2 minutes for plagiarizing

I have heard of students being suspended for entire semesters or even expelled for plagiarizing, and all I can ask is why does everyone treat it like the plague Howard describes it as? Yes, the internet makes sources more readily available and easier to copy. But honestly, any student willing to pay someone else to do their work for them is probably not going to see that suspension as a punishment or learn anything from it. So tell me, when did universities become the place where the punishment doesn’t fit the crime?

I also think the UD code of conduct on plagiarism is far too strict. Students are going to compare answers and often share notes or work together, yet they fail because it’s deemed plagiarizing. They’re doing the work and told it’s not theirs. There are only so many answers you can get on a lab report or a math problem before people have overlapping submissions. When did teachers become police? Professor Howard certainly thinks people are going too far. “All those who worked to get advanced academic degrees in order to police young adults, please raise your hands. No hands? Then let’s calm down and get back to the business of teaching.” She’s right. Not everyone who ‘plagiarizes’ is copying an entire paper from someone else word for word and just changing the name on the top. The issue is not so black and white. Sometimes people just forget to put quotations around something that isn’t their own.

I really like the fact that a professor is telling people to calm down. She gets it. There’s a whole lot of different circumstances behind cheating or plagiarism. But the punishment should fit the crime, if there is a crime at all, not just a rushed, all-nighter and caffeine induced mistake.

Grammar, ‘Codeswitching,’ and Audience

Personally, I still struggle with grammar today, even as I advance through my professional writing degree. In our class discussion, we talked a lot about grammar rules we dislike, like, can live without, etc. But, I didn’t realize that certain grammar rule can be interpreted by the writer as Curzan describes in her article. I thought it was interesting that she put grammar on the rhetorical platform. For writers, grammar isn’t something to be negotiated. And, maybe that’s the problem!

One of the examples that Curzan uses to make her argument was when one of her colleagues confronted her about telling her students to treat ‘they’ in the singular, which is forbidden. She explains that her students can “break” these rules at the own discretion. It made me think about code switching and audience; it is all connected because the writer must appeal to their audience using grammar and language suited to their audience.

I like that Curzan brings up the point that we can “question everything except Standard English;” which is a problem for most students. Sometimes you have to break the rules to convey a specific message to your audience.

Curzan’s piece reminds me of Bartholomae’s piece on writing for the university. He describes the difficulty students have writing for the university. I believe that students should be able to code switch. He does make a valid point about the professors making their directions clear so that students don’t stray in their writing. But, I think it relates back to grammar and audience.

Whether its breaking a few grammar rules or code switching, no matter what, the writer must know their audience.