Academic dishonesty increases at FGCU
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 23:10
In the wake of one of the largest college cheating scandals, academic dishonesty is also on the rise at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Earlier this year, 125 Harvard students, including many scholarship athletes, were implicated in a cheating scandal on a take home test.
Michael Rollo, Vice President of Student Affairs at FGCU, said no school is exempt from academic dishonesty.
“Even military academies have had cheating scandals, even Harvard,” Rollo said. “They don’t cheat because they’re not doing well, they cheat to have an advantage, or they didn’t spend enough time studying for that exam.”
Eagle News recently found the number of FGCU students caught cheating has nearly tripled in the last five years. A public records request showed from 2007 to 2012 the number of students who had violated the University’s academic dishonesty policy had jumped from 56 to 155.
“It isn’t dramatically different over time,” said Rollo. “A difference we’ve seen is with the Internet and plagiarism… It seems to be something students easily fall into using copy and paste on a word processor. It’s become easier to cheat. With larger classes sometimes it causes a problem.”
Cindy Lyons, Assistant Dean of Students for Student Conduct, said it was important to point out that FGCU’s enrollment has also increased from 9,388 to 12,655 in the past five years.
But while enrollment is up 35 percent in this time frame, cases of academic dishonesty has grown 177 percent.
As with most universities, FGCU’s sanctions against academic dishonesty are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and are common practice, Rollo said.
Lyons said the penalty for a first-time offense can range from a zero for the assignment to a referral to the Writing Center and rewriting the assignment for partial credit. The penalty for a second offense can result in a failing grade for the course, referral to the Academic Integrity Committee or suspension or expulsion if egregious.
While FGCU does not keep official track of courses in which the policy is violated most, Lyons said a humanities class called Understanding Visual and Performing Arts is a course that has referred a large amount of alleged academic dishonesty.
“This is an issue that’s not new to college campuses,” said Rollo. “People have always cheated. It cheapens their degree. We have a code of conduct; we address it whenever we see it. Our faculty is very interested in this. We deal with it pretty regularly.”
Rollo also said cheating on college campuses is more damaging than people realize.
“If you go to work for somebody and you don’t know your stuff, you cheated your way through school, and now you’re not a very good employee. What is that company going to do the next time an FGCU employee comes along? People could think that’s normal. So why would they hire any more FGCU employees?”
Rollo was adamant about how important it is to regulate cheating for faculty and students alike.
“Some people have trouble [turning in cheaters], but the connection is real. I, for one, would not want to drive across a bridge by an engineer who cheated their way through engineering school,” Rollo said. “We all have a stake in this. The real irony, of course, is the people who cheat are college students. They have the ability to do the work. They’re just choosing not to do it.”