The Judgement Block

I got together recently with W.  She’s a sweet and bubbly young woman, striving to make the most out of her GW years.  Delayed a bit in meeting because of a mid-term she had scheduled for earlier that day, my natural first question for her was, “So W., how did it go?”

Imagine my surprise when her answer was, “Well I was going to cheat but I ended up not doing it.  The teacher moved my spot at the last minute so I wasn’t sitting next to my friend.”

Our coffee date quickly turned into a morality play in my head.  I know that cheating is a reality on college campuses but I think I was most flabbergasted by W.’s openness.  Without fear of judgement, she put her cards on the table.  And because of it, we entered into an honest conversation about her perception that everyone in the class was cheating, about the pressure she feels to get a good grade (particularly in a class she doesn’t perceive as being terribly important), and about what forces (other than just a teacher calling her name) could potentially be at work when she was moved in the classroom.  And just as W. was honest with me, I had the ability to be honest with her about how the conversation wow-ed me and how I thought she was smarter than to cheat in the future.

What honest conversations are you unable to have because your own judgements, or the judgements of others, get in the way?  And what role does academic integrity play in your life, on a campus where everyone feels thirsty to get ahead?

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