What to Do When Others are Cheating

Academic dishonesty is not a victimless crime. The reality is that students are in competition with each other. Higher grades mean a better chance at scholarships, or placement in special programs and professional faculties. Someone who is cheating on any kind of academic exercise - papers, exams, assignments or whatever - is giving him or herself an unfair academic advantage and is cheating everyone else in the class.

So what should you do if you see it happening and your instructor doesn't?

  • Talk to your instructor. It is part of his or her job to monitor the class. When instructors are missing something, they usually appreciate the heads-up. If possible, call the instructor's attention to cheating as it is happening (in the exam, for example) so that he or she can address it.
  • Point out the behaviour to the TA, if you are more comfortable doing that.
  • If your instructor doesn't want to get involved, contact the Chair of the Department. The Code of Student Behavior stipulates that instructors must address all cases of Inappropriate Academic Behaviour.
  • Discourage your friends and classmates from cheating. Positive peer pressure can be a powerful thing and they may think twice about cheating if they know their friends and classmates don’t appreciate what they are doing.
  • You may want to report an incident of cheating anonymously. Usually this does not provide the University with enough information to proceed with a complaint and they may not be able to follow up on the information unless they are able to discuss it with you further. Don’t hesitate to make yourself known to your TA, professor, or Associate Dean when you know cheating is happening.
  • You can also contact the Student OmbudService for advice on what to do when cheating is going unchecked in your class.
  • Whatever you do, don't resort to academic dishonesty yourself! There are always better alternatives to dealing with the dishonesty of others. Don't compromise your own integrity and your own academic record.
It is important to know that the Code of Student Behaviour process is totally confidential. If you report a student cheating and never hear anything about it, that doesn’t mean nothing is being done! The University and its officials are not permitted to tell you what is happening but rest assured, they appreciate your assistance!