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Koofer use permitted by university

April 19th, 2005
Scott Smith

Staff Writer

Copies of old tests are circulated on Virginia Tech’s campus semester after semester. These old tests, known by many students as “koofers,” raise an issue when it comes to Tech’s honor code.

“As far as the Honor System is concerned, we follow whatever each professor allows in their respective classes,” said Andy Estes, chief justice of Virginia Tech’s Honor System and senior computer science major. “As far as a violation of university policy is concerned, any monetary exchange of compensation raises a different issue — taking copies of professors’ tests and attempting to sell them to other students is a direct violation of the Honor Code.”

Susan Watkins, professor of history, said she hopes to evade the use of koofers in her classes.

“I give review questions and chronological timetables for my tests, but I will use similar questions over and over so students are not blinded while studying. Sharing information can cause awkwardness and an uncomfortable atmosphere among the students, so I find it okay as long as they are learning; some students just learn differently,” she said.

Some students said they find koofers as an easy way to prepare for the tests. They present an example of what the test will contain, and many students find them necessary for successful studying.

“I have found koofers to be very valuable when provided by the professor,” said Jeremy O’Connor, senior computer science major. “I don’t necessarily think getting old koofers from a classmate is cheating, but I’ve never done it.”

According to the honor code, viewing an old test to prepare for an upcoming one is not cheating, as long as the professor permits it as a valid studying tool.

“It’s not cheating,” said J.B. Huyett, senior political science major. “If a professor allows the handing out of the tests, then it is the students’ property and they can do what they want with it. If professors are naïve enough to ask the same questions on tests that they had previously used, then they should deal with the consequences.”

Chris Buman, junior political science and history double major said he doesn’t see a problem with koofers because they help students prepare for tests.

“By using koofers, students are able to get a feel for how a professor formats not only the exam itself, but questions as well, which helps make us better prepared,” he said. “The argument that koofers prevent learning is bogus, in my honest opinion.”

With koofers so abundant, the issue of fairness is raised, as students not having access to a koofer may be at a disadvantage to students who do have access.

“I think that in many subjects, professors may use them for continuity with their lectures, but as far as helping the students understanding the material, memorizing is of no worth,” said Sheila Carter-Tod, professor of English.

Estes said The University Honor Court has found a minimum amount of incidents involving the misuse of old tests.

“It would be a vary rare case that we receive a problem with koofers — a lot of professors have realized that its just easier to allow them,” Estes said.

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