As College Students, we all know how difficult classes can be and how busy life gets throughout a semester. Sometimes it seems that much of this stress would disappear if only the answers to that “problem set” you have spent five hours on only to answer the first question were just somehow in your reach. We all know the temptation to resort to Google or other unauthorized aids when we are stuck on a tough assignment. However, as students at the University of Maryland, it is imperative that we hold ourselves to the highest standards. A critical part of this process is The University Student Judiciary (USJ), and being a body of students, we are writing to remind you that when it comes to cheating, it is not worth it.

USJ is a body of approximately 100 students from a variety of colleges and majors across campus. As members of USJ, we have the goal of promoting integrity, character, and ethics in all aspects of University life. We work in five branches, to assure that students accused of violating the university’s Code of Academic Integrity and Code of Student Conduct receive the fair hearing to which they are entitled. In a hearing, both the university and the student are allotted time to tell their side of the story. It is then board members — composed of students from USJ — not administration — that vote to determine whether the individual is responsible or not and suggest an appropriate sanction.

We are writing to emphasize that our goal is to reduce instances of academic dishonesty and Code of Student Conduct violations, which not only improves the environment on campus but improves UMD’s status as a provider of higher education. Academic dishonesty erodes the value of our degrees and reduces the integrity of every academic program on campus. With an abundance of resources no matter what the subject students are studying, students can make sure they have correctly cited at the Writing Center, visit Math success to understand how to solve problems with university approved assistance, and many more.

This reminder to understand the university’s policies is of growing necessity, as referrals of academic dishonesty to the Office of Student Conduct increased by 44% last year. Most students sign our 15-year old Honor Pledge on every major assignment or exam they take at the university, but we urge students to understand the true meaning of the pledge and to live up to the commitment.

As young adults preparing for professional careers it is important that we lay a foundation of integrity in our daily lives. Don’t be a Melania Trump and plagiarize a speech, don’t be Lance Armstrong and cheat on tests. Although these are extreme examples, as Terps we should be role models and that starts by coming to the simple realization; when it comes to cheating #itsnotworthit.

As a part of our outreach effort, USJ launched Anonymous Ask where UMD students pose questions to Office of Student Conduct Staff concerning academic integrity, student conduct, and the disciplinary process on campus. We encourage you to ask a question or check out USJ’s Facebook page or the Office of Student Conduct’s website to see past Q&As.

We will also hold the 2nd Academic Integrity Week on March 6–10th. During this week, students and faculty can engage with each other on the importance of academic integrity and why it affects all of us.

For more information on how to get educated on academic integrity, make sure to follow us on Twitter (@UMDUSJ) and be on the lookout for our events on campus this semester.