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Randomness from a 2005 graduate of The Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University

 

Friday, September 26, 2003

First of all, everything is okay. I was slightly paranoid, but not entirely.

So...on to EXAM SOFTWARE.

To begin, a little self disclosure. I have a PC, so my concerns about Macintosh compatibility are not personal. Also, I use my computer to take notes in all my classes, but I do not use my computer for exams. Therefore, my concerns about the potential effects of downloading the software are not personal. I also freely admit that this means I am not impacted by the professors who refuse to allow students to use computers without the software. Actually, in that area I have my own theories about what the impact may be, but no way to back them up. This issue only affects me because I am a student at Ohio State and my integrity is on the line as part of the larger group.

I have never heard a single rumor of actual cheating. I have heard discussions where people say, "Oh, I bet there are people who find a way to cheat." That's it. I have never heard anyone contemplate doing anything that was even on the periphery of what the professor prohibited. There are two major factors at play here. (1) People actually have self respect and integrity and just don't cheat; and (2) People are too afraid of the consequences of being caught to risk cheating. Whatever the motivation, I do not think that cheating is rampant, and I don't even really buy that rumors of cheating are rampant.

Personally, I think that if there are people out there (and I'm sure there are a few, this is the real world) who are really determined to cheat, they will find a way. Maybe exam software keeps them from cheating in one particular manner. That doesn't stop cheating. This is how I feel about terrorism too, by the way. The school can add one protection after another, but people who are lacking in character and are resolved to cheat the system, will always find a way to do so. I'm sure some people would say I'm suggesting we make it easy for them. But that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that we need to do a little balancing and decide if it is worth it to render the honor code meaningless on the basis that it might prevent some cheating. Apparently many people's answer to that question is yes.

Honor, trust, and integrity are things that are earned and lost through actions. All I have seen indicates that the students at Ohio State have earned these things, and have done nothing to draw them into question. If there had been a dozen honor code accusations and trials last year and we had gotten all sorts of bad publicity, I might understand this situation. It would be like a teenager who comes home at 3am smelling of alcohol. But we are the straight A student who's on Key Club who ought to be allowed to go to a movie with a friend.

If the faculty determines that we need exam software, I think we should all refuse to sign the honor pledge. Instituting software would be a direct statement from the faculty that they believe the school should be responsible for monitoring our actions; that we should not monitor ourselves and our peers. If that's what they want, then let them do it. Why should I speak up if I see something out of line and risk losing friends when apparently the school is in a better position to police us?

This is my call to action: Do not sign the honor pledge again if they make us use exam software. |
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