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
“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
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, www.ois.colostate.edu,
lists punishments that range anywhere from failing the course to a
reduced grade for the plagiarized assignment. The Writing Center
Web site, writing.colostate.edu, 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
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
There is information on how to cite sources correctly at
www.writing.colostate.edu. Maher said this is an important thing
for students to know.
“They may not be plagiarizing intentionally,” he said.