Sep 152004
Authors: Stephanie Lindberg

Stealing a car may get a person thrown in jail. Stealing

someone’s words may get him or her thrown out of school.

Whether students have borrowed a phrase without citing a source

or downloaded a paper written by someone else, it is plagiarism

just the same.

“Plagiarism can be horribly embarrassing. It can ruin careers,”

said Marc Johnson, agricultural sciences dean. “Plagiarism has two

faults with it: It’s theft, using someone else’s words and the

second problem is you don’t learn anything. If you come here trying

to get out of work, you kind of miss the point of college.”

Alan Lamborn, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts,

thinks honesty is important for students.

“I think there’s a tendency to push the envelope and (an idea

that) if you don’t get caught it’s okay,” Lamborn said.

Several students agree.

“It’s probably too easy to do,” said Jay Iglehart, a senior

psychology major. “I have teachers that really stress not doing it,

but I don’t think they follow up on it.”

Katie Wilkes, a senior English education major, said she has

never plagiarized.

“I’m sure I do know someone (who has) but I don’t know about

it,” Wilkes said.

While plagiarism occurs on college campuses across the country,

Devlynn Rodriguez, said she thinks of a specific occupation when

she thinks of plagiarism.

“(I think of) usually journalists,” said Rodriguez, a senior

open-option major. “They seem to be the ones that are more apt to

commit it because they do the most writing. That’s what they do for

a living.”

National surveys showing an increase in plagiarism suggest the

evolution of the Internet has had an influence on students looking

for an easy way out of writing a term paper.

“There are national surveys that show it’s a growing problem.

Whether CSU is part of that I just don’t know,” Lamborn said. “The

evolution of the Web has made it far easier for people to

accidentally make mistakes. Whether it’s a big or small problem is

hard to say. I’d say it’s a bigger problem. You’re just used to

copying and pasting.”

Johnson said easy Web access is not an excuse.

“Whether you’re using the Internet or a book you still have the

responsibility to cite the source,” he said.

Johnson has been a teacher and administrator for almost 30 years

and has been at CSU for one year. He during his time at CSU but he

has dealt with the problem before.

“At the time I was a professor (at Kansas State University) I

kept getting a term paper that read the same semester after

semester,” Johnson said.

Administrators deal with neither discipline nor appeals. Lamborn

said he fields calls from faculty when they have questions on the

university policies and are seeking guidance on handling a


“The most important thing is not to jump to conclusions because

students have the legal right to be informed if someone has a

question (on their work),” Lamborn said.

Punishment for students is left up to the instructors. The

Office of Instructional Services Web site,,

lists punishments that range anywhere from failing the course to a

reduced grade for the plagiarized assignment. The Writing Center

Web site,, says that students caught

plagiarizing may be expelled from the university. To dispute a

plagiarism claim a student can contact the Office of Conflict

Resolution and Student Conduct Services.

Johnson said that unintentional plagiarism can be avoided if

students are informed about how to cite sources.

“When you’re writing a term paper there may be ignorance in how

long a citation can be used,” Johnson said. “I’d recommend everyone

get a manual of style and follow useful guidelines for putting

papers together.”

There are many resources for students and faculty about academic

honesty and plagiarism. Tom Maher, director of OIS, said the OIS

Web site can be helpful to students wanting to know more about

CSU’s academic honesty policy.

“We also point people to the Web site for the Writing Center run

by the English department where there are a lot of specific

examples,” Maher said. “On the main page there is one specific link

to plagiarism.”

There is information on how to cite sources correctly at Maher said this is an important thing

for students to know.

“They may not be plagiarizing intentionally,” he said.

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