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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Eagle

Staff editorial: Integrity part of education

It's midterm season again and this year, plagiarism, dishonesty and collaboration are back. Last year, during this season and final season, 72 students violated the University's Academic Integrity Code (AIC). Most students received an F; other students were suspended or dismissed.

On Oct. 9 of this year, Provost Cornelius Kerwin sent out a memorandum about the Code that reminded the AU community that the University maintains high ethical standards and that all students should be familiar with the Code. He wrote, "The Academic Integrity Code for American University describes standards for academic conduct, rights and responsibilities as members of an academic community, and procedures for handling allegations of academic dishonesty."

AU defines academic dishonesty as plagiarism, inappropriate collaboration and missing citations. For more information, punch up www.american.edu/academics/integrity.

The Eagle strongly agrees with Provost Kerwin and the AIG. While there ought to be different punishments for different crimes, when a student violates the AIG, he or she breaches a fundamental rule of an academic institution: Honesty. In our profession, if a reporter makes up sources or copies news from other papers, he or she should immediately be dismissed for abusing the trust of the reader. A student who violates the AIG is no different.

Students who didn't care and knowingly broke the code are dishonest and diminish the quality of work done at AU. By the time a 17 or 18 year old reaches college, he or she should know that higher standards are required and plagiarism is looked down upon even more than it was in high school. Honesty in writing a paper is equivalent to honesty during a test or honesty in scholarship. If it's not there, then the author is discredited and the work is tainted.

Undoubtedly, some students were unaware that they broke the integrity code when they didn't cite Internet sources or ideas. For those students, it may be determined on a case-to-case basis that they deserve a more lenient punishment than a deliberate offender. Nonetheless, the code was broken and punishment is in order. Just as "I didn't know" is no excuse when driving over the speed limit, "I didn't know" doesn't work at the college level.

When a student enters a university, he or she takes on a number of responsibilities. Whether he or she is ready for these responsibilities is a decision that should be made well before the first class, rather than after the first violation.


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