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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

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    UA’s plagiarism policy too stringent

    Picture, if you would, two drivers, both traveling on a sunny day. One is driving down Broadway Boulevard in Tucson at 75 mph, while the other is driving down a country road in Nebraska at 55 mph. Now let’s assume both are pulled over.

    The first will receive a fairly harsh punishment in a court of law, and deservedly so, while the second is hardly likely to see a citation let alone a courtroom. However, if both were stopped by an Officer of Plagiarism, they would have their license revoked, their car impounded, and both would be facing considerable jail time. The court of law is governed by intelligent consideration while the court of plagiarism is governed by none other than the executioner. Throughout our legal system there are degrees and variations of any one crime. That is not the case with plagiarism. Why? How is a university, specifically its teaching faculty, allowed to make the punishment for an extremely ambiguous term so black and white? Is it unfair to expect a thoughtful punishment from those who have made reading and writing their profession, just as it is expected from those who made law enforcement theirs? Using my previous example, a court of law would be viewed as unfair for giving the same punishing to both speeders and so should the court of plagiarism for punishing the word-for-word plagiarizer the same as the ignorant plagiarizer. Both may deserve punishment, but certainly not the same punishment.

    An elementary understanding of fairness tells us the 12-year-old candy thief is not the same as the 40-year-old car thief and the driver who carelessly places the lives of children in danger is not akin to one who threatens rabbits and quail. There can be degrees of plagiarism. There can be a system of punishments that suit the literary crime. A mistake, if simply that, can be used as the greatest educational tool; however, in the case of plagiarism, that wide and ambiguous pitfall, it is only an elitist gauntlet that all university students must mercilessly run.

    Brett Beltzer

    history senior

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