In a world where hard work and rational thinking are conflated with “whiteness,” it makes sense that prohibitions on cheating would be characterized as systemically racist. That’s precisely the “anti-racist” hill one Princeton University sophomore chose to proverbially die upon.
In an article for Princeton’s college newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, sophomore Emilly Santos argues that “American systems of legal administration enact violence against minority populations,” which includes the criminal justice system. “Princeton’s Honor Code, tasked with holding students accountable and honest in academic settings, mirrors the criminal justice system in its rules and effects.”
Santos then outlines that the disciplinary actions imposed — such as suspension, withholding of financial aid, a record on your transcript, or even expulsion — on students who violate the honor code affect minority or “first-generation low-income (FLI) students” the most, whom she argues are unprepared at navigating such a system in the first place. As such, Santos recommends that “the University should lead by example by dismantling the Honor Code system, which acts as a barrier to social mobility and a more equitable society.”
That prohibitions on cheating and plagiarizing are now conflated with systemic racism shows how effectively propagandized the nation’s allegedly best and brightest — at Ivy League schools, no less — have become. That Santos seriously recommends dismantling the honor code solely for racial “equity” implies she believes low-income minority students must cheat or plagiarize to excel academically at Princeton. In other words, Santos is engaging in the soft bigotry of low expectations at the expense of her college classmates.
While low-income and minority students should be given the resources and help they need to excel academically, a free pass to cheat is not one of them. Santos insults her peers’ intelligence by assuming removing academic standards will help them succeed. Ironically, in the name of racial equity, Santos is peddling a new form of pernicious racism adopted by the left.
Besides, Princeton’s honor code is not to blame for the problems Santos highlights. The real culprit is affirmative action.
Many students granted admittance to the nation’s elite colleges solely or partly on the basis of their skin color are woefully unprepared for the academic environment at those schools. As such, many drop out or fail their classes.
For example, according to the Heritage Foundation, one study found that among the top law schools in the country, more than 50 percent of black law students were in the bottom 10 percent of their class. The dropout rate for Black law students was also more than twice that of their white counterparts (19.3 percent vs. 8.2 percent).
Another study found that after California banned race-based admissions for public colleges, there was a 4.4-percentage-point increase in the graduation rates of minority students, which can be attributed to students selecting colleges that were a better academic fit.
What Santos needs to realize is that until colleges base their admissions on merit instead of race, students will repeatedly enroll in schools they are ill-suited for — and no amount of free passes for cheating will make up for that.
Victoria Marshall is a staff writer at The Federalist. Her writing has been featured in the New York Post, National Review, and Townhall. She graduated from Hillsdale College in May 2021 with a major in politics and a minor in journalism. Follow her on Twitter @vemrshll.