70°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Economic Crisis Leads Students To Cheat

Pressure mounting, deadlines looming, expectations breathing down your neck… these are the general reasons that spew from the mouths of today’s young scholars when asked about the motivation to cheat on an assignment. Growing up in a capitalist economy in the United States, students may not realize that we are driven by the alluring power of money. Superstar athletes wielding multi-million dollar contracts through free agency, and the down-up-and down again nature of Wall Street stocks and bonds are two examples of this nation’s financial state of mind; which is to get the biggest piece of the pie now before it all disappears. In a 1996 Newsweek article entitled, “Making the Grade,” professor Kurt Wiesenfeld artfully summarized the dwindling significance of today’s college degree. “Though intrinsically worthless, grades, if properly manipulated, can be traded for what has value: a degree, which means a job, which means money. The one thing college actually offers-a chance to learn-is considered irrelevant, even less than worthless, because of the long hours and hard work required.” Exemplifying the capitalist mindset, Wiesenfeld suggests that a college degree is only a ticket to be punched for admittance to the “Wonderful Ride of Profit.” A hunger for personal enlightenment, and a joy in attaining new perspectives on the world around us seems to be something we students have lost in today’s million-dollar-a-minute society.

Along with the societal pressures that press us to cheat, it is also human nature to search for the easiest means to an end. Technological advances such as the Internet have helped to connect the world and make communication and the sharing of information much easier. On college campuses today it is commonplace to find a computer and Internet connection in every student’s dorm room. With access to infinite documents and files of information available online, a student can be easily tempted to abuse technology by plagiarizing another’s work. In the olden days, you had to copy from the book. Now with the click of a mouse, you can copy and paste. Today numerous web sites offer term papers online, available in almost any subject that is taught. This seemingly short route to success can be very tempting to a college student who may at times be overwhelmed by multiple writing assignments, accompanied by exams.

Many will argue that students here at Massachusetts who approach their class work with an entrepreneurial mindset may ultimately have the bigger picture in mind for themselves, which is to use their college education as a stepping-stone into a profitable future. However, the pressure that pushes students to use the latest quick-fix scheme on the Internet will ultimately come back to haunt employers down the road. A diploma that is acquired dishonestly breeds a lifelong cycle of misrepresentation. It diminishes the value of an honestly earned degree. It deceives future employers who measure a prospective employee’s worth by the knowledge and abilities that his or her grades and degree imply. It further deceives an unsuspecting public that relies on the standards that are represented by a collegiate diploma. Deterioration of the economic structure will be the ultimate downfall of our society if a college degree is no longer trusted and respected by an employer.

Bob Moser