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Grace Ranft-Garcia

Grace Ranft-Garcia | Students of Higher Ed

My name is Grace Ranft-Garcia. I'm studying manufacturing and mechanical engineering technologies as well as getting a safety engineering certificate at Texas A&M University.

I think academic integrity is about growth, really. I say that because I think that we generally, as students, are in a culture that that can create circumstances where people might feel like cheating is okay. I think that a lot of students do cheat even if they don't think that they are. So, if you are Chegging a homework question—okay, well that's cheating.

And a lot of students don't realize that. So, when they think about cheating, they think, “Oh, I would never cheat on an exam. Oh, I would never cheat on this big project. I would never cheat on a final exam,” because those things—in their minds—are the things that are high-risk and high-reward, and that is cheating.

[stephen_gow_pro_picturesqurae:MEDIASTORE_LEAF]@4200aee3
But I think the goal of academic integrity, the goal of the Honor System Office, and my goal is to teach students, my peers, and my friends, that academic integrity is more than just not cheating on an exam. It's actually taking personal responsibility for yourself. You are an adult. You are a college student, and you have to take the responsibility for your education.
Grace Ranft-Garcia
Student, Texas A&M University
University of York, UK

I tell a lot of students that I see on Honor Council—the only person that will ever fight for you is you, reliably. You are the only person who will ever know that you need help. Your professors will help you if you ask them. The university will help you if you ask them, but the university, your professors and your teachers are not mind readers. If you will not fight for yourself, then nobody else will. At a certain point, you are the only one that can reliably do that, and you are the only one who will always know when you need help. I think that's a really big part of academic integrity is being willing to say, “Hey, I need help.” Or, “I don't know enough,” or “I think I've taken on too much on my plate, and I really need this off of it,” and just being able to acknowledge that you are not a one-man band. I think that that is incredibly important.

So, I actually went through the process first as somebody who had been accused of cheating and I had worked too closely with somebody on a computer science homework the first semester of my sophomore year. I ended up getting an F-star in the course and then later went through what we call at A&M the Academic Integrity Development Program (AIDP).

At A&M, an F-star means that you failed due to academic misconduct. There's also the option to get the star removed. In order to do that, you need to complete the AIDP. So that is really helpful in terms of motivating people to grow, and to have the option of getting this removed.

It was really hard for me, because for a long time, I very much associated my grades, and my transcript with my self-worth, and so to be confronted with the fact that I did get an F-star was really difficult for me. Not knowing how to explain that to people who are applying for jobs, or what if I decide to go to grad school.

[stephen_gow_pro_picturesqurae:MEDIASTORE_LEAF]@436e3688
Now I really see it as not necessarily a talking point, but as kind of a learning experience. And I very strongly believe that if a company were to look at my transcript and not care that there was this perspective of growth then they are probably not the best fit for me.
Grace Ranft-Garcia
Student, Texas A&M University
University of York, UK

I joined our Honor Council my junior year. I maintained a really good relationship with the Director of the Honor System Office at A&M—Dr. Tim Powers—and just ended up really reflecting on what I had done wrong, because obviously I had done something wrong. I ended up really wanting to advocate for students in a way that I think a lot of our Honor Council members really can't because they haven't been through that process. I really wanted to be able to give a perspective of somebody who not only understood that it is quite possible to cheat and to make that misstep, but also as somebody who understands that it's possible to regrow that integrity.

Obviously that doesn't mean that I don't find them responsible. It just means, from my perspective, I can really empathize with students and understand that there are things like bad study habits or feeling like you have to get the A because that's what defines you is the grade. So being able to really have that discourse with students who are going through the process.

[stephen_gow_pro_picturesqurae:MEDIASTORE_LEAF]@7dc37060
They don't always understand that I have sat where they sat, but that level of empathy, I think, is really helpful for creating a space where students can reflect on what they do next.
Grace Ranft-Garcia
Student, Texas A&M University
University of York, UK

I think the process itself is very geared towards growth and the reason why I say that is because for the first offense, the typical sanction through the Honor Council process is an F-star. It's not expulsion from the University. It's not separation from the University. It's an F-star. And the reason why that is is because we really want students to engage in the process in a way in which facilitates growth. For me, in the moment, I felt like I was being hit by firing squad—I wasn't. Having been given that opportunity to grow, when I know a lot of people who attend other universities, that would not have been given that opportunity had they been in my position—not that those universities are bad—I think that I've really come to really appreciate that about the Honor Council process. It's why I wanted to serve on our council.

[stephen_gow_pro_picturesqurae:MEDIASTORE_LEAF]@54e9ceca
After I went through the Honor Council process and did an appeal and everything, I was really able to understand that—even while it’s an unpleasant process, and it’s not supposed to be pleasant—it was still a process created to teach me. I think that is an incredibly valuable tool to have at a university.
Grace Ranft-Garcia
Student, Texas A&M University
University of York, UK
[grace_ranft_garcia:MEDIASTORE_LEAF]@730efac2
Grace Ranft-Garcia
Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology Student
Texas A&M University