Cheating incident unsettles student body

Ryan Wangman and Maia Sanders

According to a study done by Stanford University, 75% of high school students admit to participating in academic misgivings.  With an increase in pressure to succeed,  students are focusing more on getting A’s in their classes instead of learning for their own benefit.  At a selective high school like Whitney Young, the expectations of students are at an all time high, causing students to resort to any and every method available in order to score that coveted “A”. The pressure is especially high during exam week when grades are being finalized.  

During this stressful time, the administration was given a tip about a cheating incident that took place in one of the math classes.  The administration and math teacher involved declined to comment, but one of the students involved in the scandal was interviewed anonymously. He talked to us about the events that transpired, the danger of group chats, and the breakdown of trust within the student community.


Tell us a little bit about what happened.

Alright, it all started on the day of the test. I can remember it like the day I first rode my bike. It was on a Thursday and I was in 4th period. A fellow student of mine asked me if I was in [Math Teacher X]’s class and I said yes, so he said, let me add you to this group chat and so I got added. And I saw that I was added to a group of 20 other students that had access to the [Math Teacher X]’s  final, and I was thinking, “wow, this is crazy,” but knowing that I already had a solid grade in the class I was like, I don’t need to cheat, forget about this.


I was like okay whatever, it’s not like I was going to tell on anyone because you don’t want to see anyone get in trouble but you also don’t want to get involved. So I just left it there, but I made the poor decision to forward the test to another student, which is usually what you do, you just pass along information. Regardless if you need it or if the other person needs it. I mean, that’s probably what the other person was thinking when they added me to the Group chat, thinking they might be helping me, when in reality it was just a hindrance for everybody.


And so, then it came to test time, everything was pretty normal, everyone was just taking their tests. But by the end of 6th period, I knew that Fan-dog [Mr. Fanning] had caught the scent, and he was ready. I was called to the office, and it was weird because I was called to the office when the person who made the test was not. So it was bizarre that I got called to the office first. So I was there, and he asked me about the group chat, and I said, “Well, I did not start this group chat, I was just merely added to it.” So he asked me who I sent it to, and how many people I sent it to, and I said one, and at first it seemed like he didn’t believe me, but I kept insisting that I sent it to one person, and he finally believed me.


Soon enough, the main person was caught, quickly to say, because apparently Mr. Fanning heard about it 20 minutes before the period ended. Which was bizarre, it’s like, how fast does that happen? He also called [Math Teacher X] to the room, and [Math Teacher X] arrived and also didn’t know what was happening, which was bizarre, because you’d think that [Math Teacher X] told Mr. Fanning about this but no, it was another student.


Another student that was involved in the Group chat?

Yeah, it was another student, and they must’ve been involved in the Group chat, because they also provided Mr. Fanning with a list of the names of the people on the Group chat. Which is bizarre because usually students don’t go out of their way to…



Yeah, to you know, “snitch”.


So, why do you think that they did that?

Well my assumption is that this person probably didn’t ask to get added to this group chat. That’s probably also what happened to the 20 other students because I mean, there were probably a few people who wanted to be added, but there were also people, you have to assume, that didn’t want to be added. This was probably a random person who didn’t want to get added, and they also probably didn’t know most of the people in the chat, and they saw that nothing bad could happen to them if they told Mr. Fanning about this test, so they probably saw that as an easy way to bring justice to what seemed like a difficult situation.


And so, how do you think that person is perceived now in the school community?

Well, now students have to keep their eyes out because say there are study groups where people aren’t necessarily cheating, but they’re providing help, say this person joins the group, and someone will throw the test in there or something that looks like a test, another fiasco like this could happen again. Probably this person’s trust-I mean, we don’t know who this person is-if people found out, would be broken and we’d probably have to keep this guy on watch.


Do you think now that students trust each other less as a result of this incident?

Yeah. There’s certainly some hoohah going around with this fiasco, knowing that we don’t know who the student is and who can really trust who in this situation? Can you really trust a group chat that you don’t know? Can you trust any group chat now? This doesn’t just go for tests, this goes for anything. If you don’t know somebody, if somebody didn’t ask to be added, can you really trust spreading around precious information?


Do you think if this person hadn’t leaked this information to administration, would this whole thing have ever been found out? Would [Math Teacher X] have found out?

[Math Teacher X]? I don’t know…but Mr. Fanning, he is the Fan-dog, he catches a scent of cheating like a bloodhound does to a crime. I assume it would be difficult, because this was a Group chat, and [Math Teacher X] can’t be added to it. So unless [Math Teacher X] saw someone cheating on the test, or someone told [Math Teacher X], this probably would’ve been hard to find out, knowing that teachers can’t monitor group chats that students form. This entire fiasco wouldn’t have gotten, as I say “popped” if a student hadn’t told Mr. Fanning about this.


So, what was the punishment and do you think it was fair?

The punishment for students who were in the group chat was that they simply had to retake the test, which I believe is fair. And for me, I received a two day ISS, for receiving the test and then forwarding it. I don’t know, I feel that there should be a punishment for forwarding information, and I understand that it was definitely on me for forwarding because who knows, this other person could’ve forwarded it to another 20 people. So I think that the punishment was just. But I feel like regardless of the whole cheating aspect, people should be allowed to retake the test, regardless of what they did.


If you could change something about the way things happened, would you? What would you have done differently, if anything?

I definitely would’ve changed some aspects of this. I would’ve immediately left the group chat, just not gotten involved, and just gone about my ways. Not talked about it, not spread information, just stuck to my own grind, ya know?


What would you tell a student who finds themselves in a situation like this in the future?

Students in the future, you should definitely watch out for situations like this, regardless if it’s an academic group chat or any other group chat. If you got added without asking to be added, chances are other people did too. If you’re going to add or be added to something, make sure you’re okay with it, you know what you’re getting into, and you know who you’re inviting to your group chat. Obviously from this event, nobody can be trusted really, so it really puts a strain on student relations and what not. A true fiasco.


Thanks for sharing your perspective of the story with the Beacon!

After talking with our anonymous student, it is clear that there is now an issue of trust within the student community.   Students have to watch out for themselves instead of trying to help their friends succeed. This incident has shown that WY is indeed a place of competition, and students need to re-evaluate their relationships with peers and decide who they can trust. Hopefully students will learn from their mistakes, or the mistakes of others, so cheating can be reduced at this school.

Photo Courtesy of Lyle Myers, Bryson Bal-Cuello, Mariel Beverly Clemente, Zoey Matilliano, and Jordan Moore