I’d like to think that DV students’ willingness to help others cheat is a byproduct of empathy. After all, we face a common enemy: the pressure to succeed. We struggle together and, thus, feel the need to help each other. But what about those who aren’t willing to offer the answers we so desperately seek? You’d think that in a competitive environment, cheating would be taboo, for fear that helping a friend get an “A” meant that said friend would swoop your spot at Berkeley. But instead, a system has emerged: you help your friends cheat in one class, particularly a class that you have before brunch and they have after lunch, and vice versa. The story of almost every Dougherty student’s life.
The few rebellious academically honest, I salute you. I’ve noticed that people who aren’t willing to cheat receive more criticism than those who do. The justification? When you reject someone’s pleas of, “What was on the test?” or “Can I get last night’s homework?”, it’s seen as rude, in an “I thought you had my back, what gives?” way. I’m no sociologist, but doesn’t this contradict our indoctrinated values of integrity and ability as humans to distinguish between right and wrong?
While cheating may be the norm for many, we need to respect the few that reject the entire institution. No, the academically honest are not selfish, rude or inadequate in any way. They simply believe that hard work and sacrifice is the key to success. Furthermore, an academically honest individual sees inequity in the fact that s/he spent three hours studying for a benchmark while others had the answers handed to them on a silver platter during lunch. Success is earned, not given — defined by the method, not the result.
The academically honest are idealists, who believe that the amount of effort put forth is proportionate to the degree of success. But perhaps the most admirable attribute of the academically honest is that they are unafraid of failure. At Dougherty, people cheat more as a result of pressure and fear than laziness. However, the academically honest accept their failures, learning and growing from their mistakes. They don’t cheat because their mindsets are stronger and standards much higher than most students. We should celebrate the academically honest, not ostracize them. After all, they fully deserve their academic achievements, and that’s more than most can claim.