Last semester, the number of Honor Council cases reported was 58, which is one and a half times the number of cases reported all of last year. So the question is this: should the college adopt new policies to reduce the number of cases in light of the pandemic? Simply put, no.
Online schooling is hard. It’s not hard because it’s more rigorous or difficult. It’s not hard in a way that inspires motivation and eustress. For many people, it’s simply boring. This is especially true for people taking classes at home in their room. Over interim — when I returned to my hometown of Portland, OR — I had to get up before seven o’clock in the morning every weekday to take a four-hour-long class in a language I barely spoke; I wasn’t the most engaged.
There is no doubt that the pandemic has added extra unsung challenges to the already demanding expectation of being a St. Olaf student. Is that the Honor Council’s problem? No.
There is not a single person on the planet that isn’t being negatively affected by the pandemic, and because of its universality, no one is expecting perfection. Professors are being told to be more lenient with grading, and many of them are struggling with their own workload along with the students.
Policies that would reduce honor council cases could only be policies that are more lenient with students cheating, and I think that’s unfair. Plus the reason for who and why someone is reported is so situational that no policy could ever reduce the amount of cheating at St. Olaf, it could only make the workload lighter for the honor council staff.
It’s important to mention that half of the 58 cases from last semester were either not heard or had no violation found as the result of an investigation. This is good news. While I don’t want to overwork anyone during a pandemic, I do not see a high amount of reports — especially when the way classes are being taught has been fundamentally changed — as a bad thing.
Aidan Sivers-Boyce ’22 is from
His major is English.