The one thing we ignored in our syllabi this week...

plagiarism

It’s the first week of classes! I spent my week looking deep into the future of my semester. Oh what fun projects I will do this year! The possibilities are, pardon the cliché, endless! Oh, the places I will go!

Yet, as I reflected at the end of the week, every class had one commonality that I think doesn’t get talked about enough. Ever hear of the Simmons honor code? If you’ve read a syllabus in the past week you’d remember teachers dutifully reminding their students that plagiarism is taken seriously at this institution. I suppose in light of the recent cheating fiascos across the river you can hardly blame them. However, I remember skimming that part of the syllabi I had the fortune of reading this week, or rather skipping that part. It has occurred to me that this behavior is probably typical and symptomatic of the academic arena we were all raised in: DON’T COPY, DON’T CHEAT, DON’T STEAL...but most importantly, DON’T GET CAUGHT!

I teach an information literacy course for high school freshmen at the moment. I am forever shocked how they loathe citing information, even though creating a bibliography is probably easier now than it has ever been. I remind my students how important it is not to steal others’ work. They argue, “We’re honoring it by using it in our papers.”

“But how will they know about this compliment you’re paying them unless you include their name?!”

The debate continues, much in the same manner every time there is a long research paper due and I, along with other librarians, am facilitating the grueling citation process. I bemoan their cavalier attitude with my colleagues, and yet, what did I JUST do this week?! I casually glanced over the honor code. It may not be the same thing as a works cited page at the end of a paper but it’s in the same family tree.

Therefore, and wherefore, I invite the two eyes that skim this blog to take this opportunity to read the Simmons honor code in the hopes that our seriousness about this matter will become evident to a younger generation that needs powerfully smart role models like us. Librarians should be a beacon for anti-plagiarism hope.  Make it evident in the way you approach your studies this semester!

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