Cheating, plagiarism and dishonesty on campus will be the focus of a town hall meeting, which will seek to clarify what constitutes as academic dishonesty.

The meeting, which will take place tomorrow in 3222 Angell Hall from 4 to 5 p.m., is being held in response to growing concern over incidents of academic dishonesty both on campus and at universities across the country.

“Almost any research you might do on this topic makes references to the fact that academic incidents are rising in this country. One could probably assume, at the very least, that the opportunity to be dishonest is far greater today than in the past,” said Louis Rice, coordinator of the College Academic Judiciary Committee.

Student observations of cheating on campus support Rice’s view that cheating is prevalent at the University.

“I think a lot of times it happens in social studies and language classes where you have more of an opportunity to cheat because the class is interactive,” an LSA freshman said who wished to remain anonymous. “I think everyone (has) cheated once in their life, intentionally or unintentionally. As human beings, it is innate for us to cheat.”

University faculty are currently more concerned with clarifying the issue and learning more about its effects on campus before taking any direct measures against the acts. Tomorrow’s meeting will deal more with education than with establishing guidelines for punishment, organizers said.

“Even if we talk of a sense of community integrity, the more important issue is personal integrity,” Rice said. “And while we’ve been talking about initiating a dialogue this year on academic integrity, we might not come up with solutions as much as we will raise awareness of the issue.”

The accessibility of information through the Internet and other forms of mass media has complicated the problem, and many University faculty members said they believe that academic dishonesty needs to be redefined in the context of new avenues of information.

“Much has changed in regard to the Internet. In English, at least, that certainly accounts for a huge amount of what we see in regards to plagiarism,” English Prof. John Whittier-Ferguson said.

Increasing occurrences of plagiarism and cheating have incited other universities, such as Duke University and the University of Virginia, to implement strict honor codes as a preventive measure for dishonest behavior.

This may be one possible way for the University of Michigan to address incidences of academic dishonesty before freshmen ever enter the classroom.

“Maybe the best we can hope for is that the presence of an honor code will clarify what our expectations as a college are with respect to academic integrity. You’re going to have to look pretty far and wide to find that definition here right now,” Rice said.

But some students are hesitant to believe that this would be an effective measure for eliminating inappropriate behavior.

“I don’t think (honor codes) would have much of an effect because I know a lot of professors who already do that when they give tests. I think a lot of students just wouldn’t follow it,” LSA senior Christina Chau said.

In spite of this skepticism, honor codes remain a possibility for the future. LSA Student Government has created an Honor Code Implementation Task Force to push for a standard of integrity.

“I believe that an honor code would enforce the idea that honesty is essential to our university,” task force chair Jesse Knight said.

The University has also created a website focusing on academic integrity to stimulate conversation between students and faculty in hopes of finding a solution.

“In the larger sense, the whole premise of the university is that people are working in a large group with a common purpose; and when you violate the trust within that group, you can destroy the respect for that institution,” Whittier-Ferguson added.

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