Cheaters never win and winners never cheat; but this mantra does not always hold on college campuses. In a recent article published by the Chronicle of Higher Education, an anonymous man, who works as a professional academic essay writer, discussed the prevalence of cheating on college campuses. He warned administrators across the country that "you have no idea how deeply this kind of cheating penetrates the academic system, much less how to stop it."
A recent survey conducted by the Orient revealed that while there is cheating at Bowdoin, students who cheat are few and far between. Out of 358 respondents 87 percent said that they had never handed in an assignment at Bowdoin that was not wholly their own work. Seven percent of respondents admitted to handing in fraudulent work less than five times and 2 percent admitted to five times or more. The most common types of fraudulent work were problem sets and lab reports.
According to the survey, high school, not college, is a much more common time for students to feel compelled to cheat.
Eight percent of respondents admitted to handing in fraudulent assignments, prior to attending Bowdoin more than five times, 15 percent admitted to five times or less and 6 percent of respondents admitted to doing it once.
If students were cheating in high school, however, it was most likely unknown to Bowdoin.
"Based on conversations I've had with different Bowdoin admissions deans over the years, I would say that it is exceedingly rare for a student who was known to have cheated in high school to be admitted to Bowdoin," said Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster.
A sophomore female who chose to remain anonymous spoke about why she cheated in high school, but not at Bowdoin.
"When I was cheating or helping someone else I felt like I was being a good friend and it was so common that it felt normal," she said. "When I got here it felt very much like something that is looked down upon by classmates and severely punished by the College. I would rather get a bad grade and still be at Bowdoin."
The hectic nature of the College semester and the pressure of a few important assignments can be motivation enough for some to consider cheating. But according to Sean McElroy '12, cheating doesn't seem to be a prevalent problem at Bowdoin.
"I feel like the kid who goes to Bowdoin is one who feels they don't need to cheat and I don't see much organized cheating here," said McElroy. "I'm sure it happens, but I've never seen that, and at both my middle school and high school, I routinely did."
The decrease in the number of students cheating once they arrive at Bowdoin is notable. Also interesting is the nature of cheating at Bowdoin, based on the nature of cheating in high school.
Based on the annual reports presented by the Bowdoin Judicial Board, the most common type of academic indiscretion at Bowdoin over the past 12 years has been plagiarism or sharing answers on an assignment that was completed outside of class.
Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Laura Lee, who is also the head faculty member on the Judicial Board, confirmed this statement in an e-mail to the Orient.
"Based on cases that have come before the Judicial Board, plagiarism, usually in the form of cutting and pasting from internet sources, is more prevalent than cheating during an exam," Lee wrote.
Foster remarked on the nature of cheating at Bowdoin.
"Plagiarism and inadequate citation of sources may be easier for faculty members to identify than cheating that occurs during unproctored or take-home assignments and exams," he said.
The Orient survey mirrors the idea that cheating takes a different form in college. Of the 358 respondents, 49 percent admitted to cheating on a test at least once prior to Bowdoin, while only 14 percent admitting to cheating one time or more at Bowdoin.
In addition to a decreased amount of cheating at Bowdoin, students also seem to have a clear cut idea about what constitutes academic dishonesty.
"I define it in two ways", said McElroy. "The first way is to purposely subvert the established rules of what you are supposed to do on something. The second is to steal someone's work and if you are doing one of those two things, that is cheating."
The same anonymous female also spoke about the perception of cheating at Bowdoin.
"I feel it's a clear cut issue— you are either cheating or not cheating," she said. "Bowdoin makes you take pride in your intelligence. Everyone works so hard and I work so hard that I feel like cheating devalues that."
While there are several cases brought before the Judicial Board regarding academic dishonesty each year, some students think professors should be more vigilant about cheating.
"I think the issue with faculty is an important one," said McElroy. "I know that that's become a problem at other schools and that's ultimately the best way to prevent. Making sure professors are comfortable approaching students about work."