I’m a freshman here at Fairfield University taking EN11. My roommate is also in my English class and on all of the assignments we’ve had so far she has asked her mother to write them for her. Important side note: her mother is an English professor at another University, so these papers are written really well. So basically my roommate is cheating, big time. I am really torn right now because I know what my roommate is doing is wrong but it’s not directly hurting my academic career and also I don’t want to have tension in our room. Is it my place to step in and confront her? Or do I go to a higher authority and let them take care of this problem?


Dear Whistleblower,

You have an interesting dilemma and one that unfortunately is not uncommon in universities in the United States.  In the Harvard Crimson, several students were interviewed on the subject.  Replies from actual Harvard students included comments such as, “I knew that I was cheating when I did it, I guess, but to me it seemed all right as a one-time thing, since this was just a Core class” to “I sometimes think I should feel bad, but honestly the way they work us here, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, I think you pick and choose the rules that should apply to you in some cases, and in this case, I just think we can’t be expected to learn all this stuff.”  One of these students was caught and had to take a years leave of absence from school.  The other one graduated without being caught.

It appears to me though that the issue goes beyond actually cheating on an assignment or a test.  It goes to a person’s ethics and why they are actually in school.  Cheating on their schoolwork is actually cheating themselves from the knowledge they would gain by doing the work themselves.  Isn’t that really why we are here?  College is about growing and gaining knowledge in a variety of ways.  It is also a time for self-discovery and personal growth.  Getting good grades is important, but it should be more important to get the best grade you work for.

The fact that your roommate has her mother do all her assignments puts you in a tough position.  She knows that you know and it forces you to be a part of the “secret.”  I would suggest that you talk to your roommate about the situation and help her to see that by having her mother do her work she is actually missing the opportunity to see how well she could do on the assignment and to learn to be a better writer herself.  By not learning these skills herself she will not know how to apply them in future assignments or when there is an in-class assignment.  It would also be interesting to ask her how she thinks her mother would feel if HER students did not do THEIR own work.  It is difficult to believe that another professor would approve of such activity.

You may also tell your roommate that she has put you into a bad position and that you are asking her to start doing her own work.  Explain to her that she is violating the academic code of conduct and is putting herself at risk for disciplinary actions if she was exposed.  Let her know that you would like to move forward but you need her to start clean and take on the journey of college on her own merit. You’re a good friend for looking out for her and I’m sure she will respect and appreciate your concern and advice.

Disclaimer: This column is for entertainment only. The author is a student, not a licensed therapist, and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice. The views expressed are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by The Mirror or its staff.

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