Today: Jun 17, 2024

AI is not going away

Jaylen Carr Sports Editor

The university’s Faculty Senate meeting on Feb. 22 discussed a hot-button topic among students and faculty, the use of artificial intelligence in academics. Senate members concluded that it would be decided by the professor if its academic misconduct.  

According to the Faculty Senate Resolution document discussing the issue of AI use by students says, “the unsanctioned use of AI-powered tools in the completion of student work, without the explicit written consent of the teaching faculty, a violation of the BOR/CSCU Student Code of Conduct part D.1, and therefore a form of academic misconduct.”  

Some faculty members agree with the resolution, but there are others faculty members that can see the positives that AI can have.  

Douglas Macur, faculty senator and Chair of the Technology Committee, said, “Assuming the professor of the course is authorizing the use of AI-powered tools in a classroom or encouraging the use of AI-powered tools in the classroom, I don’t see an issue with it.” 

There are courses in the computer science department that uses and focuses on AI which makes sense for students to use, Macur said.  

“That being said, I’m of the opinion that the unauthorized use of it, as in if the professor has not explicitly allowed it, then that is an academic dishonesty problem,” said Macur.  

Psychology professor and graduate coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Heidi Lockwood, teaches a computer ethics course that discusses the ethical aspects of technology.  

Lockwood said two students used ChatGPT, a language tool created by OpenAI, during her winter session course on their writing assignments.  

“The way that I handled it was I used ChatGPT to respond to their assignment openly,” Lockwood said. “I had meetings with them to discuss the fact that I was using ChatGPT, and they said they use ChatGPT to write the assignment.” 

Lockwood noticed the difference between the student’s writing style and the writing style from ChatGPT. 

“There was such a huge differential,” said Lockwood. “I don’t think I could’ve detected it if they were using ChatGPT right from day one and consistently for everything.” 

Macur said ChatGPT might be an excellent tool for students to make outlines before writing a paper.  

“Assuming the instructor is okay with it,” Macur said. “That is the important distinction.” 

Students at the university expressed how they felt about AI use and the alternative options they use when they struggle with assignments.  

Biology major Olivia Ortiz, a sophomore, said she had yet to hear about the use of AI on campus, but she did hear about it through her brother.  

“I have talked to my brother about ChatGPT, and he said that it has been a rising issue, but I did not realize that it was happening on Southern campus,” Ortiz said.   

When Ortiz struggles with completing an assignment, she says that she contacts the faculty member in the course or steps away from her work and returns to the assignment later with a different thought process.   

School counseling program student Gianna Mendes, a graduate student, said she also contacted her professors.  

“I’m not shy when it comes to asking questions,” Mendes said. “When I was here as an undergrad, I was really nervous about making it seem that I don’t know what I was talking about and being vulnerable in that way.” 

History major Ashley Fernandes, a senior, said she has yet to hear about the AI issue but finds it unethical for students to use it to their advantage.  

Ortiz said: “It is obviously unethical because you are not doing the work yourself, and it shows that you are getting the credit for something you are not doing. It leads to a lot of nitty-gritty rabbit holes of issues with getting your degree.” 

Macur said the issue of students using AI will be an evolving situation.  

“Technology marches forward, and this is very much a case of pandora’s box has been opened, and we can’t put the genii back in the bottle,” Macur said. “This is the new reality that ChatGPT is here to stay.” 

Lockwood said AI could be used to plagiarize, just like Google and other search engines.   

Lockwood said, “AI is here to stay; it’s not going away.”  

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