Thoughts on Academic Integrity

Academic integrity! Get excited! No? It's important to keep in mind that integrity isn't just an annoying email or a “hip” and “rad” online tutorial. In the world of university and scholarship, you are your integrity. As our work is a reflection of ourselves, so too is the integrity of that work a personal representation. We have a solemn responsibility to present only our truest, best selves for review.

I didn't arrive at Georgetown thinking, “guys, I'm going to copy so many papers, like, all the papers;” it was more of an, “I don't know any of these people, what am going to do with the rest of my life, good lord midterms.” That state of mind easily slips into academic dishonesty. Just one little homework assignment so I can get more than 5 hours of sleep for the first time in a week? I'll save time by not checking my citations. They're probably fine anyway.

The moral foundations of integrity are obvious, but consider this:

Tuition, class fees, and books cost a lot.

I mention this not to assign monetary value to everything we do (does my struggle from Henle to Car Barn on Tuesday mornings have market value? If so, it's for sale). It's about lending perspective to how valuable these four years are.

We invest heavily in the present because we know it preludes the rest of our lives. Little considered is how vital our integrity is to that investment. If we pretend to be someone else, we're investing in their ideas, not our own. No one benefits.

Integrity is a personal decision. It can seem life or death: copy this assignment or watch your GPA plummet, right? Not necessarily.

Wonderful people work at this school, and I'm not just saying that because they're publishing my article. You are lucky to have a truly caring team of deans and professors. Their goal is your goal. Your professors don't expect a personal revelation after grading your problem set—they want you to realize something new.

Think about others, but feel free to be selfish. Reaching out, working with integrity, I guarantee you'll come out class with more knowledge. Isn't that the goal?

—Ellen Singer (C'18), economics and religious studies major