June 10, 2013 - submitted by Claire, United States of America

I was hoping you would be able to help me out. You see, in January, when I was taking finals, I found one of my best friends was cheating on the final. I made a very hard decision and reported him and one other friend that was guilty. I planned on it being anonymous so my teacher could change the test and I wouldn't be found out, AND my friends would not get in trouble, but in the end, my wishes were not respected. (They basically MADE me tell them who it was.)
The test was not changed, and my friends got week suspensions, after being informed it was I who ratted them out. It has been a few months, and neither will talk to me. This is horrifying because they were my best friends! What should I do? I have already apologized and explained myself thousands of times, but to no avail. My other friends say I should give up, but I can't do that, also because I can't hang out with my other best friends since these two are always there. Please give me some advice?

The Oracle replies:

You were faced with a moral dilemma and you made a decision that you thought was right - nobody should pass judgment on that. I wonder if you would have given the information if you thought your name would be revealed. Maybe talking to your friends before reporting them could have helped.
This is an issue of loyalty in friendships but loyalty to your mates should not mean you have to compromise your ethics and beliefs if it makes you uncomfortable.
They may call you a grass or a snitch but it was dishonest of them and unfair. You and other students had put the time and work into studying. I would certainly look at why you told the teacher but then accept the consequences much like they have had to do. If you could go back and change your decision, would you?
Some would argue it's nobody's business but theirs and let them live with the knowledge they cheated. It's a valid point but it depends on what lies beneath your decision. If you're happy to stand by it, you still did the right thing - for you. They may never agree and they're also entitled to that opinion.
Perhaps being friends with people who do things you don't approve of isn't the best option for you & it's time to move on to different friends.
We are all capable of doing stupid things from time to time and maybe being caught will make them think before they act in future. It may take time for them to see this and I wouldn't expect a miracle.
I feel you have every right to express your voice and as an "informant", you have a right to anonymity if you request it – but people can't "make you" give that information. I would advise anyone faced with a decision like this, stick to your guns but also insist you will not divulge names. I don't think the staff have acted appropriately & I'd be tempted to talk to them about the repercussions.
Your friends' reactions are understandable but they are treating you like you have done something wrong instead of themselves.
If they are not listening to you, maybe try explaining in a letter that you were trying to come to a fair conclusion & had no intention of it causing trouble for them.
I'd also add that whilst apologizing for the outcome, you hope they understand knowing you as their friend that you were struggling with the information and that was the only way you felt you could deal with it. Explain the pressure put upon you at the time. It is their choice to be friends with you but you obviously think it's worth trying again.
I hope they forgive you but if they don't, perhaps they weren't the best friends you thought they were.
Over to you.

Listen, Claire. What you did was right, but sometimes it's just really better if you don't give much attention to what others do and just focus on your own matters. I get that it might be hard to see a wrong act and not report it, but sometimes we should just let things be. I have learnt that off personal experience when I reported a classmate who was bringing illegal material into class. It might be hard for you to hang around people who are with either of your past best friends, but I think you should just go with people even if the two are around, just don't really talk to them (your ex-bestfriends). If they were really good friends, they would've got over it and saw that they were the ones in the wrong path, and actually accepted your endless apologies as you stated you did. I think this is an experience that might show you who your real friends are. Solaf.

First of all, you Claire, have done nothing wrong. The only people who have done something wrong are your friends and teachers. Your friends for cheating and your teachers for telling them it was you. It is very brave and strong of you to go reporting your friends, I admire you for it. Cheating is wrong and you made it clear that it is. No matter who is doing it. You seem to have done everything to apologize to your friends, and that is the right way to get them back. But why should you really apologize, when they are the ones who did wrong? And do you really want them back, when they did something you thought was so wrong that you reported it? Even though they were your best friends before, you might consider if they were such good friends in the beginning. I am sorry to say it and it is hard to think like that about your friends, I know. But just maybe, you will find better friends than them when this has happened. I certainly hope so, you seem like a person who deserve it. Honesty is the best policy, isn't that how the expression goes? Hanna, Sweden.

What you did took enormous courage; but it was the right decision. You did the right thing by telling someone that they were cheating on the test. Cheating is something that is never okay. And, as for your "friends"; forget about them. They are not your real friends, because if they were, they would understand you when you tried to explain to them why you did what you did, and they would have also accepted your apology. Also- forget about the other "friends" that you have- they as well are not your real friends; because if they were they would be sticking up for you. So, don't continue to worry about this; you will soon make new friends that will REALLY care for you, will understand you, and will ALWAYS do whatever it takes to stick up for you. P.S. KEEP YOUR HEAD UP! THINGS WILL GET BETTER VERY SOON! AND KEEP SMILING! from the U.S.A.

First: I congratulate you on your decision to report those people. In any (and especially an academic) environment lying and seeking advantages is wrong! but ask yourself one question: do you really want friends who think it's ok to cheat? Eva.

For me I think you did the right thing. Although it scratched your friendship a bit, it was a very brave thing to do. It was an act of fortitude that I would not be able to do myself. Your friends knew what they were doing was wrong and they still did it. It was a good thing you had the courage to do what was right.
I would make it up to them by little acts of kindness. Do good deeds for them one step at a time. Like offering to help them with subjects they are weak at. Buying them tickets if their favorite band is in town. Smile at them more often but not to much because they might find it creepy. Do what you can to show them that you are still the good friend you are.
Well if they really won't forgive you. Then I suggest you should give up. If your friends can't understand that you were just trying to do the right thing then you should go look for those who can. Maybe it's time to stop being around people who infuse your mind with bad things, and time to surround yourself with people who are good examples.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
I hope everything becomes okay with you,Claire. All the way from the Philippines (somewhere in Asia), Rianna.

Claire that was a douchebag move. You need to ask yourself why you ratted them out. I'm pretty sure you will end up finding out it was about you and not them. I'm sure you never thought it through because if they didn't find the cheat sheets they would use you as a witness. It's probably good they did because it is important that you learn from it too. My advice to you is that if you really want to remain friends with the two people and not only because they hang out with the same group you do is to admit that you did it for selfish reasons. Trust will be an issue for all your friends now if you ratted on your best friend. Ask yourself how you would feel if the positions were reversed. In the end people who cheat are only cheating themselves (common saying), and as my brother would say, the A students are working for the C students. At this point stop being St Claire, who only wanted the best for them and become the truth. In my opinion that is your only chance and over time rebuild trust. If they still don't wanna be your friend, (totally understandable) take it as a learning experience and move on. Sorry to be so harsh, but I think you need it. Jeff R.

I want to reiterate that I feel you did the right thing. Academic dishonesty or cheating of any kind is serious and really misses the point of learning. You made a hard decision and that takes a great deal of bravery. In my opinion, your school, unfortunately, handled the situation very poorly—as they have basically made it very difficult for students who would report academic dishonesty to actually do so. Schools should make their best effort to ensure that you (and students like you) feel safe stepping forward. At the same time, I believe that schools should also provide more reformative action for students who might cheat. Basically, those students who have cheated need chances to redeem themselves without it permanently affecting their records, as we all make bad decisions sometimes.

Maybe your friends will come around someday—it is hard to know. It has been my experience that true friends often outgrow many of the fights that seemed huge in grade school. In the meantime, it sounds like you have a group of supportive friends, and my advice is to focus on them for the time being. If the two friends who are angry with you are always with the rest of your friends, make an effort to plan independent activities with those who show more understanding. This might also be a good time to reach out to new people and begin forming new friendships. All the best, Susannah.

Your friends did not right to cheat on the finals, they are cheating themselves. Obviously you have a sense for justice, that’s a good thing. Otherwise you were in one line with your friends and not responsible for what they were doing. To cheat the examines is wrong, but it doesn’t really harm to someone usually, except is was an exam for physicians. Primarily it is the job of the institution to catch the cheaters, but they did not thank you for it either.
Your friends are disappointed and you will have to start from the very beginning to get their confidence back again, this will need time. If they can be real friends they will be able to forgive one day, hopefully. Best wishes. W. N.

I think if someone wants to cheat, lie, steal you only owe it to yourself to tell them how you feel & your intentions so they can decide whether to carry out the plan. I don't think anyone should become judge & jury especially not with friends. I'm not sure why you didn't hand in an anonymous letter to the teacher so they couldn't ask for anything further from you. Don't feel guilty. What's done is done so just forget about it and move on. JC.

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