It’s 9 p.m. the night before your essay on Shakespeare is due. You haven’t read the work or even formulated an outline for how you will write your essay. You can either put your social life on hold and pump out a mediocre C- or copy and paste some clips you found online.
According to the Georgia College Student Code of Conduct, “‘Plagiarism’ is defined as presenting as one’s own work the words or ideas of an author or fellow student. Students should document quotes through quotation marks and footnotes or other accepted citation methods. Ignorance of these rules concerning plagiarism is not an excuse. When in doubt, students should seek clarification from the professor who made the assignment.”
Plagiarism is becoming a slowly growing trend among students this semester. To date, the Student Judicial Board has heard one plagiarism case resulting in the suspension of a student and has two cases pending that will be heard this week.
SGA Attorney General Andrew Whitaker said two of the cases referred to the Student Judicial Board involved a student sending a story to be proofread by a friend who turned in the same paper only changing minimal details of the story.
Whitaker expressed that he is very pleased the Judicial Board is putting its foot down and letting students know that plagiarism is not acceptable.
“I am just glad that the Board and the stance of the university has been set from faculty members and from the Judicial Board now as saying it is entirely unacceptable and you will not be at Georgia College if you plagiarize,” Whitaker said. “Plagiarism is the cardinal sin of higher education. If you do that at an Ivy league school or one of the service academies, you’re not just suspended, you’re expelled immediately and you never come back.”
There is no requirement that a teacher turn in a student caught plagiarizing. If a student commits plagiarism in a class, faculty members can handle the issue in two different ways.
The first way would be to handle it themselves within their office and assign the student an academic penalty that they find fair for the severity of the case. If they do not wish to report it to the Judicial Board for review they can simply call Gina Peavy, executive assistant to the vice president for student affairs, and have her enter the case into the Student Judicial Board database and mark the case as faculty disciplined.
According to Peavy, from Fall 2010 until now there have been nine plagiarism cases reported to the Student Judicial Board to be entered into its database. Five of those nine have been reported by the philosophy, accounting and education departments. The remaining four
have been reported by the English department. “Before they (the professors) decide if they are just going to report it or if they’re just going to refer them, they’ll ask ‘have they been reported before?’ And there have been times where I say yes they were reported last year for this same thing and they’ll say okay then send them before the Board,” Peavy said.
Alex Blazer, assistant professor for the Department of English and Rhetoric, says that during his four years here, he has dealt with 10 cases of plagiarism within his classes in the English Department. This semester there were five cases in one of his graduate assistants’ classes, ranging from minimal to severe. He expressed these cases of plagiarism are generally happening within the freshmen lower division English courses.
“For the most part it’s always in lower division courses, because upper division students, they know not to do it,” Blazer said. “The graduate students who tell me about it, I always have two or three per year that I help them with. I always tell them to go to Gina Peavy, but they don’t have to. It’s not a requirement.”
These 10 cases over four years have ranged in degree of severity. Two are cases of plagiarism shown by a student forgetting to cite something completely in his or her article or not properly citing that source within the article. The other eight cases show that students blatantly copied and pasted multiple sources and formulated a paper using those copied sources. In each case, Blazer has given an academic penalty to the students and reported it to the Student Judicial Board to add to its database.
“I don’t think about suspension. I just think about what is appropriate for my course and I have a policy; I go over it on the first day of class. If you do this, if it’s willful plagiarism, you go to some site and you cut and paste then you will probably fail the class,” Blazer said. “There are some cases where I don’t do that. I have them rewrite the paper and give them a D in the class or whatever it is.”