Make tOSU COAM punishments less harsh during SP2020 pandemic

Make tOSU COAM punishments less harsh during SP2020 pandemic

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Jane Doe started this petition to The Ohio State University Committee on Academic Misconduct (COAM)

It is well known that the amount of Committee on Academic Misconduct (COAM) cases during the spring 2020 semester at The Ohio State University is already much higher than average, especially concerning exams of any kind. While cheating on any assignments in indeed immoral, the state that many students’ lives and mental capacities currently during this pandemic often lead to decisions that the students would not otherwise make. The anxiety and uncertainty is known to invoke a fight-or-flight response, causing some students who would never under ‘normal’ circumstances violate COAM policies to do so through cheating, plagiarism, etc. Many students, while it is not the appropriate response, simply violate university policy because they are desperate and trying to attain any amount of certainty in their lives at the current moment: increased certainty in grades. Students may deal with mental and emotional trauma in a manner that they would normally condone.

This being said, violating policies regarding academic misconduct is not the appropriate way to deal with the uncertainty of this pandemic. However, as COAM is known for being extremely harsh on their punishments, it is recommended that COAM reduce their intensity of punishments during this pandemic. The main reason for most increased cheating is due to the pandemic itself, otherwise these levels of COAM cases would occur every semester (if students were really that motivated to cheat, they would find a way). For example, COAM should reduce the amount of expulsions or final grades of E in a course due to cheating cases. The students could still receive a 0 for an assignment/exam in question, but not such a harsh punishment that will threaten their futures, scholarships, etc. Students’ futures should not be jeopardized because of mistakes they made during a lapse of judgment amidst a pandemic.

Since most students likely cheat during these weeks to feel slightly less anxious about their life and grade in a course, it is ironic that COAM punishments be so harsh to cause even more mental toll on the student. To repeat: students can still be punished and made aware of their wrongdoing—in a way that accounts for the extremely unprecedented times of today. Many comments have been made that tOSU, more specifically COAM, cares more about ‘catching’ students than their mental health and understanding why so many students have violated policies. There is a way to have a student face the consequences and learn from their actions while still regarding the current world situation.

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