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Editorial: Additions to integrity code should be rejected

Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 18, 1999
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A proposal to prevent students from duplicating their own work for their classes is not a fair or viable solution to solving the cheating problem and should not be approved by the Faculty Senate.

Presented to the ASUA Senate last week by Steve Smith, chairman of the UA Student Affairs Policy Committee, the proposal would require students to disclose to their instructors material they have used in other classes. If approved by the Faculty Senate on Feb. 7, the proposal will be added to the UA's Code of Academic Integrity.

Though it is a good idea to combat cheating at the university level, it is unfair to force students to disclose private knowledge they have gathered on their own. Students have every right to build upon knowledge from their various courses and use their own resources for future courses they take. A political science major, for example, would obviously apply knowledge from his or her 201-level course to material taught in an upper-division level course. This would not be cheating; it would simply be utilizing the same information in the context of another class.

Most ASUA senators who heard Smith's presentation felt it was an unfair proposal for students. Six of the 10 senators voted down the proposal. Senator Lauren Beth Hickey, a molecular and cellular biology junior, said, "For science majors, the point of education is to be intrigued by something and use it in your thesis. I don't think a student should have to ask permission to use that (information learned in other classes)."

There is no reason why a student ought to disclose his past work to a professor. As long as he is submitting properly-cited work, a professor should not ask to see something stored inside a student's hard drive.

Also, the idea of monitoring material that students use is simply impractical. Students use material from other courses all the time, whether they actually reuse parts of old term papers or simply use insight they have gained over the course of their education. If professors want to force students to submit all of their past work, they might as well obtain copies of other professors' syllabi. Classes within one major are meant to build upon each other, and material students research and create for one class obviously ought to be fair game for them to use as resources.

As Senator Ray Quintero said, "When you are getting an education, it is continuous. It is something not to be left in that classroom."

Quintero also made another important point, that the root of the cheating problem is in the curriculum itself. A college education is designed such that students build up a bank of their own research and knowledge that they can use in their future educations and careers.

Most importantly, the proposal does not fight cheating. Truly unfair and harmful forms of cheating, such as buying papers posted on the Internet, cheating off of friends or direct plagiarism would not be addressed by the UASAPC's proposal. Clearly, the proposal does not really add anything to the UA's Code of Academic Integrity.

Voting in this proposal would give professors unfair access to student work, and it would not truly fight cheating. The Faculty Senate ought to vote down the proposal on Feb. 7.

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