Plagiarism Sucks

Posted: 23/09/2014 in Rants and Raves

I sent this note out to students. About five across two classes have plagiarized. Not only were they unashamed when caught, they were unapologetic. They wouldn’t discuss it with me. One tried to ‘rewrite’ her work and resubmit it. They disgust me. I detest them. I’m ashamed to be in education right now because it is so fraught with bureaucracy and buzz words and ‘protecting’ the student. Fellow students, by the way, are just as angry–they are asking me, “I saw someone’s post, and clearly, they stole stuff off Wikipedia. Did you see that?” All I can say is, “Yes, and I followed the rules in my syllabus.” When I started teaching, it was about helping people grow and learn. It was about how could I best achieve that. Now, it’s all about ‘success rates’ and ‘documentation of critical thinking by giving students an assessment of how they ‘felt’ about the assessment.’ I technically can retire in 12 years. I am trying to figure out a way to shave that down a bit. I am starting to hate (yes, I know–strong word) and dread every day I work and every paper I have to read. I am a glorified tech support person who also gets some money to enable students, not teach them.

I made the religious notation because in their personal introductions, a huge percentage of my students commented how important their religion was to them; it’s not normally something I’d even mention. It sickens me that so many of them wear religious regalia and still cheat. One of my cheaters is a nurse. Does she cheat on other things, I wonder? I personally think plagiarism or cheating is despicable and wish anyone who did it would be summarily kicked out of college. However, there’s so much due process to protect students, they get a 0. That’s about all I can do that will actually stick unless they are repeat offenders. We couldn’t even get a file started to keep a record of repeat offenders in different classes. It’s insane.

Dear Students,

Being a student can be very challenging. It’s often made more difficult by life circumstances. I was in grad school and teaching when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died, at the same time I was going through a divorce. I stuck with school and finished, even though that semester wasn’t my best work. This past January, my father died after a long illness at the same time we were without power due to the ice storm. I was taking two programming classes–and withdrawing from them was the best option for me because I got too far behind to catch up. I kept my professors informed, but I took responsibility for my decisions–they were my choices.

However, one thing I HAVE NEVER, EVER done, in 10 years of school and through 3 degrees and 4 additional courses in math and computer science for personal enrichment and through a LOT OF “PERSONAL STUFF” is plagiarize. If you want examples and a definition, READ YOUR SYLLABUS. I was recently singled out and complimented by the dean of social sciences for my clear explanations on what plagiarism is and what consequences it incurs. Plagiarism is dishonest. It is lying. It is cheating. If you consider yourself religious in any way, think of it as immoral and wrong and the same as stealing. If you commit plagiarism, that’s the same as going into a store and stealing something another person has worked hard to make and produce. Let’s not mince words here.

I’ve taught 20 years. I’ve heard ALL the excuses (and they usually fall into one of these categories):

•    “I’m so busy, I just took a shortcut.”

•    “My personal life is hard right now–a lot is going on.”

•    “I didn’t know it was a problem. I thought it would be okay just this once.”

•    “I wasn’t clear on what you meant by how to cite sources in writing.”

I don’t care about your excuse. I don’t care about your reason. I do care about you not doing it–ever. Read the syllabus again. Ask your advisor. Ask tutors. I have had about five students commit some sort of plagiarism this semester. They have received the consequences. Possibly others have done it and not yet got caught–trust me, you will get caught at some point.

Make sure you do not copy and paste work from the internet. Make sure you cite your sources. Make sure you ASK if you are ever unsure if you are doing it right.

There is never an excuse. Never. I will make sure you are given the harshest consequences possible. I am aware and watching. Think about that before you are tempted to commit plagiarism.

Dr. Andromache

PS: Yes, I am quite furious. The thoughts of someone stealing another person’s writing and hard work is absolutely infuriating to me. I find it abominable behavior and have zero respect for anyone who would do this.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s