Dear members of the UBC community.
I would like to begin by acknowledging that I am speaking to you from the traditional and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.
In a few short weeks, exams will begin for UBC students. Exam time is always stressful of course, but this year, you may find it more difficult than ever because you will be studying for and taking your exams in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you are experiencing difficulties, UBC has supports that will help you thrive during exam time or any time. You can find a guide to these resources at students.ubc.ca and at students.ok.ubc.ca. We’re here to help you make the most of your UBC experience.
Unfortunately, some students – a small minority – may be tempted to take shortcuts to write their exams, which can be even more tempting when your exams are online. This would be a very serious situation, which would cross an ethical line, be dishonest, and have serious implications.
Don’t go down that path. I know that getting a good grade is important; but going to university is not all about grades – it is about learning and about growing as an individual.
Academic integrity is important, both to the university and also to your own values. UBC has an outstanding reputation for scholarship and learning, a reputation that is based in part on the integrity of our teaching.
You can take pride in being a student here because of our rigorous academic standards, and you can take pride in the marks you get. But if those marks are based in part on academic misconduct, there is no pride in that.
Not only is it dishonest – it’s harmful. It harms your professor because you have betrayed their trust, it harms your classmates who follow the rules, and it harms your family who trusted in you. Most of all, it harms you.
As Kwame Anthony Appiah wrote in the New York Times last week, “preparing for exams can help you develop skills that are useful in later life. All of which is to say that one person you’re letting down when you don’t do the work is you.”
And of course, academic misconduct can have serious consequences. The penalties can include a failing grade, suspension or even expulsion or the revocation of a degree. It can even affect your life after university and limit your career options.
It’s just not worth it. A lower grade, honestly earned, is worth much more than a higher grade that is earned through cheating.
I have faith in UBC students to do the right thing, and I know you will do the best you can in the exams and in your courses. You and your loved ones will be able to take pride in the fact that you succeeded under very difficult circumstances.
My shoutout this week is to Ali Poostizadeh, president of the UBC Okanagan Students Union, and to his entire team.
Ali is passionate about racial equity, women’s rights, human rights, and poverty eradication. His goal is to make UBCO a leader in equity and inclusivity for all marginalized groups.
Following graduation, he hopes to pursue a career in the legal field with a focus on civil and human rights. Ali exemplifies the dedication, selflessness and passion that our student leaders bring to their posts. Ali, thank you for all you’ve done and all you are doing.
Finally, I wanted to take a moment to mention that UBC’s annual United Way Campaign is underway.
We know that doing something meaningful for others is an important way to build positive mental health and wellbeing. We can achieve this by supporting individuals and families in our communities by donating to United Way. Thank you for supporting UBC’s United Way Campaign.
And now, I’d like to end with a #songsofcomfort selection by violist Calvin Yang (@fantaziviolist), who performs Nessun Dorma from Turandot by Giacomo Puccini. I hope you enjoy it.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor