To cheat, or not to cheat: It’s the question many college students may ask themselves when faced with a daunting assignment or test.
While it may seem like an easy solution, cheating can have disastrous consequences on one’s life. The number of students who are caught cheating is on the rise, Dixie State University officials say.
Former DSU student Zane Affleck was accused of cheating, arrested and sent to Purgatory Correctional Facility in September.
“[Affleck] broke into the professor’s office and stole answer keys for a test,” said classmate Laken Brooking, a sophomore biology major from St. George. “He got caught when he tried to use the key on a test in the classroom, and the teacher noticed and called police.”
Affleck was charged with theft and two counts of trespassing on school grounds. He was booked into jail Sept. 4 with a nearly $7,000 bail, though he has since been released and arrested for more unrelated charges of burglary and theft.
While most students who cheat may not be breaking into their professor’s office and stealing answer keys, students are always trying to find new ways to cheat, Testing Center Director Tamron Lee said.
The DSU Testing Center utilizes cameras and proctors to keep an eye on testing students. As part of the governing board of the Intermountain Regional Testing Association, Lee said he is constantly reviewing research and trends on new ways students are cheating.
“There are some new, sophisticated ways on how to cheat that students try to take advantage of with technology,” Lee said. “Most of those we catch, but there are some I’m sure students get away with.”
Lee said when students use technology to cheat, IT gets involved in collecting evidence, which is harder for students to dispute than traditional ways of cheating, like writing on one’s arms or bringing in a slip of paper.
At least two to three students are caught cheating each week in the Testing Center, which Lee said is a large increase from last year, where only 44 students were caught cheating during the entire school year.
“I don’t really feel like cheating in general is getting more prevalent; I like to think the increase in cheating incidents that we’ve discovered is because our ability to catch them is getting better,” Lee said. “But that’s all speculation.”
Dustin McMullin, a sophomore social sciences major from Washington, said he doesn’t know why students still attempt to cheat when so much could go wrong if they are caught.
“I think students (who cheat) do it because they have trouble prioritizing,” McMullin said. “They may get behind in a class, and they may think cheating is the only option.”
Although Affleck declined to make a statement about his charges or the accusations of him cheating because the case hasn’t gone to trial yet, he said is innocent.
“I am a little sad about [the situation] still,” Affleck said
It isn’t fair for teachers, future employers and classmates who are working hard for their grades when people cheat, Brooking said.
“It’s just not worth it,” Brooking said. “It’s way more stressful to cheat — making sure you’re always looking over your shoulder — than it is to actually do the work. You’re only cheating yourself.”