Set up to fail

Communication majors shouldn’t have to take computer science courses


I remember leaving my professor’s office on the verge of tears sophomore year. There was a line of students in the hallway waiting to find out their fate. 

I knew why they were there. It was the same reason I was.

The professor thought we cheated. 

As a communication major, I was required to take CSE111 or CSE115 to even apply to the program.

I chose CSE111 and prayed I wouldn’t fail. Computer science isn’t something that comes easily to me, but I spent a lot of time seeking help from the teaching assistants.

Every class, a friend and I met with a TA who explained how to complete each project.

We did exactly as they said.

When they came over and explained the exact same information to us, it was inevitable that we had similar codes. Our projects had the same base, but each of our lines were expected to be unique. 

But my professor didn’t think they were unique.

My professor pulled me into his office and told me I cheated on a project in his class by working with another student. 

Instead of asking me what happened, he showed me what I did wrong and gave me zeros on two projects and a D for the course.

The accusation left me on the verge of a mental breakdown.

I have always been a straight-A student. I go to my professors’ office hours whenever I’m confused in class. 

I tried to explain to him that I did exactly what the TAs told me to do, but he didn’t believe me.

And while I knew I didn’t cheat, the only question I asked myself was what I was doing in that class in the first place. 

The answer is simple: I had no choice.

I don’t understand why this is still a prerequisite for communication majors. I feel like I was set up to fail. 

I had no knowledge of computer programming, and even after taking the course I was confused why my professor didn’t see my side. I am confused why, after all these cheating accusations in one class, the department doesn’t question the course as a whole. 

I don’t think communication majors need programing knowledge. I do not plan on becoming a computer programmer, software developer or anything else that deals with computers. 

The most intricate form of technology I have ever needed in a communication course was Google Docs. 

How is it fair that I am required to pay for this class?

Instead of leaving the course with more knowledge, I left with a hatred of the material and a record of cheating. 

While leaving my professor’s office, another student asked me what the professor wanted to talk about. I said it was about cheating.

“Again?” they asked. “This is the second time I have been accused in this class.” 

After I left my professor’s office, I marched down to the Student Conduct and Advocacy Office to speak with the student’s advocate. 

I wrote an email to my professor refuting the accusation and received a response: he was maintaining my zero for one project but gave me a new grade for the second project and bumped up my letter grade to a C+. 

Even though it turned out OK for me, I am still confused why I needed to take a computer science class in the first place.

I am bewildered that this is still a requirement for communication majors and I assume they are unaware that communication majors gain nothing from the course. 

But, how is that possible? With numerous cheating accusations in one course, largely from students who are not computer science majors, the department should start to question its requirement. 

But if they aren’t, we should question it as students. 

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