It Takes All Kinds of Cheaters

What do challenging college term papers and long, tedious Disneyland lines have in common? Well, besides the fact that they are both time consuming and tiring, they’re also entirely unnecessary–at least according to those who enjoy a free ride.

Two stories with a common thread recently emerged from msn.com; one investigating the discomforting reality of anonymous writers who create original college term papers for students in exchange for cash, the other unveiling the strange trend of families hiring disabled tour guides to help them skirt the long lines at Disneyland.

In the first story, a young Today Show employee poses as a college student and hires a couple of anonymous Craigslisters to forge a 6-page term paper on the novel ‘Little Women’. She meets them at a local coffee shop with a hidden camera, yielding some fascinating insights into the world of underground college cheating.

In the second story, the Today Show gives us a personal tour of Disneyland, with the producer’s family bypassing the lines by hiring disabled tour guides, also advertised on Craigslist. The tour guides–one of which received a disabled pass for back problems–take us right past the long, uncomfortable, time-consuming lines that we all once thought were an inherent feature of the Disneyland experience.

The underlying brute fact of these two stories, however, is not about term papers or Mickey Mouse; it’s about cheating and human nature. It’s about how, whenever there are loopholes in a system, there will always be people finding the easy way out–whether ethical or not–even in the least suspected of conditions (like Disneyland!).

Freeloading and cheating can pose enormous problems to organizations and societies. But the most sinister part is that they often go undetected. No one suspects any dishonest behavior until it’s too late. Like silent parasites, their most deadly weapon is their ability to pass under the radar without drawing conspicuous attention.

Every organization, therefore, has to be on the lookout for freeloaders. Humans get tested for inconspicuous viruses. Governments design policies to root out devious cheaters. Schools are on the lookout for students who are engaging in academic integrity issues. Testing institutions face similar problems. They are all as vulnerable as Disneyland.

Whether people are sharing tests content one-on-one or it is being distributed more widely online, the fact remains, your intellectual property can easily be compromised. And, if people are willing to cheat in ‘The happiest place on earth,’ with kids in tow, nothing is sacred.

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Christie Zervos

Director of Operations, Caveon Test Security

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