So. My university supposedly has the highest standards possible when it comes to plagiarism and academic dishonesty. Yes, indeedy. We demand the honesty from our students, and so help us God if they don’t play by the rules there. Will. Be. Consequences. Serious fucking consequences.
Now here at Shithole U it is up to the stalwart faculty to hunt down the plagiarist, compile a file with all the relevant information, and compose a letter to the chair charting the plagiarism and exposing it, along with any outrageous lies about said plagiarism that the student commits along the way (and there are plenty).
This, dear reader, takes a lot of time, and is also demoralizing. We don’t subscribe to those nifty plagiarism detection sites. That costs money. No, the onus is on us, the faculty members, to make sure we have every bit of evidence necessary to see to it that the student gets what they deserve.
To that end there is also a large university committee whose task it is to oversee these cases as they come up, and adjudicate the proper punishment. Many, many hours are spent by the aforementioned committee members, going over the evidence. In addition the student and professor are brought into the same room at the same time and each is questioned by the committee, which is at best uncomfortable and at worst possibly fatal, so this is no fun for anyone as you can imagine.
As a Humanities professor, I see my share of plagiarism cases. I document every one. Every semester I get them. Every semester I chase down the sources, write the letters, etc. Because it’s my job. Or, rather, it was. Because after what happened regarding my most egregious plagiarist, I have recently come to the conclusion that the entire process is useless.
Consider the following:
1. I as a faculty member cannot know the history of the student, other than the fact that I have accused them of plagiarism.
2. The committee knows the entire context of the student’s history, but cannot share that with me.
3. The committee after long deliberation makes their recommendation to the dean as to punishment, but they do not report that decision to me.
4. The dean is not responsible to the committee to report her final decision. She informs me, who, of course, is not supposed to know what the committee recommended, or why.
Can you see what’s happening here? Hours and hours of faculty time and effort expended on citing and reviewing and punishing dishonest students, but the dean can do whatever she wants, because the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing, or has done. I don’t ever know what the committee decides. I only know what the dean finally decides. The committee never knows what the dean decides; they only know what they have recommended. I know what the dean decides, but I don’t have the full context of her judgment, nor am I informed of the committee’s recommendation.
All this is “confidential,” which serves the dean herself very well. But, well…we all know “confidentiality” is a joke on college campuses, don’t we? I know people on that committee. And people talk. The particular student in question plagiarized flagrantly four times in the same semester, only once with me. That was only the number that was actually turned in by faculty members—and you can see how the system is geared towards faculty members not reporting plagiarism in the first place, because it is onerous and is bound to provoke anxiety.
The committee met for hours to consider the evidence and determine punishment—think of it! There are at least ten people on that committee. Probably a week of man hours for that one meeting. And they basically said that if this wasn’t a case for expulsion, nothing was. That if we did not expel this student for egregious, repeated violations of academic conduct, there were no grounds to ever expel anyone. The student himself had no excuse. He was near to graduating, and had been reported for plagiarism before, but chose to plagiarize yet again four times within one semester.
Because of my connections, I knew about this before the dean made her final decision. So you can imagine my pique when I got a memo stating that the student was suspended for spring semester and could enroll again in the summer of 2011.
What? The? Fuck? Why are you wasting our time, Dean Fucker? Why? Why do you put all the work on faculty members and then piss in their faces and do whatever the fuck you want anyway?
Because, of course, Dean Fucker doesn’t care about how much work we fucking do. Dean Fucker doesn’t think we work at all. Dean Fucker doesn’t want trouble from the student, and wants the money the student will pump into the university trying to get his degree, and wants to be able to mark that student graduated so our graduation rate won’t suck so hard.
It’s you that suck so hard, Dean Fucker. You suck so very, very hard.
And after this semester I am never again turning in a student for plagiarism. Never. I am going to punish them in my own terrible way, and enforce that punishment with signatures written in blood. And if no one else on campus knows that they plagiarized, I can’t imagine that it will much matter, can you?
Because Dean Fucker will do whatever she wants anyway.