Click here to go to the Home Page
Click to send us your comments and suggestions.
Click to learn about the publishers of BlackCommentator.com and our mission.
Click to search for any word or phrase on our Website.
Click to sign up for an e-Mail notification only whenever we publish something new.
Click to remove your e-Mail address from our list immediately and permanently.
Click to read our pledge to never give or sell your e-Mail address to anyone.
Click to read our policy on re-prints and permissions.
Click for the demographics of the BlackCommentator.com audience and our rates.
Click to view the patrons list and learn now to become a patron and support BlackCommentator.com.
Click to see job postings or post a job.
Click for links to Websites we recommend.
Click to see every cartoon we have published.
Click to read any past issue.
Click to read any think piece we have published.
Click to read any guest commentary we have published.
Click to view any of the art forms we have published.
Comment and read the comments of others at Readers' Corner
Road Scholar - the world leader in educational travel for adults. Top ten travel destinations for African-Americans. Fascinating history, welcoming locals, astounding sights, hidden gems, mouth-watering food or all of the above - our list of the world’s top ten "must-see" learning destinations for African-Americans has a little something for everyone.

Cheating Harvard - Inclusion - By The Reverend Irene Monroe - BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board

 
 
 
 

Adam Wheeler defrauded Harvard out of thousands of dollars: $31,000 in financial aid, $8,000 in a research grant, and $6,000 in English prizes. Many applaud his feat while others are appalled by his nerve. Had his hubris not gotten the best of him - vying for the prestigious Fulbright and Rhodes scholarships - Wheeler would had walked away this June with a Harvard degree.

As Wheeler’s “web of lies” begin to untangle here in Middlesex District Court, and that could result in him doing some jail time, as parents we all must ask ourselves what went wrong.

What messages - both verbally and subliminally - are we telling our children about personal excellence?

Clearly we can say Wheeler tried to cheat his way through Harvard, but have we - as a culture and parents - not cheated children like Wheeler by over emphasizing the need for them to be number one?

Failure, a much-tabooed subject on college campuses, is not talked about much, especially in such a place as Harvard. But in competitive milieus like Harvard, the fear of failure is the specter that haunts most students.

When only the grade of A for some students is their only measure of success, some will cheat my any means necessary.

Many students will fail somewhere along their academic journey, but it will have nothing to do with the grade they received. It’s about the culture they reside in.

We live in a society that is hypercritical of failure and super exuberant about success. As a culture, we have developed a false and damaging dichotomy about the relationship between failure and success that success has become a public affair of celebration and failure a private funeral of condemnation.

We think of failure as a hindrance to human achievement and to professional and academic excellence.

For example, in watching the 1996 Olympics, which were held in Atlanta, Georgia, I was appalled by one of its slogans that represented not only the spirit of the Olympic Games but also the ethos in our sports culture.

On billboards throughout Atlanta, in television commercials and in many sports magazines like “Sports Illustrated” the message was loud and clear about what constituted athletic excellence.

It said: “When you come in second place, you don’t win the silver, you lose the gold.”

Clearly what this slogan is saying is if you are not number one you are a failure. Success is only if you make it to the top, and only one can be there.

Such a message, however, ignores the success in training and disciplining one’s mind and body to compete. It ignores the success of competing at a world-class level. And it undermines the importance of camaraderie, the celebration of people worldwide joined by a common goal and interest, and most importantly it undermines the human spirit.

This example, of course, is not one particular to sports. Instead it’s representative of a paradigm that’s pervasive and emblematic in every arena of American life. Success is understood, predicated and maintained in a highly competitive system that is organized around and values money and power above personal integrity.

Not to compete in this system constitutes failure on your part. Not to win in this system constitutes failure on your part. And not to honor this system also constitutes failure on your part.

In an academic culture where the objective is to be number one, by any means necessary, the purpose of obtaining education is lost. And often times, the purpose also is trumped by the desire to get credentials.

Research studies by the Rutgers University Management Education Center and the University of Santa Clara Center for Academic Integrity reported that 70 to 90 percent of college students cheat. But the most disturbing information gleaned from these studies is that many students embrace cheating as an acceptable practice because “everybody does it.”

Just how far are we willing to go to be successful?

Some argue that Wheeler played the “game of success” successfully; he fraudulently claimed to be fluent in four languages, received a perfect SAT score of 1600, received perfect grades his first year at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and coauthored several books.

Others argue that Wheeler undermined the integrity of competition.

In a culture that demands we be number one in all aspects of our lives, I think Wheeler’s criminal behavior is an indictment about our culture.

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, the Rev. Irene Monroe, is a religion columnist, theologian, and public speaker. She is the Coordinator of the African-American Roundtable of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at the Pacific School of Religion. A native of Brooklyn, Rev. Monroe is a graduate from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church before coming to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as a Ford Fellow. She was recently named to MSNBC’s list of 10 Black Women You Should Know. Reverend Monroe is the author of Let Your Light Shine Like a Rainbow Always: Meditations on Bible Prayers for Not’So’Everyday Moments. As an African-American feminist theologian, she speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Her website is irenemonroe.com. Click here to contact the Rev. Monroe.

 
 
 

Click here for facebook - Click here for twitter

 
 

If you would like to comment on this article, please do so below. There is a 400 character limit. You do not need a FaceBook account. Your comment will be posted here on BC instantly. Thanks.

Entering your email address is not mandatory. You may also choose to enter only your first name and your location.

 

e-Mail re-print notice
If you send us an emaill message we may publish all or part of it, unless you tell us it is not for publication. You may also request that we withhold your name.

Thank you very much for your readership.

Any BlackCommentator.com article may be re-printed so long as it is re-printed in its entirety and full credit given to the author and www.BlackCommentator.com. If the re-print is on the Internet we additionally request a link back to the original piece on our Website.

 

May 20, 2010
Issue 376

is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield
Publisher:
Peter Gamble
Est. April 5, 2002
Printer Friendly Version in resizeable plain text format
Comment and read the comments of others at Readers' Corner
click here to buy & benefit BC