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Course Sharing

Trying to Help a Friend

"I can't let my friend down."

Everyone wants to help a friend in need—after all, they would do the same for you, right?

So, when a friend asks to see one of your old assignments, or wants to do an independent project together, or asks to sit next to you in an exam to get help, it can be hard to say no.

Academic integrity standards not only affect how you do your own work, but also affects the kinds of help or support you can offer.

If you help your friend in a way that goes against the professor's expectations for an assignment—even if you're not in the same class or program—you would have helped them cheat, which means you would also be held accountable for an academic integrity breach. The same rules apply if you upload content to course-sharing or homework help sites, or if you share content even on a private Discord server or in a group chat.

Tips to Overcome the Pressure of Trying to Help a Friend

Set Clear Boundaries

Setting clear boundaries can sometimes be easier said than done—it can be hard to disappoint a friend, especially if you know they're dealing with other stressors outside of the classroom. But setting boundaries are important to all relationships as it helps others understand how you take care of yourself, how you build trust with others, and what you're comfortable doing to create a mutually beneficial friendship.

If your friend asks you to help them cheat, you could try these approaches in your conversation:

  • Be clear about your priorities: You want to graduate from your program, and you don't want to do anything that might put your goal at risk. Maybe you have younger family members and you want to set a good example for them. Understanding that helping others cheat could threaten your priorities is an important point to share.
  • Use "I" statements when discussing your feelings: It can feel like a shock when someone you trust asks you to help them cheat. Try to take a step back from the situation. Rather than saying things like, "You're always doing your work too late" or "You're never going to learn this if I help you cheat", you can say things like, "I feel concerned that you're asking to use my work as your own—can we talk about other ways I can help you instead?"
  • Offer an alternative: Rather than sharing your course materials with a friend or with classmates on a course sharing site, point them to resources on campus.
    • If your friend is confused about their assignment, tell them to ask their professor for help.
    • If your friend needs help with their work, show them how to book an appointment at the Tutoring Centre.
    • If your friend is at risk of failing their classes, take them to the Student Advisement office to get help.