Wednesday, May 06, 2009

SRSLY, I cannot make this up

So I announce to my class this morning that they weren't getting their grades just yet because there had been a "plagiarism incident" that I was having to investigate. I told them that an individual in the class had plagiarized, I didn't specify how. I went on a bit with my spiel - about how I was disappointed in the person who did this, about how they were earning a 0 for the project, about how I did the project because I believed it benefited THEM to get some further writing and research experience, and that it was actually a lot of work for me to do this.

I laid it on a bit thick but then that's the prerogative of a professor in this situation.

I was very calm. I am not a yeller. I am not someone who finds it easy to get angry in front of other people. But I almost think it's more shocking - or at least, it is for me - when someone comes in and very quietly, very calmly says, "This thing happened and I am disappointed and a little bit angry." It's easier to write it off when the person comes in, guns blazing, flecks of spittle flying from the mouth.

The room got pretty quiet. (Incidentally, the plagiarizer was absent. She may know that she's caught, I'm not sure)

Then one of the mouthy guys in the back puts up his hand. "So, does this person know already?" he asked - I detected a note of nervousness in his voice.

"The person in question knows they did something wrong" I said. "I haven't confronted them yet, no."

"Are you going to tell them?" he continued.

"Oh, they'll find out."

(And all the while I'm thinking: you just earned a second going-over of your paper, dude.)

I did say that if the person came and confessed, while it wouldn't change their grade, it may make them feel better about themselves.

And I left it at that. We'll see if anyone else confesses. I'll be surprised if they do. (I think the guy in question was concerned that his citing was slipshod - he's been graded down for that - but to the best of my determination, his paper is NOT plagiarized. But we'll see. If he "cracks" and confesses he gets a 0).

I'm going to wait until Friday morning to post the grades. Just because I can.

I swear, if I ever get sick of teaching, I could probably do interrogation for the FBI.

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