Normally, this would be an excellent day for a TILT: last day of classes, got an A+ on my 10-page term paper for a class, created an awesome presentation for another, Brewmeister brew we did a few weeks ago amazingly good, beautiful 84 degree weather....
An event at the end of the day unfortunately ruined the entire experience.
I received a group assignment back with comments stating that our assignment was word-for-word the same as another group's. As such, our actual score for the assignment was halved - i.e. we failed. This had me scratching my head in confusion. The tactic for this class with my group is a divide & conquer - we divide the work and do parts individually. For this assignment, we had to write up two sides of a debate, so it made perfect sense to do so - I was to write on the negative, another teammate had to write the affirmative.
It turns out that this teammate chose to use the work of another group's (to be fair to the other group, a group member there gave my teammate the information) and submitted it as his/her own for our assignment. The excuse? Three job interviews that day. The thing that baffles me is a) this teammate had a little under a week to do this task (which is pretty generous all things considered), b) the teammate didn't once ask for help from the other teammates when it became obvious that he/she wasn't going to complete it in time and c) that the teammate didn't even bother changing the work so that it would look original - it was a complete copy+paste from a group's assignment who was in our class.
One would think that, in the same mini as we're taking Business Law + Ethics, that this teammate would have considered the ethical implications of his/her actions.
The professor was very generous; he could've failed both groups' members from the class. But he also pointed out the pitfalls of working in groups - the group is accountable for the actions of a member.
My feelings on this irrationality of the teammember is that he/she was afraid of being labelled the free-rider, and the consequences of his/her decision was not considered. It's a fair concern. I have made it clear to my groups that I am planning on doing good work - my personal work ethic prevents me from slacking off - and I expect the same thing from my teammates. I don't like how some people are now believing that since a relatively good grade is going to be given with the minimum of work (and grades don't generally matter since we have non-grade disclosure), therefore they have decided to put forth a minimum of effort. I have a teammate like that, coincidentally in the same group as my cheating teammate.
The lessons to be learned here are pretty simple: obtain teammates whom I can trust, both in terms of honesty and in terms of work ethic. It's also something to spill over into the business world - there will always be people who will do the minimum required and those that are willing to take that extra step.
The second lesson: one cannot be taught ethics when societal influences are presumed to be strong. I know I will never partner or group with this person again. There's a part of me that says that I should give him/her a chance since I doubt this will ever happen again... but it wasn't a mistake, it was a genuine ethical breach and I'm not sure I want to be in this position again.