LSU Student, Social Media Celeb Directs Her 7+ Million Followers to AI Cheating Site, University Responds
Plus, faculty at Northwestern discuss ChatGPT. Plus, numbers and notes from the University of Manitoba.
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LSU Student, TikTok Celebrity Promotes AI Cheating Site to Her 7+ Million Followers
Multiple news outlets covered this from a week ago, when Louisiana State University student and gymnast and social media maven Olivia Dunne used her TikTok to post a video that promoted an AI-powered essay writing service. Dunne has 7.2 million followers.
Dunne, it’s reported, promoted the AI “homework help” site caktus.ai and that:
Caktus.ai's official site says it's "the first ever educational artificial intelligence tool" and boasts about its ability to "create polished essays with AI assistance for enhanced understanding."
In her post, Dunne wrote, in part:
@caktus.ai will provide real resources for you to cite at the end of your essays and paragraphs;)
Need to get my creativity flowing for my essay due at midnight
Dunne’s post for the cheating site was seen by more than one million people and recorded more than 40,000 “likes,” according to the reporting.
Three days later, LSU issued a public response which included:
"At LSU, our professors and students are empowered to use technology for learning and pursuing the highest standards of academic integrity," LSU said. "However, using AI to produce work that a student then represents as one’s own could result in a charge of academic misconduct, as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct."
I’m glad that LSU responded.
But you’ll excuse my skepticism that what the school says will make much difference, especially if it does nothing. Surely LSU has many ways to get the attention of a current student athlete who’s likely enrolled, probably on a scholarship and literally wears their uniform. They could do more than talk about “the highest standards of academic integrity.” The school could actually demonstrate what having high standards means.
Anyone want to place a wager?
And though this incident with Dunne and LSU received the most attention, it’s not the first example of cheating companies using the influence of student athletes to promote their illicit services. Quizlet enlisted a gymnast from UCLA to hawk the site (see Issue 123). At the time, UCLA did not comment (see Issue 124) or, as far as I can tell, do anything else.
Chegg too has used “student athlete brand ambassador”(s) for marketing. They signed up Paige Bueckers of the University of Connecticut. She was the 2021 National Player of the Year in NCAA Women’s Basketball (see Issue 111). Bueckers hyped Chegg on social media, smiling in Chegg gear. UConn - again, as far as I know - did nothing.
I try diligently to not blame schools or teachers for student misconduct. But these multi-million dollar cheating companies are making a mockery of the words so many of them are so eager to say. Words such as “highest standards” and “paramount importance” become laughable at some point. When a school’s most visible students can openly sell cheating without consequence, we’re
probably well past it.
Faculty at Northwestern University Chat about GPT
A brief blurb in the student paper at Northwestern University covers a meeting of the faculty senate, which the report says discussed AI and cheating.
English Prof. Barbara Newman, who sits on the Educational Affairs Committee, said the group briefly discussed generative AI technology at its recent meeting but did not come to a consensus on how to best address academic integrity concerns. However, Newman said she would be willing to make a “passionate speech” at the committee’s next meeting to advocate for robust countermeasures against potential academic dishonesty.
“We all ought to make our students sign honor pledges not to use (generative AI technology that) will persuade them to rely on artificial intelligence until their natural intelligence withers away entirely,” Newman said.
Robust countermeasures? I give you honor pledges. My goodness.
Insights, Numbers from University of Manitoba
The student paper at the University of Manitoba ran a piece recently on the sharp jump in misconduct cases.
We’d touched on the numbers from Manitoba before - all the way back in 2021, in Issue 6. But this new article has an update:
There has been a significant rise in cases of academic misconduct at the U of M since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent report published by the University Discipline Committee (UDC) the 2021-22 academic year saw a continuation of those high case numbers.
There were 1,127 incidents of academic misconduct from Sept. 1, 2021 to Aug. 31, 2022, a sizeable increase from the 626 reported incidents just five years ago in the 2017-18 academic year. Most of last year’s cases consisted of inappropriate collaboration, plagiarism and cheating.
A school administrator added, wisely:
that it should not be assumed that academic dishonesty will decrease now
that students are back on campus
But I’m sharing this Manitoba story mostly for the comments of Arthur Schafer, professor of philosophy and founding director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at University of Manitoba. In the article, he says it’s the “main job” of the university:
to protect academic integrity and dissuade students from academic misconduct by making “the likelihood of detection high enough and the rewards from cheating low enough” that students are not incentivized to cheat.
The reason for the rise in misconduct cases, [Schafer] said, could come down to simple human psychology.
“When you increase the opportunities to cheat and decrease the likelihood that the cheating will be discovered, it’s to be expected that there will be more cheating,” he said.
I don’t know what more there is to say.