Dear Student: Integrity, it matters

Integrity has been on my mind a lot lately. We are in the midst of reference writing season for medical school and one of the assessment points is to rate each candidate on integrity. It’s a strange ranking scale to begin with because in my mind, students have integrity, or they have shown to not. But, I have to select how high they rank for integrity compared to their peers.

For the most part, the students I agree to write letters of reference for are strong in a number of the categories, but I tend to particularly elect to write for students who I can state confidently that I have observed acting with truthfulness. Integrity matters. It matters to professional schools, it matters in life and it matters to me.

Unfortunately the last few weeks have been filled with students behaving in a way that is not truthful. I have been surprised to the extent students have already gone to lie in order to obtain just a fraction of their grade in mini assignments. However, the truth will always find you out and there are many ways to determine if a student is lying. It saddens me, and also makes me angry. I have felt insulted that the cases I have been involved in over the last two weeks have even occurred. News flash, online assignments are trackable. Instructors can see when you log in (if you log in at all), what you did and when you did it by. I spend the time to ensure that I haven’t made an error, but in all cases these were all lies.

It also frustrates me because I am more hesitant to believe when students are telling the truth. The time I have to take to investigate each claim takes time away from being able to answer students with real questions and real issues. I don’t want to become cynical, but it is taking a great deal of strength to not be super disappointed with behaviour as of late.

So dear student, take responsibility for your failures, do not make up excuses and accept the fault. Act with integrity because it matters.

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