Basically the title, I reported cheating and he said, to summarize, "I don't have the time, and cheaters only harm themselves anyway, and they'll find out later down the road."

Anyway, I agree with him, I'm pretty busy and I don't feel like wasting my time reporting cheaters and compiling proof and documents etc., so I'm inclined not to care as well.

I'm just curious though if you were me would you do something or just turn a blind eye?


4 Answers 4


You reported it to the appropriate authority. Unless you have some authority or interest of your own, you've acted ethically even if you do no more.

Doing more has risks. You will use time and energy. Your facts and motives may be questioned. The professor won't be pleased. You may be ostracized. Retaliation isn't unthinkable.

Remember this incident and think about it if you end up in a position where you may receive this kind of information.


This, in a nutshell, comes down to who you actually want to be as a person and in life. Do you want to make your life easy, even if that means cutting corners? Or do you want to be a person who at the end of the day can say "I did the right thing"?

In other words, you're unlikely going to find answers on this forum for your specific question. Of course we all agree that cheating is wrong, as is driving substantially over the speed limit, or letting the cashier give you a $20 bill when it should have been a $10 bill. In the end, how you deal with these questions is who you are, and it will also be how others see you.

  • 1
    @Buffy, no he is just enabling the students to cheat.
    – Aolon
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 6:54
  • 1
    @Buffy Of course not. The question is simply this: You see someone's purse getting stolen. Do you run after the thief, or do you say "not my purse, not my problem"? Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 19:51
  • 1
    @WolfgangBangerth No the question is not "simply this". That's a bad analogy, here I have a superior telling me not to do anything about it. Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 21:25
  • 3
    @PSUChange that just changes the analogy to: You and your professor see someone's purse getting stolen. Your professor says don't do anything about it. Do you run after the thief, or do you say "not my problem"?
    – Allure
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 2:38
  • 2
    @PSUChange I don't know how you would come to this conclusion from the sentence "I don't have the time, and cheaters only harm themselves anyway, and they'll find out later down the road." I only read indifference from that, not a threat. Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 0:15

I would disagree with your professor. Cheaters don't just harm themselves. They harm other students. Consider that there are a finite number of seats for university admission, and a finite number of scholarships and jobs which are decided upon by merit by way of grades.

Cheaters essentially jump ahead in rank above others that worked hard for their grades. This pushes the honest students further down the rank. Arguably, the worse hit students are those honest students at the bottom of the rank who are completely displaced from their opportunities. Those students (even though we and they don't know which) should be reasonably protected from losing opportunities they rightfully earned.

There are many other issues with cheating including changing the moral norm. Consider that cheating by faking a foul in basketball is just part of the game. Does that mean it's ok? Or consider that some couples cheat on each other thinking that it's ok as long as they don't get caught. I've met many people who think this way nowadays. Personally, I'd like children to grow up in a society where this does not become the norm.

An increasing minority of students feel that cheating in academia is ok if you don't get caught. They view academia as a game with referees (instructors) that determine fairness. If the referee doesn't do anything, the game will not be fair. I fully understand that we can't catch all cheaters but we should try to do what we can to minimize the problem.

I would say that it makes the job of an instructor extra burdensome and in many cases untenable when the administration is not on board as well. Maybe your professor is in this situation but doesn't explicitly state it. It's been rather difficult to deal with at my school. I do what I can and I know other instructors that do as well, however, I don't see much support from administration. I see the problem getting much worse.

Access to information is continuing to get easier as resources and technology evolve. I don't see how universities can solve the cheating problem or slow its increasing use without instituting some standard of academic integrity through proctoring of some kind so that we can verify identities and work. I'm not sure how this can be done or if it's even possible.

Just my opinion. I hope it worked out.


Follow university policy.

Your university almost definitely has a policy on how cheaters are to be handled. It might be that cheaters are simply awarded a grade of 0 for that assignment, it might be that they automatically fail that class it might be that they're expelled from the degree entirely. There might be some degree of leniency for first time offenders, or there might not be. It might be left to the discretion of the professor, or there might be an academic dishonesty tribunal that is responsible for ensuring that all academic dishonesty cases recipient due process.

In any case, you should follow the rules and procedures given by your university to the letter; if they contradict what your professor has told you, then you should inform them so that they won't be surprised, but then follow the procedures anyway.

  • but what if I sacrifice my relationship with professor. Miss out on a letter of recommendation, and he may talk bad about me to his colleagues to make me miss out on opportunities just because i went over his head? Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 1:28
  • @PSUChange That's why you let him know that you're going to be following university policy first, so that you don't surprise him with it. You're just following the university rules and procedures, your hands are tied.
    – nick012000
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 1:40
  • The chances that the university policy demands a grader to act in defiance of the instructor of record is negligibly small. Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 1:41
  • @DanielR.Collins I could see a university with a policy like "all staff are to immediately report all instances of academic misconduct to the academic misconduct board" that would require a grader to go over the head of their principal instructor when interpreted literally.
    – nick012000
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 1:43

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