Integrity key to academic advancement

By on October 24, 2002

If you ever had to go to the hospital to get operated on, would you be thinking about whether the doctor performing the operation cheated his or her way through medical school?
Or as you look up at the structure of the ceiling over your head, do you wonder about whether the engineers cheated their way through engineering school?
These questions, posed by Elizabeth Kiss during her lecture Sept. 19, encouraged those attending to think about the importance of academic integrity.
Is it really that important for students to be impeccably honest with every assignment they hand in or test they complete?
The new Academic Integrity policy at Quinnipiac states that students are expected to uphold five standards of integrity: honesty, trust, responsibility, fairness and respect. The violation of any one of these standards can result in a variety of punishments, ranging from a failing grade for the assignment completed fraudulently to permanent expulsion from the university.
Violations are brought to a case review committee and if enough evidence of a violation is found, the parties involved can either come to a resolution on their own, or send the case to a hearing board.
The hearing board then determines the appropriate punishment for the individual(s). Instances that would require these proceedings to take place can be a variety of occurrences, from cheating on a test to plagiarism.
This detailed policy and these formal procedures make it very clear of the importance Quinnipiac places on integrity. But, why is honesty such a big issue?
Will it really make a difference if a student cheats on a biology test and does not thoroughly understand the workings of the mitochondrion in cellular metabolism, or hands in a paper on Socrates’ life in which all sources are not documented properly? The answer to this question is yes, it will make a difference.
Grades are not the only thing at stake while cheating. The virtues that make us who we are, are developed through practice and habit. Elizabeth Kiss best expressed this concept with the statement, ‘The decisions we make today shape our tomorrow.’
If a person goes through life cheating, he or she is a cheater. This virtue of dishonesty is embedded in who they are and carried with them throughout the rest of their lives.
Our society is based on following a set of rules. We have laws that must be obeyed, and failure to do so results in justifiable punishment for the act of defiance. If an individual cannot abide by rules on a small scale within the college community, what will become of them in the wide realms of society?
The purpose of attending an institute of higher learning is not simply to memorize the material presented and regenerate it for a test or in an essay. An education consists of learning tools that enable an individual to think critically and constructively.
After Kiss’ lecture, a graduate student commented that her current employer explained to her that the sole purpose of attending college was to receive the piece of paper that says she has her degree and the knowledge she acquired will never be used again in her life.
Kiss asked her if she believed this to be true and the student alleged she did. Students are not aware of what they are learning in college and therefore do not believe it to be important. They are unconscious of the fact that what they are actually learning are the skills of life.
The Quinnipiac mission statement proclaims, “An education at Quinnipiac embodies a commitment to three important values: excellence in education, a sensitivity to students, and a spirit of community.” Without integrity, these values cannot be instilled in students.
So, is it really that important for students to be impeccably honest with every assignment they hand in or test they complete?
The answer to this question is clearly yes. Integrity molds a person’s character and impacts the type of life they lead. Honesty, trust, responsibility, fairness and respect are virtues that every worthy individual possesses.
Integrity at Quinnipiac stresses these virtues and instills them in each and every student to ensure that graduates “…possess an educational foundation for continued growth and development in a changing world of diverse cultures and people.” (Quinnipiac Mission Statement)

This is the winning submission from the Stiernotte lecture essay contest- a response to the Sept. 19 Steirnotte lecture by Elizabeth Kiss on the subject of academic integrity.


About Christine Dixon- Staff Writer