Saving the Name of Scholarship

DAY TWENTY-TWO – Take a stand. In 2011, what wrongs (big or small) did you attempt to right? How did you help make the world a better place? Why did you do it?

This past summer, I taught a basic public relations writing course. I had a lot of fun with my students, teaching them about press releases, fact sheets, brochures, and the like.

For their final assignment, my students had to write a position paper related to their “client” that they chose.

I was sitting in a Barnes and Noble cafe, grading my students’ position papers, when I noticed that one of my students had a font style change throughout parts of the paper. I thought, “hmm, that’s funny, usually that happens when you copy and paste from somewhere.” I decided to investigate further and found out that my student had essentially plagiarized the entire thing.

I took matters into my own hands immediately and contacted the Office of Student Conduct. I wrote a letter reporting what I found, and waited to see what will happen next.

What happened next was that I had to go to a hearing where I sat side by side with the student, telling my side of the story. Though he denied he plagiarized, the panel of faculty and students found him guilty, and swift action was taken against him.

Though the hearing was probably one of the worst experiences by far this past semester, I knew that I had to do it so that justice would be served. I had to wrong this right. I felt that it was my responsibility as an instructor to not let this student get away with this punishable offense (might I add, this isn’t the first time he’s plagiarized either). I owed it to my other students in that course that actually did all of the work.

As much as I hope I’ll never have to go through that again, I’m sure sometime in my teaching career it’ll happen. But I’ve noticed that in the short time I’ve been teaching that I’ve gotten a tougher skin. I’m not letting things slide that I would’ve let slide 4 years ago. I’m not letting students get grades that they didn’t deserve. I feel that it is my integrity as an instructor to do what is right, saving the name of scholarship.

About Rowena Winkler

Passionate Performer, Speaker and Writer by Calling, Dancer of All Good Beats, Yoga Practitioner and Enthusiast, Spiritual Trustee of the Universe, Traveler of Many Distant Lands, Lover of Derek the Logical but Amiable, Mother of Eponine/Dex/Teyla, Architect of Spoken Word Poetry, Trainer in the Craft of Communication, Unapologetic Individual, First of Her Name.
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