What is Left When Honor is Lost

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Photo: Agape Fellowship

Photo: Agape Fellowship

Photo: Agape Fellowship

Angela Ciarochi, Features Editor

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From hours and hours of assigned homework to all nighters pulled studying for a test, students at Maggie Walker, in addition to high schools all around the US, have a large amount of pressure to complete overwhelming numbers of assignments and to obtain stellar grades. Unfortunately, this pressure leads students to violate their personal codes of ethics and cheat to succeed. On January 19th, Megan Rapchick, Assistant Director for Strategic Partnerships and Outreach in VCU’s Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity, was invited to Maggie Walker to give a speech on some dishonorable situations she has witnessed in the field. Her statistics and situational stories were shocking yet are very accurate: Ninety-five percent of students have admitted to some form of cheating, while one third of students admit to using the Internet to plagiarize on a writing assignment. In addition to providing numbers on cheating around the country, Rapchick delivered examples of honor violations from a little closer to home. This extended from something as simple as creating a cheat sheet for an exam to organizing an entire cheating ring, all with consequences based on the level of extremity of the initial action.

Emily Turner (‘19), a junior representative of the honor council, does not find the statistics too far fetched. She enjoyed seeing many of the students’ reactions to these events and punishments, and believes that most high schoolers do not think situations like these could ever happen to them. She believes that the consequences of the described situations were not extreme enough for a university setting because the “stakes are higher” when you are independent in your own education. Turner recognizes the importance of this speech because informing students of the punishments of dishonorable actions will ultimately prepare them for college and beyond. She finds the topics in this speech to be very relevant at Maggie Walker, and that stress is most definitely a major factor in their decisions to cheat. Although Viggy Bankuru (‘21), freshman candidate for the Honor Council, is fairly new to the school, she has already experienced stress and has noticed how it can impact students’ decision making when attempting to complete homework tasks. She finds that the amount of plagiarizing is not shocking, and claims that the first thing students do when handed an assignment is “look the answers up online”. What she found most astonishing were the described situations where the offenders’ friends reported the cheating scandals. Overall, Bankuru enjoyed the way that Rapchick delivered the speech, providing valuable information but also allowing the message to be relatable and interesting for teenagers. Another student, Cole Mier (‘19), enjoyed listening to Raphcick’s speeches as they were relevant and directly correlated with MLWGS’ critical ideology of honor within the community. He agrees with Turner and Bankuru, noting that cheating has heavy implications in the real world.

A central topic that all students agreed on was how stress and pressure from parents, peers and teachers play an important role in causing kids to cheat. When juggling neverending assignments, students resort to cheating, especially when other students make it appear acceptable. They acknowledge that Maggie Walker makes an effort to prevent cheating in school, but that it is always the student’s responsibility to preserve their ethics, even outside the classroom. Megan Rapchick fortunately contributed the idea that integrity follows you wherever you go, an essential message that the entire student body needed to hear.

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