As a student and teacher, I appreciated the short story “So Much Unfairness of Things” by C.D.B. Bryan. Though the story is set in an American prep school in the 1960’s, the ethical dilemma it explores remains pertinent today. In the story, the protagonist must pass the school’s Latin exam in order to graduate. Though he has tried to study for the exam, the subject matter eludes him, and during the middle of the exam, he decides to cheat and copies a passage translation from his class notes. The protagonist’s best friend, who witnesses the cheating, follows the school’s honour code and informs the school authorities about the incident. The story ends with the expulsion of the protagonist.
In sharing this story with students, my focus is on the role of the protagonist’s best friend. Turning in his friend must have been an agonizing decision. Clearly, this decision flies in the face of the informal social code within the school, which guides students not to “snitch” on one another. However, if bystanders turn a blind eye to things that harm individuals or others, then the bonds of trust and responsibility that hold a community together begin to fray.
Ultimately, every Greenwood student is responsible for reinforcing the school’s values. When other students see individuals step forward to do the right thing, it encourages others to do likewise. These actions are what keep Greenwood a safe place to learn.