A TikToker and college student Marley (@m.stevens03) warned others of the potential dangers of using the popular writing tool, Grammarly, when submitting college essays. She talked about it in a popular video that has received nearly 384,000 views in the first 24 hours it was posted.
“I received a zero,” Marley exclaimed after receiving a failing grade in her criminal justice class. The offense? A built-in web browser that Marley said she used strictly for “spell check and punctuation check,” but that her professor deemed was “cheating” because of the use of generative artificial intelligence.
Marley pleaded her case to the department head and the dean, but she says the verdict was the same: guilty.
One user expressed their support for the frustrated student, writing, “Keep going up the chain. You should not get penalized for grammarly,” while another user shared Marley’s experience, commenting, “Same thing happened at my school! So many people were being told they ‘used AI’ to write their papers but it was because of Grammarly!”
The comment section echoed Marley’s frustration and also appeared to point out a growing problem for college students: a lack of clear policy regarding AI use in schools places students at risk.
One user noted the contradiction in her own university’s policy, writing, “My last college gave a FREE subscription to Grammarly,” while another puzzled, “My school pays for us to have grammarly so now i’m confused because we also use turn it in.”
Marley’s story highlights the debate regarding the rules of AI use in schools and the very real effect it has on students. In Marley’s case, the writing tool Grammarly was installed on her web browser and served as a form of “spell check,” with Marley asserting it wrote absolutely nothing for her but still running afoul of the university’s academic integrity policy, resulting in a zero.
A harsh sentence for such an offense. But, as many students already know, professors have found increasingly creative ways to combat the use of AI, and without a clear policy on what is and what is not considered cheating, many students find themselves treading lightly with emerging technologies, and often suffering the consequences as a result.
As educators and institutions grapple with the rapid advancement of AI and other emerging technologies, one thing is clear, policy is struggling to catch up. Fortunately, Marley’s video serves as a public service announcement for college students across the U.S.: perhaps an inadvertent call to action for students trying to keep their academic good standing.
The outlet Grammarist strongly contests that there’s a distinct difference between “cheating” and using apps like Grammarly, and even names the specific tool: “No, Grammarly is not the same as cheating. Cheating is a massive problem at all levels of education, and with the incredible amount of online material, students don’t have trouble finding ways to copy and paste.”
Academic Influence also supports this same viewpoint when it comes to proofreading apps like Grammarly at the college level: “This is the strongest proof that the Grammarly online editor is no longer considered cheating among educators and students.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to Grammarly via email Marley via TikTok comment.