Thursday, May 6, 2010




1 archaic : one that plagiarizes
2 : plagiarism

I categorize PLAGIARY in the same group as unprotected sex, improperly refrigerated perishables, and late credit card payments. In short, risks that have been presented over and over (usually by authority figures) as either wrong or dangerous or unwise or recklessly foolish, so as to scare me into avoidance.

During my undergraduate years, the issue of PLAGIARY was addressed on almost every syllabus and paper topic handout. The warning began with a definition, followed by the subsequent course of action and repercussions should one mistakenly choose to commit this act. Serious professors often compounded the written warning with an even more ominous verbal threat, in so many words: "If you even try to get past me, I will sacrifice you to the gods of 'academic suspension and risk of expulsion.'"

These warnings conjure up images of American Lung Association posters warning against the dangers of smoking. My eleventh grade chemistry teacher had one of these images taped to the front of his desk facing the classroom. The poster depicted a girl whose outsides were rendered to look like her insides after smoking for X number of years. I stared at this poster everyday. Not that I needed any more convincing—I had decided many years earlier not to smoke, about the same time I was scared into recycling, keeping electrical appliances away from water and not picking my nose (which I now only do by necessity).

Perhaps the International Plagiarism Association should put out some threatening posters for college professors to display in their lecture rooms—I'm thinking of something along the lines of a student getting publicly executed for failing to properly cite a source. Or actually, an even scarier image would be a dark photograph of someone twenty years after getting expelled from college for PLAGIARY, sitting alone and jobless in a two-room apartment with vertical blinds twenty minutes outside the city.

That would scare me, for sure.

No comments:

Post a Comment