A student logs into their GroupMe account on their laptop. GroupMe is a platform students can use to communicate with one another about their classes. 

East Carolina University’s Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) has seen a rise in academic integrity violations and professors seem to be on high alert for students using group chats as a means of cheating.

I have no doubt that students are using group chats to cheat, as I’ve been in group chats where students openly violate academic integrity standards and it would be pretty easy for anybody in the chat to point it out to the OSRR or a professor. However, I can’t say I fault the cheating students or that I would ever be willing to turn them in.

The rise in violations are the sad result of a COVID-19 afflicted school year, and I believe professors need to slow it down a little bit. Yes, we have all been dealing with the same pandemic and by now we should probably have a few more things figured out, but lockdown browsers and online proctored exams are not the answer in my eyes.

When students take an exam with a lockdown browser or have a proctor watch them online, from my personal experience, it makes them nervous and doesn’t help those who struggle with test-taking anxiety. The process students have to go through when using an online proctor can feel like an invasion of privacy, and it makes me feel guilty when I’m doing nothing wrong.

I’m not saying we, as students, should be allowed to cheat, but a little bit of extra help sure would be nice considering what we have experienced in the spring and fall 2020 semesters sudden transitions to online instruction; one semester, of which, that was split into two eight-week blocks, something students were unfamiliar with.

A lot of the ECU administration’s moves have been unprecedented, albeit an unprecedented event put these actions in motion, but it has done serious damage to my ability and opportunity to take full advantage of my education here.

I chose to come to ECU so I could experience all that its campus and classrooms had to offer and instead, a very large portion of my time here is being spent learning how to adjust to online instruction and dodging spiteful professors aiming to catch cheaters, or violations of academic integrity, by creating a very restrictive learning environment.

College is already pretty hard, and COVID-19 didn’t do anything but make it harder, and the cheaters have made the situation much worse. This is not a simple or easy time to be a college student, and I believe professors and members of ECU administration need to maintain an open line of communication in order to help guide everyone out of the era of mostly online instruction that was forced upon us.

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