Stop appeasing cheaters

Being a silent bystander may adhere to the elementary school moral code prohibiting tattletales, but it is morally unacceptable even if it doesn’t violate the letter of the Honor Code.

President Thomas C. Hudnut, when speaking about the 2001 collapse of Enron at the leadership summit last week, condemned the belief that “ethical behavior requires nothing more than avoiding the explicitly illegal.”  Yet somehow this same belief has pervaded the Harvard-Westlake community as countless upper school students from all three grades chose what was socially acceptable over what was ethically right. 

To prevent cheating in the future, the school must examine how our recent cheating scandal could have occurred. The students who actively stole the tests are mainly to blame, and those students have been permanently expelled.

There are students in our midst who saw the stolen midterm before taking the exam, and most of these students have been punished with suspensions. But still some students who were integral in allowing this scandal to take place remain unpunished. These students knew that cheating was going on and that the World and Europe II and Spanish midterms were compromised, but took no action.

To prevent cheating scandals like the recent one from happening again, all students must forget the preschool mantra to avoid being a tattletale at all costs. We must regulate ourselves. Cheating is wrong, but so is watching cheating happen and doing nothing to stop it.

Attending this school is a privilege because every student here benefits from the school’s prestigious reputation. Allowing others to cheat tarnishes the legitimacy of our own hard-won accomplishments and permanently damages the school’s reputation, which hurts not only the school as a whole, but each of us as individuals.

If we had regulated ourselves, the cheating conspiracy never could have escalated this much. The administration was not aware of the cheating until after the midterm had come and gone. We must never let this happen again. By discouraging cheating in our midst, we will be taking the moral path — and we will prevent news helicopters from once again circling over our campus.

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