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Opinions

Volume 65 Number 4

Adderall? More like BADerall!

by Madeline Bogert and Jake Goldstein - 2015-02-19

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Around midterms and finals, Honor Council members frequently say something of this nature: “We know that this can be a really stressful time of year, and we urge you to really think about your actions and be careful not to violate the Honor Code.”

What most people think about when hearing this message, however, may not necessarily reflect a complete definition of the Honor Code. The more typical concept of academic dishonesty, which often entails plagiarism or looking at another person’s test answers, should be expanded to include the use of unprescribed substances to boost one’s academic performance.

Take, for example, the AP Physics final. The majority of the students in our class period took the entire two hours to finish the exam. Focusing for two hours on a difficult exam requires focus and stamina. If you’re feeling tired by the end, maybe you won’t check over your entire exam, which could cause you to potentially lose a few points.

But say your friend took an amphetamine the night before that he or she had bought illegally. Your friend was able to stay awake for longer than you could to study and didn’t feel the need to take the same amount of study breaks that you took. If your friend also took this amphetamine during the test, he could focus better on the exam and more carefully check over his work. You wind up with a grade of B; he winds up with an A.

Now, imagine that you’re up late at night finishing a 10-page paper that you and most of your classmates have put off for a while. You’ve spent all weekend--from when you got home on Friday to right now, Monday at 2 in the morning--working on this essay, and as you finally finish your last paragraph, you can hardly keep your eyes open any longer even though your stomach hurts from how much caffeine you’ve consumed. You--in an act unthinkable to most rationally thinking students--half-ass your conclusion and lazily gloss over what you’ve written in a pathetic attempt at proofreading. One of your classmates, however, who also procrastinated on this essay, decided to take Adderall on Sunday morning because he had gone out to a party the night before instead of working as hard as you had.

Because the medication made your friend more able to focus so intensely on his work, he ended up staying up later than you and was able to write a more polished paper with the greatest expansion point in the history of mankind. After your teacher returns the essays, you learn that, again, you earn a B while your friend unfairly receives an A.

When students sign the Honor Pledge on their assessments, they affirm that they “have neither given nor received unauthorized help on [their] assignment.” The unprescribed use of Adderall (or other types of amphetamines) as an unneeded attention enhancer represents unauthorized help on academic work. Plenty of students, ourselves absolutely included, use caffeine to bolster their attention and help them stay awake and focused.

The consumption of caffeine, though, unlike that of drugs such as Adderall, does not grant an unauthorized, unfair advantage to students because any high schooler can easily buy a cup of coffee from the nearest Starbucks. On the other hand, students who do not have ADD, ADHD or a similar condition cannot legally obtain these medications, so using them is unauthorized.

Although the illegal use of amphetamines is not as easy for the school to prosecute as evidence of a student taking photos of a test may be, its use must still be considered a violation of the Honor Code. Students using amphetamines to improve academic performance should not have their behavior implicitly condoned by the Honor Council. Honest, law-abiding students should not have to compete with chemically advantaged students who are essentially supported by the administration. The school cannot fix every problem related to chemical advantages and disadvantages as they are related to academic performance, but it can at least begin by sending a message against the illegal use of these substances.


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Article Keywords:

honor, academic, took, exam, friend, amphetamine, unauthorized, student


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