Cheating Prevention: Indian Students Asked to Wear Boxes on Their Heads

By: Jessica Sivillo, Nicole Estell, and Darienne Bartsh

Have you ever witnessed someone cheat? Do you think students get away with cheating easily in the United States? Many teachers brainstorm how they can stop cheating in the classroom.

While cheating in the United States is a common occurrence, the problem is more severe in other countries like India. CNN reporter Jesse Yeung explained that a school in India, The Bhagat Pre-University College, encouraged students to wear cardboard boxes on their heads during an exam. After the school received backlash, administrators apologized for their actions. How would you feel if you were asked to wear a cardboard box during an exam? We believe that students should not be subjected to this kind of behavior.

According to Yeung, the school’s request was part of an optional experiment to reduce cheating in the classroom. The experiment was the school’s response to consistent cheating problems over the past few years. In fact, in 2015, parents climbed school buildings to hand their children cheat sheets for their exams.

As you can imagine, cheating in India stems from a much greater issue. Many Indian students endure pressure from their family to be successful and to get out of the poverty cycle. Many high school and college students understand this pressure, but it seems as though the culture in India takes it one step further. Unfortunately, this pressure has negatively impacted Indian student’s mental health and in some situations, students have turned to suicide.

While the cheating persists in the school system, what can educators do to help? Would the outside pressure for students continue if educators had conversations about cheating and the desire to be successful? While we personally do not have definite answers to these questions, we think a conversation must occur with educators, students, and parents.

Ethically, we recognize that there is a problem with asking students to wear cardboard boxes on their heads. However, it seems that the ethical dilemma in Indian school systems is much greater than this issue at hand. What can school systems do to enforce better ethical practices amongst teachers and students?

In our opinion, we feel that educators should talk to their students about cheating in the classroom and how this can impact their future. Teachers should also take the time to address the pressure students face and to show them how to manage the stress. The school system should facilitate a conversation with parents about how their actions can affect their children both positively and negatively.

What do you think school systems and educators can do inside and outside of the classroom to prevent cheating and to help students both academically and personally? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the issue.

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Donald Trump v. Chrissy Teigen

President Donald Trump and celebrity Chrissy Teigen have butted heads for several years, and it has just recently escalated in the last few months. Chrissy is known for her pithy commentary and is an active twitter user. She often tweets to Donald Trump and often voices her strong opinions against him.

The tension escalated when Donald Trump blocked Chrissy Teigen in 2017. In September of 2019, Chrissy Teigen’s husband, John Legend, was on MSNBC talking about the First Step Act. After this interview aired, President Trump complained on Twitter that he and Republicans did not get recognized for this act. In President Trump’s tweets, he singles out Legend and Teigen, and calls her a “filthy mouthed wife”. Teigen then went on Ellen and talked about President Donald Trump and his tweets to her.

President Trump is known for his insulting and rude tweets which are often directed towards specific individuals. He is also known for blocking people on twitter. There are a few ethical issues with his actions. Is it acceptable for the President of the United States to be attacking people via Twitter? Is the President allowed to block people on Twitter? 

We believe these actions are unethical. Egoism and the Liberty theory can be used to explain Trump’s actions. President Trump may gain self-fulfillment by attacking people through Twitter or he may block people on Twitter out of his own self-interest. Also, according to First Amendment rights, President Trump is not allowed to block people on Twitter. Whichever reasons he may use, it is not acceptable for the President to be insulting and attacking individuals through Twitter.

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Diet Culture in Social Media

By: Erika, Isabel, Regina

Instagram and Facebook have recently made a positive step forward in making social media a safer place for all. These two social giants passed a new policy where minors under age 18 are blocked from seeing posts that promote certain weight loss products or cosmetic procedures that could be misleading and harmful to their developing minds. 

Adolescents are not the only people harmed by these kinds of posts. Adults can be fooled by false advertising, too, so “miracle diet” posts are also being banned, monitored and taken down by the two social media applications.

This issue blew up as the craze of promoting these slimming practices has taken over celebrity and influencer feeds, which conveniently reach millions of people, many being teens and young adults. Many of us have seen these posts all over: “Drink this tea and drop 10 pounds in a week,” “Skip dinner; this protein shake is magic,” and the like. 

Kim Kardashian and Cardi B have been especially criticized for their participation in this fad of “miracle” diet posts. 

The behind-the-scenes factors that are not shown in the social media posts celebrities or influencers make about how to look like them include: genetics, aesthetic procedures, photoshop and personal trainers that these posts are paying for. 

This modern case can be applied to a very old ethical theory called the Social Contract Theory. This theory prompts society to establish a set of agreed upon rules, which will work towards a greater common good. In this case, the media giants Instagram and Facebook, set  policies to diminish these harmful posts and unrealistic beauty ideals. Within this contract, various proposed solutions to the issue include the privatization and improvement of common resources as well as their management. 

Is it ethically wrong to make money off of promoting products that can lead to unhealthy dieting practices? Products that can negatively affect how a teen views themself and the concept of body image in general? Yes, we believe it is. Although Instagram and Facebook are actively making an effort to reduce the “diet culture” society has instilled in us, this journey to a physically, mentally, and emotionally healthier society is a long one that will take effort from not only THEM, but US as well.

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Juul & e-Cigarettes: Illegal Marketing, Lung Disease & Federal Investigations

A Juul Starter Pack

Juul Labs (you’ve probably heard of them) produce small nicotine vapes to help adult smokers eliminate cigarettes. While other nicotine vapes are on the market, Juul, specifically, seems to appeal to people like you and me. I, for one, see them all over campus, and many of my friends own one. 

The FDA recently sent a warning letter to Juul regarding the statements they are making about their product. Juul is accused of illegally marketing their product as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. Without any scientific evidence to prove this claim, regulators have cracked down and people are getting worried. 

With marketing and sales practices targeted towards people our age (and younger), featuring social media ads full of bright colors and a “cool vibe,” Juul claims that this was never their intention. However, Juul canbe partially blamed for the nationwide vaping epidemic among America’s youth. Did you know that people our age, statistically, were never supposed to start smoking cigarettes? That is, until Juul came along. 

Not much is known about the long-term health effects of these vape products, making the 450 illnesses and 6 deaths related to vaping a scary situation. I’ve asked all my friends to tryquitting, but it’s clear many students and young adults are already addicted.  

Example of a Juul advertisement

So how did Juul make these decisions that eventually affected consumers, society, cigarette companies, the FDA, families, schools and even those closest to us? Outside pressures, including sources of revenue for the brand, likely influenced where ads were placed, as well the target audience. If a certain age group makes up the majority of your profit, would you risk losing that money”? 

Political pressures are influencing Juul’s current decisions while under close watch of the nation, as the Trump administration, the FDA and the CDC continue to take action, investigate the matter and put bans in place

Even though the purpose of Juul (to wean adult smokers off of cigarettes) has proven to be successful, the other consequences — deaths, illness, a nationwide epidemic — all seem to outweigh any good the brand has contributed to society. What could Juul have done differently? Will they be able to turn this situation around and act ethically in the future? 

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Cheating Review

I’m kicking off my new semester teaching communication ethics with a discussion about an ethical challenge students are familiar with:  Cheating.

A testing center at Penn State uses high-tech surveillance to watch for student cheating.  (Photo:  Jim Lo Scalzo for USN&WR)

When I first taught this class many years ago, I featured a Blog about the University of Central Florida (UCF) cheating scandal, whereby a professor accused students of cheating on the midterm exam.  Since that time, UCF and many other institutions have gone high tech to fight cheating, and the use of online plagiarism detection services (such as have become commonplace. 

A not-so-new cheating buzzword caught my attention this year:  “contract cheating.”  I have long been aware of professional services that provide written work for a fee, but I was not aware how much attention this topic has garnered or how much the practice has grown among college students

I agree the companies that provide this service have become more conspicuous, and students may have become more jaded to the seriousness of this offence.  In an NPR news story about students cheating their way through college, I was struck by one student who didn’t consider it “cheating” if she paid someone to write “original” work.

“They don’t plagiarize,” she said, “…they write everything on their own.”

As much as professors would like to think this topic is black-and-white, it is not.  There are many different positions you could take.  Some cast blame on educators and even our parents.  There also are many ethical approaches you could take to explore the reasoning that leads to cheating, including utilitarianism, virtue ethics, even social contract theory and many more. 

The International Center for Academic Integrity sponsors an International Day of Action against contract cheating (coming October 16).

I look forward to engaging this year’s class on the topic and to hearing your views and perspectives.

[Click below to leave a comment.]

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Guns Instead of Roses

Guns have been an extremely controversial topic lately, with people having very strong opinions on both sides. When the 16-year-old couple Jamie Pereira and Tito Velez posted a homecoming picture, they stirred up a lot of trouble because they were both holding guns. Although the guns were Airsoft riffles, which only shoot plastic pellets, the two students were suspended from school and even facing possible explosion.


Superintendent Richard Gross, of Bristol Plymouth Vo-tech, Massachusetts, found the picture to be over the top to bring into a school event. Even though the students took the picture at their home and did not bring the guns to school, they titled the picture “Homecoming 2014,” which frightened many people.

The students understand why it caused problems but do not believe they deserved to be suspended. Pereira and Velez had to get an attorney in order to get back in school and raised more than enough money from those who disagreed with their punishment.

Was it ethically wrong for Pereira and Velez to post this picture on facebook? Should the students have to face suspension and possible explosion?

Gun safety and school shootings have been such a big topic these days that posting a picture like that will no doubt cause many to be worried and there should an action taken to keep society feeling safe. Although the couple meant no harm, it is best for their classmates, teachers, and families included to feel protected at school.

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Is TMZ good or bad journalism?

TMZ is a well-known celebrity news website where you can get your latest gossip on celebrities, Hollywood rumors and entertainment news.  They have a TV show that shows videos of journalists interviewing celebrities as well as talk about specific things going on that they have discovered in Hollywood.  They also post to social media about news they have recently discovered.

TMZ journalism is questionable because they don’t really have boundaries.  When Harvey Levin, founder of celebrity news website, was questioned on if they have a specific “code of ethics” to avoid international news situations his response was jokingly “oh yeah we would never do anything like that.”  They seem to always post the latest celebrity gossip, but sometimes it can being going too far and even be false.

TMZ sports is responsible for leaking the Ray Rice video of him beating his wife in the elevator.  The question is asked, was this appropriate to show to the public?  Now, that the NFL has seen the video they are taking action, so was this video a good thing to show? This may be true. TMZ also was responsible for leaking Stephen Collin’s confession to being involved with a 10-year-old.  Again, the question is asked, “Is this appropriate to show to the public?”  Once this video was leaked, the popular 7th Heaven TV show that starred Collins no longer aired.  If this recording wasn’t leaked, would people like 7th Heaven still be taking action and cancelling the show?  Probably not. This goes into consequential ethics.  If the recording or video is shown to the public, is it creating more good or evil?  Yes, it may be a little inappropriate but if it’s going to get people to not support them and get higher people to take action then maybe it’s worth it.  Looking at both cases, I believe it has done more good than evil by punishing both stars.

However, TMZ has been known for having false accusations.  For example, they reported that Miley Cyrus died in a car accident in 2008 with no proof and later was removed from the website.  They also reported that Lil Wayne was in critical condtion and was being read his rights after suffering from a seizure.  TMZ reported that Lil Wayne was seconds away from dying.  This again was completely false and was later removed.  This leads to the question, yes TMZ is reporting everythign they hear the second they hear it, but shouldn’t they get their facts straight first?  Instead of being the first to post the news story, shouldn’t they make sure it’s actually true? Can we even rely on TMZ?

The media has mixed feelings of TMZ as well as the public.  If you ask someone like Evan Rosenblum who has worked with Harvey and TMZ how he feels about it, he will tell you TMZ is amazing.  The Daily Beast wrote an article saying that Rosenblum felt that Harvey is the best investigative journalist in the country and has broke amazing stories that the public needs to know.  Another media outlet that spoke about TMZ didn’t seem to agree with this statement.  The Chicago Now said that TMZ brings only negative press coverage for any person or company and they are looking to insult the topic at hand.  For example, TMZ respectfully reported the Tito and Jenna Jameson allegation, but after it was over continued to bash the couple.

Does TMZ do more harm than good? The question remains, but you can still ask yourself if the recording of Stephen Collins and Video of Ray Rice was never obtained and showed b TMZ, then would they still have jobs?  Probably.

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Toys ‘R Us Reverses Course Of Action

The well-known children’s store across the nation, Toys ‘R Us, is receiving huge backlash after releasing a line of Breaking Bad inspired action figures.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 6.07.33 PM

Of course we know that there are many action figures on the shelves carry swords, spears, and guns. But a Florida mother is insisting that these meth-dealing dolls go a step too far.

The school-teacher-turned-meth-dealer Walter White doll comes with a pistol as well as a duffle bag full of cash and a plastic bag of blue crystals. His sidekick, Jesse Pinkman, comes with a gas mask and a tray of meth crystals.

Sarah Scrivjer, of Fort Myers, is urging the toy store to remove the toys from their shelves, stating, “While the show may be compelling viewing for adults, its violent content and celebration of the drug trade make this collection unsuitable to be sold alongside Barbie dolls and Disney characters.” The petition she started on had received 2,500 signatures as of October 20th.

In a statement to The Washington Post, a Toy ‘R Us spokesperson said, “We carry a variety of fictional character action figures, including those for our collector customers. The products are carried in very limited quantities in the adult action figure area of our stores.”

Two days after their initial statement, Toys ‘R Us had to reverse course after Schrivjer’s petition reached 9,300 signatures. “Let’s just say, the action figures have taken an indefinite sabbatical,” Toys R Us said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.

Not everyone has agreed with Schrivjer’s petition, so much so that a man, Daniel Pickett, started a counter petition calling for the retailer to keep the toys on the shelves.

Many people have spoken out about this topic; making it clear which side they stand on. Actor Bryan Cranston, who played Walter White in the series, has taken to Twitter to discuss his frustration with this matter.

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There are clearly two sides to this argument. Should Toys ‘R Us have removed the toys sooner? Was their initial response too nonchalant? Or should they have stood their ground and kept the toys on their shelves?

Posted in Public Relations | 3 Comments

Morally Offensive Content


I found this picture on Instagram under the account of @insta_comedy. The purpose of this account is to make jokes about the pictures portrayed. The post is caption “LMAOO CHILL” with emoticons. The picture is in reference of the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal.


It was targeted to the vast audience that uses social media. Instagram reaches 150 million people of different ages but mostly 18 to 35 year olds. 90% of them are under 35% making them a youthful demographic mainly made up of women.


The joke includes Halloween, Ray Rice and the doll, eluding his wife. It is very disrespectful towards woman and men. The fact that they take domestic violence so lightly and make fun of it is disrespectful and offensive.


This goes to show that some people have no respect or consideration towards victims. Pictures like this set a standard that serious issues can be turned into jokes once the scandal is over, the comments on the picture promotes laughter and thoughtlessness.


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Are there Ethics in Death?

Brittany Maynard was a 29 year old newly wed who thought she had the whole world ahead of her. A little while after her marriage, Brittany was diagnosed with a deadly brain tumor.

Brittany Maynard was like any other young newly wed. She was vivacious and full of character; excited to start a new chapter in her life. Unfortunately for Brittany this was one chapter that wouldn’t have an end. Being diagnosed with a deadly tumor, she was only given a short time to live. Being the proud person Brittany was, she wanted to die on her own terms. She decided to seek medical help in her own suicide. With all of the news coverage on her, she is receiving a lot of criticism, as well as support. Unfortunately the family is not receiving any privacy in the matter.

The Media has been covering this topic since it came out a little over a month ago. With all of the coverage she is firing up much debate on assisted suicide, and if its the right thing to do. She has received messages from current patients with the same problem telling her to stay alive and hold on as long as she can, but she is set on ending her life on her own terms. This is drawing attention away from the fact that this woman is deathly ill, and focus more on the issue surrounding Brittany. This should be a time for her to spend with her family; not for interviews and tv time.

Brittany made the decision to overdose on barbiturates that she received from a doctor in Oregon. Laws in Oregon allow doctors to supply terminally ill patients with medicine that will give them a “way out.” Brittany Maynard started the group “Death With Dignity” that supported people with terminally ill diseases to die on their own terms. She believed if someone was going to die, and knew of it; that they should choose when they do so. On November 1, 2014,  Brittany Maynard died due to an overdose. She died with no regrets in a house she loved, which is located in the city of Portland, OR, surrounded by the people she loved.

When it comes to assisted suicide, or just death in general; do you think there are certain ethics that need to be involved? Is it a selfish act that she decided when she wanted to die, or should her family have had a say in it?  Do you think something like this should be allowed in all states for people who know they will die? Finally, do you think that something this personal should be displayed on the news, even if it is warranted by the subject? Click here for information on Brittany Maynard’s Death


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