Has academic dishonesty been taken too far?

Sakina Ghatalah , Opinion Editor

Have you noticed the enlarged posters hanging around classrooms, their black font imitating a letter for expulsion, threatening students against Academic Dishonesty? Well, I have. The environment at Fremd, as possibly every student knows, is one of fierce competition, many students left feeling incompetent when they’re not able to keep up with the push to take every AP class in sight.

Despite the unattainable expectations looming above us, students began to work the system in their favor, a practice labeled Academic Dishonesty. The posters around school are quite the eyesore, yet become a real issue as the last bullet point characterizes cheating as “acquiring and/or distributing tests, answers to tests, answer keys, class projects, research papers, reports, or school-owned materials through verbal, written, graphic, electronic, or other means.” The distribution of test answers is obviously restricted; however, the basic actions students take to help one another or further their understanding is something that the school is now against.

The phrase “school-owned materials” is also extremely vague, as it encompasses all notes and homework done by a student on an iPad. Not only is this expectation inapplicable to the outside world, it also makes students feel as though they’re constantly being watched, creating an overall distrusting environment at an already über competitive school. Cheating is something that would not fly anywhere, yet, the restrictions being enforced are not only extensive, they also create more roadblocks in education.
All classes now depend heavily on the use of iPads, and certain consequences result, causing Fremd to become increasingly paranoid about students not sharing work. My anatomy class engages students in several projects and dissections that lab partners and groups have to do together. After class, there is no possible way to find the emails of peers as members of courses on schoology have been made classified. As Fremd continues to progress technologically, the way students learn and take notes is also malleable. If the posters are to threaten against sharing homework, there is no assurance that students will not just use their phones, making these efforts futile.

We do understand that these actions have the intention of making students prepared for college and the discipline it brings, yet labeling the basic act of sharing notes as cheating is quite extensive, especially considering AP classes are the cornerstone of a Fremd education.

Instead of highlighting the repercussions of cheating, learning needs to be a focal point at school rather than doing what needs to be done to ace a test and keep your GPA. By focusing on comprehension of a subject rather than cheating, the need to cheat would be eliminated if students don’t feel as though they need to. By having review days before tests and emphasizing that help is available if needed, students would feel as though they have better options rather than to cheat. On the other hand, administration of tests could also be lowered, leading to dependence on small quizzes to track a students progress and gaining insight to what needs to be reiterated.

Currently, students stack up their schedule with classes they’ve been told will ensure success in their lives, all while neglecting the harm caused to their mental health and social interactions. With most classes assigning a minimum of an hour a night, students taking six AP classes spend their life after school immersed in a never ending web of school work, excluding the extracurricular activities we are strongly encouraged to take. And of course, a sport is the cherry on top to the anxiety filled life of the average Fremd student.

The exponentially rigorous standards created by ideas like those on the guidelines about academic dishonesty breed an environment of competition at Fremd, perpetually leaving students gasping for breath at the enormity of Fremd’s expectations. With that kind of school life being standard, students can feel as though that is the only way they will succeed, however through the encouragement of note sharing and more communication between students and teachers, academic dishonesty can be a problem of the past.