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Northeast Ohio colleges warn about the penalties for academic cyber cheating

Posted at 4:46 PM, Aug 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-19 18:19:22-04

BEREA, Ohio — With the new school year already starting for many local students, Northeast Ohio universities reinforced the potential penalties imposed on students who use websites to complete their homework, or in some cases, guide them through an entire course.

Dr. Guy Farish, Baldwin Wallace University Dean at the College of Arts and Sciences, told News 5 students who are caught or admit to using websites to do homework or course work are issued swift penalties.

“We take it very seriously. Academic honesty is a core value that we embrace here,” Farish said.

“Students often will receive a grade penalty on a first offense, if they’ve been cited in the past and have a second offense, the next consequence is failure for the course.”

Farish was responding to a Walll Street Journal report which reviewed 100 tutoring websites, their policies, and how schools across the country are fighting back against websites that sell homework or course work to students.

He said many of these websites come with disclaimers that indicate the services purchased should not be used for grades.

Farish explained Baldwin Wallace uses software to detect plagiarism, however the effort is a digital cat-and-mouse game.

"We live in a digital society. Students have access to an increasing number of sophisticated tools,” Farish said.

“The university utilizes software that can detect plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty," Farish said. "But it's become almost a digital arms race in some situations where websites are creating more and more sophisticated tools and our software has to adapt to detect those more sophisticated methods.”

Case Western Reserve University sent News 5 a copy of its policies on academic integrity, which includes an ethics education program for first-time violators and cases referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, with action taken by its Academic Integrity Board.

Case Western Freshman Isabella Shawe said she believes the onus of responsibility for the proper use of tutorial websites is squarely on the shoulders of students and their parents.

“Make sure to read what your signing up for,” Shawe said. “The internet is such a great resource for help, but you have to be careful to make sure you’re not doing any plagiarism, or anything that’s against the school code. I feel like if you don’t maintain that integrity, then you’re not getting the most out of your education.”