We must have encountered the moment where our friends, or even ourselves, cheated on a test or assignment in school or university. The reasons vary: lack of ability, practicality, forgetfulness, being busy, or even culture.

Cheating on a test is a seed of vicious behavior that, unless there is a willingness to improve it, will likely lead to a bigger vice in the future, such as corruption. However, cultural factor has hampered the efforts to raise awareness on this issue.

Based on my personal experience, I was in a dilemma when my college friend asked for the answers during a test. I worked hard for the test and I did not like it when my answers were copied by my friend who did not study as hard, if at all. On the other hand, I feel bad for my friend, especially if s/he was a close one. Was I weak for not upholding the principle of honesty that I believe in so much? I was caught between a fight or a friendship.

The fight means not relenting to the pressure from my friend because it is against my principle. But when it comes to friends, our judgment is often skewed. At the end, I gave all the test answers to my friend. Only years later that I realized how wrong my decision was.

I am now aware that friendship is subjective and can justify questionable deeds. I should have stuck to my principles and emphasized on objectivity. I could uphold my strong principle and still have good social relationship. The culture of cheating should not be seen as a small matter that does not require special solution because the impact is considered insignificant to the public compared to violence, traffic jam or corruption. But if we see those big problems, we should see the roots that are deeply entrenched in our society. 

If we draw a straight line, cheating in school is the starting point while corruption is the end of the line. Cheating at school may not affect public welfare but it is possible to become the gateway to other crimes. The long-term impact of cheating in school is deadlier than when it happens.

Cheating is like eating instant noodle. It is delicious and as the name implies, it is so easy to cook, practical and anybody can do it in a short time. Cheating on a test is the same, with endless tricks that you can master. But it will lead to failure and bigger problems. We only need to choose between a person with strong principles that fight for meaningful victories, or weaklings that lose their beliefs because of our friends.

M. Dodi Al-fayed

Student of Muhammadiyah University in Yogyakarta