Uh-oh. You wake up thirty minutes before a class that starts at 11. You have no way of getting to school in thirty minutes. You call a friend who has a gonggang (a free period between classes) to go to class for you and take the attendance. Relieved that you now have three more hours until your next class, you turn on the computer to work on the report that is due today. "Referring" to the three papers downloaded from the Internet, you rush to copy and paste the important parts from the papers and finish the report. With a satisfied grin on your face, light footsteps carry you to school and you realize that everything turned out flawlessly.
Asking another person to take the attendance on your behalf, plagiarizing or even taking an exam for someone else is not an unusual practice for students. "There are many students, including me, who leave class right after roll call, answer roll or attend Chapel for someone else," said an International Studies student who wished to remain anonymous. She even added that some students offer to give money if someone else attends Chapel, a service that all Ewha students have to attend once a week.
Even though attendance is one of the most basic etiquettes that should be kept among students, some students just do not take it seriously. "In some classes, students can still get a satisfying score by just being present at the moment of roll call and cramming over books and materials handed out during class," said a French Literature student who also wishes to remain anonymous. As these cases are common, Professor Woo Won-seok (International Studies) decided not to take roll at all and leave it to the conscience of the students in Introduction to International Business class last year after finding out that some students leave the class right after roll call.
Other acts of deception include plagiarism and cheating, which is also a problem among students. Students who believe getting a good grade irrespective of how that grade is obtained seem not to find guilt in plagiarizing. "In classes like Elective Chorus, I felt like there was more significance in turning in the report rather than the content of the report. The professor did not seem to read through the reports, so I was tempted to plagiarize," said a student who took the class last semester.
Another student recounted experiences of searching the Internet before writing a report after going to a musical and copying the impressions written by someone else. "DoesnÕt every student start out by searching the Internet? We are likely to find information that is useful for our report written by someone else and we just find it more convenient to just copy it. Everyone does it and I don't think the professors actually have a way of finding out." However, in regards to these actions of plagiarism prevalent among students, Professor Park Ji-hyun, who came to teach Western Modern History at Ewha from Sogang University, said in her first class that she would lead discussions during class to grade students rather than assigning reports to prevent plagiarism.
Students also use various measures to cheat and get a higher score on their exams than they deserve. In a class that allowed the use of electronic dictionaries on a test, some students put in titles and authors of literature works, which were likely to be on the exam, in their electronic dictionaries.
Moreover, deceiving oneself also occurs in relationships among students as they go about their university life. A student said that whenever she went on meetings (blind dates) with friends who were a year younger than her because she entered university a year later, she lied that she was actually a year younger. She felt that if she was perceived a year older she would lose out compared to students who were younger than her. Likewise, students deceive each other by pretending to be someone that they are not.
According to Professor Ahn Hyun-nie, a graduate student was found to be deceiving other students and professors that she was a hard-working and studious student. When students asked her how much she studied, she always emphasized that she had studied so much and when she was habitually not prepared for study groups, she said it was because even though she read it many times, the material was too hard for her. However, it turned out she was not a diligent or studious student with high grades even though the professors and students completely believed her to be such. Later, she ended up dropping out of graduate school because she could not keep up with her studies.
These acts of deception, believing that there is nothing wrong in portraying oneself as someone that one is not, attending classes for another student or plagiarizing are not limited to university life. Like the recent disgraced art professor Shin Jeong-ah, and the uncovered fake degrees of other professors or celebrities, some students also record fake information on their resumes. "When I was applying for an internship at Korea Herald, I accidentally wrote a GPA higher than what mine really was. I later found out that my GPA was actually lower, but the company did not know," said a student who wished to remain anonymous. Another student who received a 7.6 on her IELTS wrote that she had actually received an 8. Such small actions of deception, like raising one's TOEFL score, generate nods among students knowing that they too have performed such an act at least once before themselves.
The acts of deception carried out by students can be largely classified into three groups, namely, academics, career development, and relationships. Students, wanting to be perceived as better than they really are or as someone who they wish to be, deceive even themselves as they portray themselves as someone else. Asking a friend to answer roll, copying and pasting from theses downloaded from the Internet, or entering false information on resumes are all actions of deception that students go through each day without much thought. Are we living each day deceiving ourselves, deceiving others and being deceived by others?