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Business majors glad, skeptical about E-tegrity

By Eric Flewelling
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 7, 2003

If the success of the E-tegrity program lies in the hands of UA business students, they may have a long way to go.

Last week was "E-tegrity Week" in the Eller College of Business and Public Administration, a series of workshops and seminars designed to educate students about integrity in the classroom.

But few students showed up.

The roughly 700 business freshmen in the college were required to attend at least one event, but only 300 people attended an event and some of them weren't freshmen.

A faculty forum and a student debate about integrity had to be rescheduled.

"We didn't get the interest that we were hoping. Only a few people R.S.V.P.'d," said Paul Melendez, the Eller College undergraduate programs director, about the faculty forum. "We are definitely going to try again, probably use some more aggressive marketing, going through the department heads. We're going to do it again in the spring."

The case competition, a debate between students, was rescheduled for Nov. 14 due to scheduling conflicts for about half of the finalists.

After arriving late to the last mandatory E-tegrity Week lecture that he could attend, Rob Rothstein, a pre-business freshman, said he had a friend put his name on the list.

"When we talk about it in BAD 103 (a basic business skills class that 500 freshmen take each semester), integrity is more than just cheating. In the business world, there are everyday decisions, like deciding who to fire or how to get around the law. Like that's integrity," Rothstein said.

The Eller College has taken numerous steps to reduce cheating as part of the E-tegrity program, including increasing the number of preceptors in exams, banning backpacks from exams, and purchasing a license from, an anti-plagiarism resource.

While many students said the program is a good idea, they questioned its effectiveness.

"It's an OK idea, to try to make the business college a little better place, make it stand out more against other business colleges, make it look credible," said Tim Compton, a business accounting senior. But Compton also said that he's seen no change in students' cheating habits since E-tegrity's inception at the beginning of the semester.

"The cheating policy in college isn't going to make you not cheat. No matter how hard it is, kids will always cheat. They'll find ways to," Rothstein said. "It makes (school) easy."

Although is supposed to catch students who have plagiarized, Jessica Gonzalez, a business economics senior, said it isn't foolproof.

"I think it changes students behavior," Gonzalez said. "But people are going to find ways to go around it."

Some students have already figured out ways to trick the Web site.

"(Students) find a way out of it, either by changing every other third word or whatever it is that they do, but there's ways around it," said Gil Lang, a pre-business freshman.

Tom Kerkaert, an accounting senior, said that for most people ethical issues were not a priority.

"People are too busy to pay too much attention to ethical things," Kerkaert said. "It's easier to put that on the backburner when you're busy."

Although some students doubted the program would be successful, others said that there is a need to combat cheating.

"One of the goals of the Eller College is to be one of the top five business schools," said Alero Akporiaye, a finance and business economics junior. "Our chances are hurt by cheating."

"Lots of students cheat, and it's a good thing if you catch them," she said.

E-tegrity is more than just a device to catch cheaters, Melendez said.

"We don't want (E-tegrity) to just be about catching people," he said. "That's part of it, but this is about educating, trying to show them the right way about doing things and the advantages of it," he said.

Melendez also said that, just like after other times following economic downturns that are highlighted by unethical business practices, businesses are turning to schools to address the issue.

But he warned it would be difficult and take time.

"We're trying to institute a strong culture that promotes integrity. Any time you try to bring about a cultural change, that doesn't happen overnight; it takes years," Melendez said. "And it may be difficult, very difficult, to quantify the benefits. When you're talking about integrity, what are you really measuring it on?"

Melendez said it was also difficult to teach students to deal with everyday ethical dilemmas that they are likely to confront, situations that could put them in conflict with fellow workers or even bosses.

"How well can school prepare you for that?" he said.

For Melendez, the concept of integrity is central to success in life. "Integrity is the underpinning of everything," he said. "You're going to get further in life being honest than dishonest."

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