UMass students discuss academic dishonesty

By Patrick Hoff


Students at the University of Massachusetts understand that some of their peers cheat.

For some, it’s not a big deal.

Senior Heather Hodges, who was sitting in the Student Union Sunday night working on her laptop, said students cheating doesn’t really affect her.

“I feel like we’re in college, so you don’t really have to cheat,” she said.

Hodges said she understands people do it, but there’s no immediate impact on her academics – unless grades are based on a curve.

Other students are finding cheating to be a very big deal on campus.

Senior Megan Tracey said she never cheated before.

“I don’t really think people need to do it if they study and pay attention to the material,” she said.

UMass students aren’t alone in cheating, though. Harvard had a recent scandal in which several students got caught using their notes on a test. As a result, the students opted to take a leave absence.

Some of those Harvard students face a year-long suspension from the prestigious school.

“Each year has its own unique pressures,” said Allison Butler, professor of communications at UMass. “I’m opposed to cheating, but I understand the fear of not being perfect.”

Butler said students put too much effort into cheating, with all the planning and attempts to choose different ways to not get caught.

“If you put in that amount of effort into studying, you would get an A,” Butler said.

Tracey, who was reading in the Campus Center Sunday night, said there are different levels of cheating – from quizzes and tests to stealing someone’s homework worksheet – but that it’s all the same.

“I think cheating is cheating,” Tracey said.

Butler defined cheating as “submitting work that’s not your own without attribution.

She also said one of the worst moments for her when teaching is when she catches a student cheating in her class.

“In addition to the hurt that’s involved, it’s also a breach of trust,” she said. “It also shows me that the student doesn’t trust themselves.”

Butler did, however, admit to cheating in math class when trying to learn her multiples.

“I still have trouble on the sevens,” she exclaimed.

Malea Ritz contributed to this report.

Patrick Hoff can be reached at [email protected]. Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected]