Dear Auntie Sparknotes,
I have a problem (duh). There's this boy in my French class I saw cheating with his iPhone. He saw me see him cheat. Now he sits near me all the time because he thinks I'm an enabler, since he hasn't been ratted out yet.
I told my dad, and he talked to the principal, who talked to my French teacher. She hasn't done anything, though, and it's already been a few months. It's pretty obvious that he cheats if you pay attention to him; he sits in the back corner of the room and tilts his desk up so you can't see what he's doing behind it. Also, most of the other kids in my class know that he cheats. But my teacher doesn't pay any attention to us when we take tests!
What should I do now, Auntie? Should I tell my French teacher to confiscate all of our phones before tests? But he'll probably know that it's me behind it if I do that. His cheating is kind of a big deal, because he's ranked #4 in our class. If I rat him out, it'll look like I'm trying to eliminate the competition (I'm in the top 5, too). But it isn't fair that he's ranked that high if he cheated to get there! What if he applies to the same colleges as some of the other kids do and gets in instead of them? Or, selfish as this sounds, what if he gets into my dream school and I don't? Please help me! This has been driving me crazy!
Um... yes! It certainly has! Because while yes, it’s frustrating to see someone flouting the rules and getting away with it, and yes, your school shouldn’t be tolerating the ongoing nonsense of a known cheater, your level of fixation on this dude’s bad behavior—to the point where you’re seeing it as a direct threat to your own chances of being accepted to college—is what the French would call la folie.
So before you do anything else, please: LE CHILLAX. Okay? Take several deep breaths, drink a cold beverage, and do yourself the favor of accepting that success sometimes comes to those who seek it through nefarious means. Haters gonna hate, cheaters gonna cheat, and slick bastards with cash, connections, or loose morals gonna get ahead based on things besides pure merit.
And that’s not fair, but hey, life sometimes isn’t. And if you start keeping tabs on all the small injustices you face at the hands of an indifferent universe or apathetic authority figures, the only thing you’ll succeed in doing is driving yourself stark raving bugnuts crazy.
And that's especially true when the power to right the wrong isn’t even in your hands. In this case, the best option you had was to make the teacher aware of what’s going on—and she is, even if she’s chosen to ignore it. (Although you do realize that just because she’s not addressing the issue of his cheating in a way that you can see, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s doing nothing about it, right? For all you know, every test this kid takes is being handed back to him stamped with a failing grade and scribbled threats of revenge in the margins.)
That said, I’ve got good news: if you really, really want to strike back, there is one other thing you can do—an option to which you’re entitled by virtue of the fact that this kid not only knows you know he’s been cheating, but has made you complicit by flaunting it in your general direction. Which puts you in a perfect position to say something! Not to your teacher, but to him: something like, “You know, dude, I just wanted to thank you for having so much faith in me. It’s so cute how you sit here because you think I won’t say anything about how you use your iPhone to cheat on every single test.”
Not because this is going to have any effect on this guy’s ability to game the system—and let’s be real, it probably won’t—but because resigning yourself to the existence of cheaters doesn’t mean you have to accept them as your allies. And while this guy’s bulls**t may be inescapable, you can still point out that you’ve noticed the smell.
And if you just happen to point it out loudly enough to stop every other conversation in the room? Well... oops! But hey, at least this dude will have learned one important lesson in French class—and one that's the same in any language, to boot.
Have you ever caught someone cheating? How did you handle it? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.
Related post: How to Handle Cheaters