Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Be ruthless in croquet, not in the classroom

Be ruthless in croquet, not in the classroom

Last Thursday a Southern friend of mine asked me a peculiar question, “Have you ever played croquet?” I looked at him skeptically — of course I hadn’t. I’ve also never tasted a mint julep or learned much about tobacco sharecropping either.

Prior to my first game I knew nothing about croquet beyond a vague notion that it was a blue-blood sport played predominantly by a successful, mostly Southern, upper class.

For those of you who have never played, croquet is more than a game — it’s cutthroat capitalism at its finest. Although the object of the game is to be the first one to get your ball through all the wickets, the catch is that if you hit somebody else’s ball, you have the ability to knock it as far as possible — off the playing field, past the parking lot, into the lake, if possible.

When my friend first pulled this maneuver, I thought he was cheating. But apparently it’s just part of the game. As is often the case in the business world, there is only one winner and you need to take every measure to ensure that the winner is yourself.

It’s no wonder that successful, wealthy people gravitate to a game like this. There is a definite parallel between the cutthroat, “keep everybody down but myself” attitude necessary for croquet and the same ruthlessness that’s breeds success in business.

The path leading to success rarely mirrors the path leading to moral rectitude. As most Fortune 500 CEOs will attest, questionable behavior easily can be justified if it’s intrinsic to one’s own prosperity.

So it’s not all that surprising that, according to an article published Friday by The Daily, cheating is becoming increasingly prevalent at NU.

People’s own moral codes are never fixed. Questionable behavior can be justified in numerous situations. Someone who would never plagiarize an essay because he’s an English major may easily justify cheating on a biology test if he feels he was unfairly forced to take the class.

The bottom line is that although cheating is wrong, there are cases where people will be more likely to cheat and less likely to cheat. No one has a truly absolute conception of right and wrong and while people may never believe what they are doing is morally correct, in certain situations they may think it’s okay enough to do.

In order to stop cheating entirely the NU administration should consider employing an honor system like the one in place at Princeton University.

Under such a system, students take unproctored exams but are forced to report any academic dishonesty — failure to do so results in a break of the honor code just like the person doing the cheating.

The system forces students — by fear of big brother — to forget any justification they may have for cheating. The price and potential for getting caught are just too high.

Students sometimes unfortunately think that like the business world (or croquet, for that matter) a small amount of morally questionable behavior is necessary to achieve success. Maybe they should be forced to think otherwise.

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Be ruthless in croquet, not in the classroom