As a McGill student, you are responsible for knowing the rules and regulations concerning academic honesty, which can be found in The Handbook on Student Rights and Responsibilities. Perhaps more importantly, it is also your responsibility to help maintain the academic integrity of the University.
Cheating or plagiarizing by even one student hurts all students, because anything that undermines the evaluation process undermines the value of McGill's degrees. Therefore, carefully considered steps are taken to prevent students from cheating or plagiarizing and to catch those who do. Unfortunately, some students still resort to dishonesty, but any McGill student caught cheating or plagiarizing faces potentially serious consequences including, but not limited to, the possibility of conduct probation and a failure in the course; and such sanctions form a permanent part of the student's disciplinary record.
Some students try to justify cheating or plagiarism by claiming that they are pressured to outperform their classmates in order to succeed. There are two problems with this argument:
First, pressure to get good grades may explain the motivation to cheat, but it cannot justify actions that undermine the academic integrity of the University, and thereby debase the grades and degrees that students are striving for.
Second, McGill does not have a policy of "weeding out" a percentage of students. Indeed, we pride ourselves on the very high quality of our incoming students. We would like everyone who is accepted to McGill to succeed academically and to graduate with a degree. In addition, there is no policy in Science to grade students by how they rank in a class. Therefore, focus on mastering your course material, not on competing with your classmates.