« Media Alert! | Main | The Silver Lining »

Upside down

Six college students commit plagiarism, which is defined as literary theft, but guess who ends up getting fired?

Texas A&M International University in Laredo fired a professor for publishing the names of students accused of plagiarism.

In his syllabus, professor Loye Young wrote that he would "promptly and publicly fail and humiliate anyone caught lying, cheating or stealing." After he discovered six students had plagiarized on an essay, Young posted their names on his blog, resulting in his firing last week.

"It's really the only way to teach the students that it's inappropriate," he said.

Young, a former adjunct professor of management information systems, said he believes he made the right move. He said trials are public for a reason, and plagiarism should be treated the same way. He added that exposing cheaters is an effective deterrent.

"They were told the consequences in the syllabus," he said. "They didn't believe it."

The six students received F's and were reported to the school, but their grades may not stand because of Young's blog post, according to insidehighered.com.

Young, who also operates a computer business in Laredo, was terminated for violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law that prohibits the release of students' educational records without consent. But he said he does not believe he infringed on anyone's privacy.

"You have to hold them accountable," he said. "If you don't, you hold a grave danger of having an illiterate society."

I don't know about a illiterate society, but you end up condoning thievery. Personally I take a dim view of plagiarists because I've seen my literary work stolen by others. I don't appreciate people taking credit for my work, when it takes me hundreds of hours to crank out a story or even over a thousand. One online story of mine that numbered over 100,000 words, had me spending the late winter of 2007 and most of the spring getting it written and ready for publication. If I tallied all the time spent working on my tale, I'd estimate it to be in the 400-600 hours range.

The University's actions are predictable in light of Young not being tenured and Federal law that protects student records. As a writer and blogger, I'm angry the real rule breakers in this affair are getting off with little punishment(Their F grades are under review) other than the humiliation they received from Professor Young.

Renita Coleman, a UT assistant professor who taught a journalism course on ethics in the spring, said there are better ways to handle plagiarism.

"I don't think that it serves anybody well to publicly humiliate them," she said. "It doesn't teach anybody that it's wrong."

Coleman said each university has specific guidelines for dealing with cheating, and situational factors should be taken into account. She said she has dealt with repentant plagiarists who weren't punished severely since they said they learned a lesson.

"Admitting your mistake and making an effort to fix it goes a long way," she said. "Motivations matter."

I disagree with Professor Coleman. Humiliation or the fear of it, are great ways to motivate people. Humiliation is used every day in criminal justice and effectively. Wouldn't it have the same effect in academia?

Hat tip- Professor Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy. Insider Higher Ed is also writing on this news.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (14)

Public humiliation is the p... (Below threshold)

Public humiliation is the perfect response to college-level plagiarism. I disagree with the notion that it's a kind of theft (because there is no scarcity created), but on the other hand it's a very serious form of dishonesty. I think the plagiarists' classmates deserve to know who was lying to them to get ahead.

That the plagiarists' F's are under review is just grotesque.

Dan writes- Public humil... (Below threshold)

Dan writes- Public humiliation is the perfect response to college-level plagiarism. I disagree with the notion that it's a kind of theft (because there is no scarcity created), Theft is theft, whether it is intellectual or property. That written words aren't scarce isn't the point, they were not the student's property and therefore not theirs to claim ownership to.

Bill is correct. Legally, t... (Below threshold)

Bill is correct. Legally, there is no need for a good to be taken for it to constitute theft. The students are no more allowed to profit - be it grade or money - from the written work of another than I'm allowed to profit from a Bob Dylan song.

However, as a current student, I'll contribute that student privacy laws are quite draconian, and probably for good reason. The teacher may not even disclose that you got an A without your permission, at least in Oregon. The threat of an F and several hundred or thousand wasted dollars is enough for most folks.

Funny, how the Duke lacross... (Below threshold)

Funny, how the Duke lacrosse team members were falsely accused of a crime and a number of faculty members got away with trying to figurative lynch them.

But when somebody violates clear cut rules and steals the hard work of another, they get off.

The irony would be if any of these students would go on to become lawyers specializing in intellectual property law.

Coleman obviously subscribe... (Below threshold)

Coleman obviously subscribes to the notion that unlawful actions should have a minimum of consequences.

Those 6 scholars need to take a reading comprehension course. How else would you explain doing something that you've been told will have painful repercussions.

You do the crime, you do the time and STFU.

I humiliated the sh*t out o... (Below threshold)

I humiliated the sh*t out of people who cheated or made stuff up on essays. It was usually student athletes, commerce students, BBA students, or engineers, all of which believed that me requiring them to do actual research prior to submitting a measly 8 typed double-sided pages was grossly unfair as it's "only an elective" for most of them.

I especially enjoyed an e-mail I got from an irate father saying he wasn't paying "twelve f*cking thousand dollars a year" for his brat son to study business at an excellent university only to have him fail out for cheating on a "stupid" philosophy paper. A corporate lawyer, this father's e-mail was baldly threatening and yet the Dean of Arts actually stuck up for the professor and I and the kid had to suffer the consequences we imposed. Ironically enough, the class was an intro to critical thinking and informal logic. The "F" this p.o.s. received disqualified him from progressing to second year within his program. Gawd, I still get a tingle up my leg when I think of that sniffling little puke begging for his grade to be expunged...

Journalism course on eth... (Below threshold)
Occam's Beard:

Journalism course on ethics...Journalism course on ethics...

OK, now I'm back. Sorry, I was in a reverie for a minute, letting that phrase soak in.

I'm a sometimes adjunct pro... (Below threshold)

I'm a sometimes adjunct professor of English, and I've dealt with a number of plagiarists. At first I used to feel bad for them, but then I saw enough to get jaded about it. There are, of course, the ones who don't know they're plagiarizing, not quoting or citing things appropriately, for example. Or some international students come from academic cultures with different ideas about plagiarism. It's usually pretty easy to tell when you're dealing with the accidental plagiarists. But most of them buy their papers from internet clearing houses, or wholesale cut and paste papers together from articles, which is really dumb, because I can just google a suspect passage to find its source. My most recent policy, for intentional plagiarists, is "You will fail the paper, and you may fail the class." This allows me some flexibility in how I deal with it, depending on the situation.

I do support this prof's hardcore approach to dealing with it. Plagiarism is rampant on college campuses, and it won't stop unless it becomes a serious taboo. I really hate it when I discover a paper plagiarize, because then I begin to suspect all the good papers, which is a shame. I try to plagiarism-proof my assignments, but one rough semester, when I was kind of phoning it in, I had a third of the students plagiarize their final paper, which was enough for them all to fail. It was crazy. In the age of google, the situation has really gotten out of hand.

Let's see...plagiarism. Tha... (Below threshold)

Let's see...plagiarism. That means theft, laziness, sloth, dependency. Yep, looks like any teacher discouraging that should certainly be fired. Why, he was taking a chance on converting sure Obama voters into possible republicans!

The only review this kid's ... (Below threshold)

The only review this kid's F should get is to make sure it's a capital F in bold face and italics.

He got the syllabus. It clearly stated the penalty for plagiarism and he still did it. Let's hope he wasn't planning on going into corporate law reviewing contracts.

I'm a grad student at Texas... (Below threshold)

I'm a grad student at Texas A&M-Commerce and in all of my classes, I've actually had to sign 1) an academic honesty policy (the school has a generic one or the prof can tailor it specifically to the class) and 2) a form stating I read and understood the syllabus of the course. Thesyllabus is treated as a contract between student and professor. They knew what the consequences were and did it anyway. I have no sympathy for the students. And if they can Google it, are they stupid enough to think their professor can't?

I am all for spelling out w... (Below threshold)

I am all for spelling out who has been kicked out for plagiarism, to make it clear the policy is being enforced. However, posting all the details on a blog may have been a bit much. Still, the prof should have been rebuked, not fired, for having a toe cross the line.

They FAILD to do the work<b... (Below threshold)

They FAILD to do the work
They FAILED in meeting integrity standards.
They obviously FAILED to read the syllabus or comprehend it.

F is what they get.
The students were just emulating BHO and Joe Bidden.

hyperbolist, sometimes you ... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

hyperbolist, sometimes you are frickin' awesome.






Follow Wizbang

Follow Wizbang on FacebookFollow Wizbang on TwitterSubscribe to Wizbang feedWizbang Mobile


Send e-mail tips to us:

[email protected]

Fresh Links


Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

Emeritus: Paul, Mary Katherine Ham, Jim Addison, Alexander K. McClure, Cassy Fiano, Bill Jempty, John Stansbury, Rob Port

In Memorium: HughS

All original content copyright © 2003-2010 by Wizbang®, LLC. All rights reserved. Wizbang® is a registered service mark.

Powered by Movable Type Pro 4.361

Hosting by ServInt

Ratings on this site are powered by the Ajax Ratings Pro plugin for Movable Type.

Search on this site is powered by the FastSearch plugin for Movable Type.

Blogrolls on this site are powered by the MT-Blogroll.

Temporary site design is based on Cutline and Cutline for MT. Graphics by Apothegm Designs.

Author Login

Terms Of Service

DCMA Compliance Notice

Privacy Policy