In almost all societies, moral integrity in every sphere of life is emphasized. More often than not, there are repercussions if laid down rules and regulations are not adhered to. Arguably, this is only as far as observing the law is concerned. Integrity is not necessarily about being a law abiding citizen, rather being morally conscious and doing the right thing at the right place in the right way. It is about doing such right things as circumstances may dictate, irrespective of if one is being watched or not. In light of this, academic integrity is often stressed. It is as important as any other moral obligation. Why is it such a significant factor as far as public and personal life are concerned? How does the lack of it affect society?
In today’s society, the biggest blockade that people face when it comes to academic integrity is keeping their education pursuits free of corruption. The integrity of the academic environment has suffered with the copying of exams being one of the biggest issues. The issue that compromises the integrity most within the education system is the awarding of grades to people who don’t merit. A good example is where the professor is accused of trading academic grades for sexual favors. In the same breath, an instructor may just decide to be complacent, even in a situation where it is clear an academic regulation has been breached. Such loopholes have far reaching effects in the social arena, as productivity is generally compromised. This happens when less qualified people with excellent academic grades are absorbed into the labor market (Bertram 83). Leadership positions that require certain qualifications may be filled by people who do not deserve them. What worse thing can a society have than poor leadership? It is indeed a pity if such is as a result of lack of integrity in academics.
Most institutions of learning place emphasis on academic integrity. The Michigan State University (MSU) is no exception. Its policy on academic integrity is quite clear. It stresses that principles of honesty and truth are integral in a community of scholars and teachers. In the policy statement, it is expected that the validity of University grades be protected by both student and faculty, who shall honor the said principles in all their works. Students are expected to do and complete all assignments as regards academic work on their own, without any kind of aid. Instructors have been given the responsibility to plan and supervise all academic work, and they are expected in that capacity to ensure that all regulations in that respect are followed. In instances where the instructor feels the converse of what is expected has been done, they shall take necessary action, which is to procedurally give a failing grade to the affected student. Such measures have a greater societal good since in addition to ensuring that only qualified individuals are absorbed into the workforce, they also play a central role in generating a better crop of leaders. A case may be considered where a student cheats his way in academics and is awarded the best grades that make him one of the best to choose from. If he is in the field of medicine for instance, it means he will most likely not be competent enough in that discipline, yet he will be hired. The impact of such an occurrence could be very suicidal, having even heavier effects on society. It is unimaginable to think what could happen if an unqualified surgeon were given a patient to operate on. Worse still, a scenario may arise where certain academic requirements are a must for a given leadership position. A candidate with grades not genuinely attained then applies for such a position and the job is granted. The society will have been cheated since such people will be occupying public office that they in reality should not. The result of that is poor service delivery and general incompetence whose effects affect the society at large (Bertram et al. 157). For instance, such leaders are bound to make poor decisions whose impact is felt directly by the subjects.
Aristotle, who is among some of the greatest philosophers ever witnessed, had his take on integrity. He said that irrespective of what circumstances one may be facing, they have a choice to act nobly if they are wise and truly good. He figuratively referred to a general using in the best way the troops available for him, the same way a shoemaker uses the leather available to him to make the best shoe (Aristotle n.p). He implied that people must not blame circumstances for their questionable actions. Irrespective of the situation at hand, all have a choice to act with integrity. This may be in line with one of the self-help suggestions as availed by the MSU counseling centre. They stress on developing an attitude to cope with prevailing circumstances. This kind of attitude focuses on the need to explore all available options in any situation and acting accordingly. When the way ahead seems blocked, it is better not to do anything at all, just to preserve the integrity (Bleeker 102). To connect this to academic integrity, a situation may be illustrated where a student is sitting for a paper and they perhaps, do not know the answers to a certain question. Instead of taking out pocket-size notebooks hidden in their garments, it may be advisable to think and try to remember anything related to that topic. Such could help them write something that could earn them a mark or two. Even better than cheating, they may leave the answer sheets blank.
It is worth mentioning that the completed survey has changed my attitude towards education. I now appreciate that all is not about grades, rather preparing an integral person who is largely responsible and morally conscious. How one faces life in general is a major concern for parents, handling isolated situations satisfactorily without comprising societal moral standards. This change of attitude is now taking a central stage even in the way I handle my academics. In as much as I want to see my dreams come true, the end does not have to justify the means. I dream to be a CEO in one of the leading local companies. In order to achieve that, I have to work hard and attain the necessary academic qualifications, but they have to be genuine. I do not have to take shortcuts; I just need to work hard. Ensuring integrity and honesty in my academic work is crucial since I now know to be an effective leader calls for more than just grades. One’s personality counts to a great deal and integrity is paramount in such a context (Underwood 67). I will be required to make decisions in my capacity as CEO or even in lesser positions before I get to the peak. In situations where I shall be faced with an ethical dilemma, I know matters will be easier if I am integral. I have to start practicing it now to become the person the society wants me to be, much the same way I must achieve my life goals.
Integrity in academics, like in any other sphere of life, may be a thin line separating real winners from the rest of the flock. What can be better in this life than being a real winner! Let all strive to succeed but observe integrity. Excellence is in the small details; it is magnified if integrity prevails in such matters as a simple Continuous Assessment Test. The rewards are bigger in such than the grades awarded.
Aristotle, , and Michael Prichard. Nicomachean Ethics. Old Saybrook, Ct.: Tantor Media, 2011. Sound recording.
Bertram, Gallant T, Kelly Ward, and Lisa E. Wolf-Wendel. Academic Integrity in the 21st Century: A Teaching and Learning Imperative. San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass, 2008. Print.
Bertram, Gallant T. Academic Integrity in the Twenty-First Century: A Teaching and Learning Imperative. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. Print.
Bleeker, Karen C. To Be Honest: Championing Academic Integrity in Community Colleges. Washington, DC: Community College Press, 2008. Print.
Underwood, Clarence. The Student Athlete: Eligibility and Academic Integrity. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1984. Print.