At UT, there are a number of different backgrounds represented on campus. Some students are more academically or socioeconomically advantaged than others before coming to college, but the beauty of higher education is that the opportunity to obtain a degree is supposed to be the great equalizer. When students come to college they are told they are just a number, and although a bit disconcerting, within this fact there is the comfort that all students will be treated equally. But whereas students should expect fair treatment from their instructors, the same cannot be said about other students. There are those who engage in egregious acts of academic dishonesty, but there are other ways students can gain an academic advantage that might not be so obvious.
This week is IntegrityUT Week on campus, promoting academic honesty and especially the UT Honor Code. Being an honest person can be boring; honesty is a virtue that is praised in society but has no material utility. Academic integrity, however, creates an equal playing field for all students and prepares us to thrive in both professional and civic capacities. But students should be aware that with an infinite amount of resources — thanks to the Internet — at our disposal, the definition of cheating is not so black and white.
While University conduct guidelines ultimately serve to the benefit of both students and faculty, broad phrasing allows for any student interaction, as far as courses are concerned, that is not officially authorized by the professor to be labeled cheating. And when a professor suspects cheating, the faculty member is not required to inform the student. Seemingly harmless acts, such as creating a Facebook group for the class or having a friend look over a paper, could be classified as academic dishonesty. Therefore, students should always consult the course syllabus or professor before engaging in potentially sanctionable actions.
All this week, members of the UT Senate of College Councils as well as the Student Conduct Advisory Committee will be tabling on the West Mall to discuss academic integrity with students. Students should stop by if they have any questions about what could possibly be considered academic dishonesty!
Davis is an associate editor.