NIU faculty discourage dishonesty, plagiarism

By Maria Tortorello

Cheaters are no strangers to the university community. Every university has its own methods of discovering and dealing with the dishonest.

About five years ago, NIU had a problem with students who were caught cheating. Since then, faculty and staff have made it more difficult for a student to cheat, said Larry Bolles, director of the Judicial Office.

Some of the more common techniques cheating students often use are students who are found turning in another student’s paper, hiring “ringers” (someone else to take a course) or selling copies of an exam.

Among the many cases of plagiarism and cheating, the question of why students cheat has been raised several times.

In an article written in the Chicago Tribune Oct. 30, 1993, it is suggested students cheat because “earning a grade has become more important than learning the material.”

“That’s a sad commentary because it puts teachers into an adversarial role,” said Robert Albritton, political science professor. “Evaluating a student makes the process adversary. What I try to do is convey knowledge that is important to have.”

“Faculty tightened up and caught several people,” Bolles said. “After the crackdown, students got the message. We’ve come a long way from where we used to be.”

One way faculty and staff has discouraged cheating is by requiring another form of identification when a student goes to get an ID card.

Several professors require alternate seating during exams and roam the room with a teaching assistant to make sure no student is using another source to get his or her answers. Some instructors also have different forms in which the same questions are asked in different orders.

Then, there are those professors who use basic common sense.

“It is obvious when someone has copied something word for word,” Albritton said. “A lot of times, it is written in a way that doesn’t seem normal.”

Most situations involving cheating or plagiarism are settled between the faculty and the student. However, there are some cases that are taken to the Judicial Office.

“If a student is suspected of cheating, the faculty member confronts the student and gives the student an opportunity to explain,” Bolles sid. “If the student can’t convince the professor that he didn’t cheat, the student and the faculty member will meet with the chair. If it can’t be resolved after that, it is sent to the Judicial Office.”

Usually, if the student is found guilty of cheating, he or she is suspended or expelled.

Even though NIU has had its fair share of cheaters in the past, faculty and staff said cheating at NIU is not as severe as at other universities.

“We get less than 50 cases each year, which is not many cases,” Bolles said. “I’m sure there is more cheating than I know about, but it’s not as severe as on other campuses.”

“There aren’t too many cheaters,” Albritton said. “Most work is quality work.”

“I’m sure there is more cheating than I know about, but it’s not as severe as on other campuses.”