Dr. Anthony Koeninger, professor of history at Cuesta College, has an enthusiasm for life, humanity, his teaching subject, and his cats that fills a room in the best possible way. His laughter and good nature is infectious, and his honesty about his faith and sexual orientation make for a very comforting, safe environment.
I was flattered to learn, when I approached him, that he reads this column regularly, but my heart sank when he mentioned that he always secretly hoped he’d make it into one—after all, I know he would have wanted it for much happier reasons than these. The fact of the matter is that the largest cheating scandal in the history of Cuesta College has been unearthed, and his were the students responsible. Dr. K noticed when this semester began that there were students showing up for class without the course materials, writing few if any notes, and as the days passed, the work ethic of those particular students didn’t seem to increase. To his surprise, however, these same students proceeded to get near-perfect scores on the first quiz. And then the second, and the third.
Dr. Koeninger believes in the best in people, but he was finally unable to deny that there was something seriously wrong. When the first midterm approached, he secretly switched up the order of its questions and answers, keeping record of what the answers had been before. When the results came in, sure enough, a massive number of students received terrible scores on it—but perfect scores on what the test had been before.
Fifty-seven students had been cheating on their exams. Fifty-seven of them. That is, in my professional, journalistic opinion, insulting. Throughout this entire semester, the meat of Dr. K’s history lectures have documented the tragedies of some group of people cheating another group of people out of something, be it their land or even their lives. We study the past for a better understanding on how not to treat our fellow man. I should think the irony would be brutally obvious! Koeninger, heartbroken, has described himself as naive for not having created new tests in a while. He wanted to believe this wouldn’t happen.
“As teachers,” he said, “we teach to teach subjects, but that goes beyond, what we’re trying to do is teach life lessons. This is an important lesson for all teachers: be vigilant.” There is still a very real possibility that these students may be suspended for a length of time. They are all receiving zeros on the exams they cheated on. He asked when explaining the situation to each of his classes than anyone responsible email him with confessions and maybe even apologies, to help with the healing process. After all, he already knew who they were.
“I have received beautiful apologies from students, which I believe contain real sorrow,” he went on. “I can’t know for sure, only God can know that.”
Contributor Chris White-Sanborn looks forward to Dr. Koeninger’s next lecture. Send collegiate news to firstname.lastname@example.org.