Is it Sinful to Report/Not Report "Academic Dishonesty?"

Hello all. This has been on my mind for awhile. At my university, it is a student’s responsibility to report anyone who violates the honor system (such violations include cheating and plagiarism). It is a pledge that all the students at my university must agree to.

I have been a witness to some of these things, but I never reported any of them. Mainly, it is because I fear peer pressure and being ostracized by my fellow students. Also, (these are justifications made after the fact) I am not sure if “responsibility” translates to “obligation” or, if by reporting them, I am committing the sin of detraction. Not to mention, I do not personally associate with these people so, unless I get their names and student id numbers or something, I would have to go on my own investigation of their identities just to report them.

However, that is why I would like to ask the people of this forum to provide me some guidance on this issue in hopes that I may be sure of what is good and strengthen my resolve to do the right thing. I thank you all in advance for your help.

It sounds as though your scrupulosity is clouding your judgment. Discuss this with a priest or counselor. You are not responsible for the behavior of others. You don’'t need to watch or investigate them.

If you have strong evidence of a clear wrongdoing, report.

If not, mind your own business.

Not because I support cheating, but because you can cause someone great harm if you misjudge the situation.

The cheaters are ultimately hurting themselves – after they graduate, their incompetence will be caught on the job immediately.

I would ask your priest/spiritual director about something like this.


As a college professor I can say with some certainty:

  1. we are not clueless individuals, we usually know and can see if a student is doing something “questionable” when taking an exam. Chances are the professor already sees what is going on.

  2. usually nothing is said during the exam because of the disruption of the class in a highly tensed atmosphere — unless it is blatant

  3. most professors investigate privately and there are procedures that have to be followed in most colleges

  4. you do not have to investigate, but if you report something you may have to write a statement of what you see and/or heard. In many places your name will not be used but a witness can be very important

  5. the professor usually decides to conduct or not conduct an investigation – not you

  6. I can understand you hesitancy but remember, silence implies consent. Remember that part of the college experience is preparing you for the workplace. Not saying something because of fear of ostracism and peer pressure is a bad habit to develop as a future employee. If you were the boss and one of your subordinates was cheating on you and others knew about it, wouldn’t you want them to tell YOU?

Just some things to think about,

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