Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Cheating extremes

In a lecture hall at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, business professor Bud Banis froze as one of his male students quietly tattled on one of his peers.

Banis has taught classes and given lectures at the University for the past seven years, but in all his dealings with students and their wily ways, he had never heard anything quite so insidious.

“That cute girl in the back,” said the blushing male student, “has crib notes written under her skirt.”


Banis let his gaze shift from the flustered student to the pretty girl, who paused from scribbling in her blue book to look down at a shoe-mounted mirror for an answer, and saw all of his efforts to prevent cheating stumped. Banis looked back at the male student in consternation.

“What exactly do you expect me to do about it?” Banis asked.

It has been said a college education is the only thing you pay thousands of dollars for and then spend all your time trying to keep from receiving. To hear Banis put it, college students will always cheat.

“With all the wild things that people do to avoid work, you think it would be easier to just study,” Banis said.

College students can take courses in highly advanced material and when exam time comes around, they can exhibit highly cunning cheating skills.

“You hear all sorts of stories about cheat sheets hidden on the ingredient label of a coke bottle or written on the brim of a baseball cap,” Banis said.

Twelve students who admitted to cheating on a fall 2003 Accounting final at the University of Maryland stole an answer key off the Internet and had their friends text message the answers to them via cellular phones. When the students used the answers they acquired online, however, they did not know professors from the class had placed the key online as a trap.

UM professors suspected cheating when some students who took an earlier midterm in the class scored extremely well. The decoy answer key raised questions of ethics and possible entrapment in a raging debate at UM.

As evident at UM, professors are no longer at a technological disadvantage to cheaters. Teachers at colleges across the country are now using software designed to scan term papers and essay tests for plagiarized sentences and phrases.

Banis is currently collecting college-cheating stories, which he plans to compile into a book for the textbook publishing house he founded, Science and Humanities Press. Along with the anecdotes will be constructive suggestions for professors on how to prevent cheating.

“I like to do things like allow my students one page of notes,” Banis said. “I find that in forcing them to condense the contents of a whole chapter into one page, students often learn the material.”

Students at the University of Virginia have had a strict peer-governed honor code since 1840. On Nov. 12 of that year, a masked student shot and killed a beloved law professor. Since then, students have vowed to vouch for each other’s behavior.

Over the years, this policy has allowed UVA students to take essays with them outside to the central green area of the Thomas Jefferson-designed campus, known as The Lawn.

“In my four years here, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a closely proctored exam,” said Kerry Mignerey, chairman of UVA’s Honor Code Committee.

The Committee is comprised of students who investigate and discipline alleged cases of cheating independent of the university. Disciplinary proceedings follow many courtroom rules, including a random jury of students who are obliged to attend just like in a criminal trial.

“There is absolutely no administrative oversight of the committee,” Mignerey said, adding that under the honor code, professors had even allowed students who preferred typing to handwriting to type out essay exams in computer labs or dorm rooms without fear the student would look up answers on the Internet.

“The committee investigated 49 cases of alleged cheating last year, and less than half of those were dismissed from the university,” Mignerey said. “It’s a single-sanction system, which means one instance of confirmed cheating results in expulsion.”

Mignerey said different studies of college cheating showed different rates of participation, but in most of the studies he has seen UVA cheating rates falls under 10 percent of students while the standard average for other schools is around 40 percent.

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