EDITORIAL: What is Academic Integrity?

Updated: Dec 31, 2020


Artwork by Michelle Dong, staff artist

I believe that academic integrity is much more than simply not cheating. Whilst this is a belief I’ve formed recently, it is one that I nevertheless hold very deeply. It all started back in November of 2019.


“Last week, a class three student was brought before the disciplinary committee for an incident of academic dishonesty. During a very difficult physics test, the student looked over at another student’s paper in search of the answer to one of the problems. The student was soon after caught and confronted about the incident, to which he confessed immediately. The disciplinary committee reminds all students to maintain their academic integrity during this busy exam period and to think deeply about consequences before they act.” We stared blankly ahead. No one dared to speak. We all realized how serious this was. After several more seconds of painfully awkward silence, our teacher ended homeroom and sent us off on our day. As we walked out of the room, a few people discussed the event and some even made jokes about it. Before long, it was no longer a matter of importance for students. Yet for some reason, the incident stuck with me. I had heard this speech from our Disciplinary Committee representative several times before, yet for some reason, this time felt different. As I went to each of my classes, certain teachers decided to discuss the incident with students. And every time it was brought up; they used the same phrase. “He compromised his academic integrity.” While I didn’t disagree with them, the constant use of the phrase made me really reflect on what “academic integrity” means. Is it just a nice way to avoid using the word cheat, or is it something more than that? And at that moment I asked myself what Roxbury Latin, the institution I have been a part of for almost five years, wants me to believe what academic integrity is. I came to the conclusion that the school’s definition of academic integrity was “not cheating”. But, I believe that academic integrity is so much more than that. I believe that academic integrity is what you make of it yourself. As the dictionary defines it, integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles”. But, the idea of morality isn’t just a cut and dry concept for every person; it’s something that changes from individual to individual. And that’s exactly the way it should be. For me, academic integrity is so much more than not cheating or plagiarizing. It’s doing yourself justice on every quiz, homework, or test that bears your name. It’s putting enough effort into each assignment that you’re proud to turn it in and call it your own. It’s understanding that every piece of work you call your own is a representation of yourself and that you have a responsibility to act as such in all you do in school. This is the code that I apply to every single day of my academic life.


And it’s this meaning of academic integrity that I am proud to hold. 


#editorial #school #academics #educationsystem

Edozie Umunna is a staff writer at The Incandescent Review. He is a current senior at Roxbury Latin from Roxbury, Massachusetts. He’s an avid soccer, basketball and football fan and is also passionate about social justice and political reform. A fun fact about Edozie is that he holds citizenship in three different countries. Follow him on Instagram @edozie.umunna.



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