Why Should I Care if You Cheat?


Take a look at yourself, not your neighbor’s exam

By Jenny Lu | Editor in Chief

It’s kind of personal, but you know what I’m talking about. It’s the elephant in the room that everyone ignores, taking up so much space that it’s suffocating the hallways of Irvington High. I can’t hold my breath anymore, so it’s time to sit down, exhale, and let the truth flow out.

You’re a cheater, and you’re not alone.

Today, cheating is considered the norm. More than ever before, students are pressured to do well academically. Stanford University reports that up to 98% of college students surveyed report having cheated in high school. There is a high possibility, especially considering Irvington’s academic excellence, 9 out of 10 people reading this article have cheated before. And unless you’re oblivious to your surroundings, you’ve probably seen a classmate cheat. But you probably didn’t report it—because there’s nothing in it for you.

From a practical viewpoint, unless there’s a curve, there really isn’t any solid incentive—aside from a moral obligation—to report cheating. The only things that result are broken friendships, angst, rumors, accusations, and if you have a flair for drama, ruined lives.  Teachers, parents, and the administration all get involved. The costs of reporting someone, even if it affects the curve, are far greater than the practically nonexistent benefits. And this, of course, only encourages cheaters and further engrains cheating in today’s society.

Why have we become so desensitized to something that is so fundamentally wrong? In fact, Caveon Test Security reports 51% of high school students did not believe cheating was wrong. According to the New American Oxford Dictionary, to cheat is to “act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage.” I wasn’t aware that we lived in a world where “dishonest” and “unfair” suddenly became moral and right.

Does our generation lack a moral compass? Or do we choose to ignore it? I’m not sure which one’s worse, but the fact of the matter is that we’ve come to accept, and to an extent, even embrace cheating.

Maybe you’ve seen people using calculators on the no-calculator math test, or people asking what the prompt for the in-class essay was, or the people with their phones out during exams. Maybe you’ve seen those people bragging about their test scores and grades later on. Maybe you’re one of them.

This isn’t some idealistic call for everyone to suddenly become human beings with integrity, to become capable of doing the right thing even when people willingly turn a blind eye.

This is just a reminder to take a moment to think about yourself and your classmates, to remember that while it might not seem like it, cheating is wrong. And if you don’t feel guilty, regretful, or shameful, I worry for you.