"Beliefs; The university's role in instilling a moral code among students? None whatever, some argue" is an article written by Peter Steinfels. The article focuses on the opinion of several college professors about whether morality and an ethical code of conduct should be taught in universities. The article presents both sides of the argument and quotes from different educators but does not take a stand on whether ethics should be part of the university curriculum or not.
My initial reaction after reading this article was that academic institutions should only focus on education. I believed that a code of ethics should be established by my parents and my family and to some extent by teachers in grade school. After all, I reasoned, by the time I was 18 and in university, I already knew what was right or wrong and there was no need to waste time on an ethics class. I started to agree with Dean Fish who is quoted in the initial paragraphs of this article as writing in "The Chronicle of Higher Education," "You can't make them into good people, and you shouldn't try." After all, people never agree on what is right or wrong and everyone has their own standards and opinions. Starting a discussion would only open up a whole can of worms so it was best for Universities to forget about teaching ethics and to do what John J. Mearsheiner says in this article, and to leave it to the student, "to figure out the truth if there is one."
As I continued to read, I did figure out the truth, and changed my mind about my initial thesis--that the University should focus on academics and be "collectively silent on the issue of morality." That approach has not worked I believe. Cheating is very common within many universities. I remembered that as a youngster, I once saw a program on television that was talking about a student who would charge other students and do their papers for them. He was a very gifted writer and all of his clients got good grades. However it was very dishonest.
As a college student, I know that there is definitely an enormous number of students that cheat or plagiarize. Even more disturbing is the way that many students define cheating and plagiarism. For example, my friend told me that he believed that cutting and pasting a few sentences from various web sources without acknowledgment is not plagiarism. Before the internet, students certainly plagiarized, but they had to plan ahead to do so. Nowadays it's so easy. To this day fraternities and sororities often have files of term papers that they share with each other. In the previous decade, plagiarism required more thought and some planning. Today, online term-paper sites changed all that. Overnight, students could order a term paper, print it out and have it ready for class in the morning and still get a good night's sleep. All they needed was a charge card. It is unfortunate to see how ethics in the American culture is constantly...