Defeating the imposters
This is going to be a slightly different post, touching on a few things but not particularly exploring any "new" thoughts today for reasons that I'll touch on at the end.
Like anyone with a sensible dose of imposter syndrome, I doubt myself all the time. But something someone tweeted me last week has stuck with me on a personal level, feeling like a chunk of the syndrome was obliterated when they tweeted it. So thankyou to James Dillon of the Queensland University of Technology for your kind words below. Your words resonated for me.
Moving on, it appears that my last post touched a few nerves. I didn't write it to be inflammatory. I was just writing from my experiences and perspective. Obviously the notable thing that I perceived among the conversation afterwards is that professional staff feel mostly invisible. What I found especially pleasing in the conversation afterwards was to see some professional staff (yes I wish there were better terms for us all), and the academics they work with, coming together to commiserate but also to recognise and celebrate the partnerships they have built.
For the record, I'm happy be proven "wrong", to be shown that these partnerships and friendships exist. What is frustrating are the personal and institutional impediments to having these constructive and respectful relationships being the norm, rather than exceptions carved out of circumstance. I've had quite a number of these rewarding professional relationships over the years, and they are made more notable because that's not what the norm looks like. It's from this acknowledgement of your value that confidence stems. The acknowledgment can be in many forms, but it starts down the hall, in everyday interactions.
Most comments on the most were constructive, and the vast majority of conversation around the post was positive.
But if we ever needed a reminder that people who provide contract cheating services are amoral scum, we all received that reminder last week. The comments in question are still up (so police can investigate 😉) under the Cunning Plan post, but *content warning* I don't recommend reading them. As a result, sadly I've had to turn off anon commenting for the blog. So when we in the academic integrity community say students are putting themselves in grave risk, we're not being hyperbolic.
Needless to say, I won't be quitting my job any time soon. In fact, this trash encourages me to continue my work to destroy the contract cheating market. And to the students engaged in activity such as this, I can guarantee that a sizeable proportion of you will suffer much greater consequences from these "companies" than I can ever deliver. Blackmail, identity theft, on and on for years after you've left uni you'll still be paying the price.
Lastly, responsibility for the growth in these services lies at many feet, not least of which are universities. We will never "eradicate" cheating, but we can put very serious dents in it, and we can radically change the risk/reward calculation students make, and actually reduce cheating significantly. Some of us have relatively cheap and scalable methods, but it will take leadership and courage to look in your dark places and turn on the light. Any senior leaders who come across this post, ask yourself- how prepared are you to look the problem square in the eye and act?
Until next time, KM