Cheaters beware

Ryan Knight

Council: XF grade on record may deter students from cheating

With the strain of a semester wearing on students like a ton of bricks, the thought of cheating or turning someone else’s work in as his or her own may play differently in the back of students’ minds if a new grade is implemented into the University Catalog.

The Student Advisory Council has proposed a new grade that can be given to students who have been caught either cheating or plagiarizing.

The proposed XF grade is being pursued because of the increase of dishonest work that has risen with the advancement of technology, according to the council.

Jason Waller, who is studying to get his Ph.D. in philosophy at Purdue University and former president of the council, said the council was asked to look into new ways to deal with academic dishonesty.

Waller said dishonesty has always been a problem, but the Internet has made it easier for students to cheat and the university must find a way to control this problem.

“Every university in the country has to come to grips with this problem,” Waller said. “The question now is which schools are going to step up, take the lead and boldly address it.”

At this time, the university does not have a grade for course failure that specifies a student that has been caught cheating or plagiarizing.

E. Timothy Moore, associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, said the XF grade will give professors a means to control class and uphold the integrity of the university.

Moore said the grade will be used as a symbolic warning and not just a punishment for any student who is caught cheating or plagiarizing.

“The XF was proposed because students were tired of seeing other students cheat and plagiarize,” Moore said.

The process of assigning the new grade will not be as simple as just giving a student an Incomplete or F on an assignment.

Once a professor believes a student has cheated or plagiarized, he or she must investigate the situation, present it to their department head, and meet with the student. If the professor determines the student has performed a wrongful manner in academic standards, the student can be given the XF grade for the course.

Any student that receives an XF grade will not be able to simply drop the course and therefore drop the grade. The grade will stay on his or her permanent record and will not be removed.

Danielle Tomcho, senior philosophy major and president of the Student Advisory Council, said the grade was not proposed to brand students as cheaters, but to raise awareness of cheating and plagiarizing.

Tomcho said some students may not understand if they are doing some things wrong, such as citing material wrong or not giving credit to the right person, and she feels that the university must do a better job making clear what the penalties are if students are caught cheating.

“The university needs to teach the importance of being honest,” Tomcho said. “The XF grade will help wake students up and help raise their awareness of cheating and plagiarizing in the university.”

Tomcho feels that the new grade will be more of an educational tool for the university, and feels if more information about cheating and plagiarizing was put onto syllabi that maybe some students would be deterred from cheating.

Craig St. Jean, sophomore computer science major and XF committee member, said the new grade will separate students that do what they are supposed to and those who try to take the easy way out.

St. Jean said the new grade will act as a deterrent to cheating and will also help educate students and professors on how big a problem this is with the university.

“It distinguishes those who honestly could not pass a class,” St. Jean said. “It will give students who do not cheat the comfort of knowing they will be rewarded with the grade he or she deserves.”

St. Jean designed a poll that will be put on the university server within the next couple weeks. This survey will allow students to help determine how serious the problem of cheating and plagiarism is within the university.

The procedure of implementing the new grade is before the Faculty Senate. At this point, they want the SAC to provide more information and statistics that show how effective this grade will be, according to the SAC.

Tomcho wants students to know this grade can be challenged through the Academic Grievance Committee if a student feels that they have been wrongly accused of cheating or plagiarizing.

Several other universities have added an XF grade to their catalog and the SAC is in the process of reviewing how effective the grade is on the other campuses of those universities.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Ryan Knight at [email protected].


Universities that have an XF grade

  • University of Maryland, College Park
  • University of Kentucky
  • Kansas State University
  • Missouri State University
  • Louisiana State University

Sources: University Web sites