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Suspended student for plagiarism - Help!!

drake4505drake4505 3 replies2 threads New Member
edited February 2010 in College Admissions
I have been suspended for an academic violation from my university. I had committed a first offense in my junior year where I copied an entire paper from the internet. I was given a warning, and sent on my way. In my second-to-last semester I plagiarized again. However, I feel as though the second instance was different from the first. I want it to be known I am terribly sorry for what happened and I regret it so much. The second time I plagiarized was on a 3 page paper. It was on an analysis of Joseph Conrad's "An Outpost of Progress". The professor had given us a prompt in order to write the essay. I had done genuine research and read many articles on the short story (it is a pretty straightforward story) and came up with basically the same ideas as the sites I visited. I created an originail thesis and multiple arguments based on the prompt given to us. I then copied material (some parts word for word) from a website in a supporting capacity only. The parts that were copied could be divided in two parts. The first part served as a historical component. In the class we had learned about typical late-19th century literature, and I used that part to support my first argument (in the words of another person though). The second part of the short paper was a basic summary of Conrad's short story. Since the copied parts were elements of the public sphere, I did not find it necessary to cite the webpage I read to get the ideas from. I was called in for a hearing and was expelled the first time. With an appeal, I was able to get a reduced sanction (suspension of 2 years). I admit I made a terrbile mistake, but I am wondering if this punishment is a little too harsh. It wasn't as if I didn't do any work on the paper. I believe the thesis and points of argument were the most important part of the paper (I addressed each part of the prompt in an original way) and I modified the information on the webpage to support my claims. If I had just written one little citation, I wouldn't need to post this. Unfortunately, I am in this situation, and I am trying to do something about it. I have moved back home to get a job with a law firm (I've always wanted to pursue a career in law) which I hope will prove that I used my time efficiently and productively. I want nothing more than to graduate from the university I started out at, but 2 years is just an extremely long time to be waiting. Is there any university out there that will accept me to finish my last semester so that I may continue my education? I am very sorry for my mistake and I vow never to do it again. The first offense did not dangle my future in front of me like how the second one did in the form of a potential expulsion. I guess this is what they call maturity. I am not asking for a hand out; I am only asking for a chance to prove myself. If there is any way to screen my work for signs of plagiarism, I would be more than open to that. Also, if I am guilty of any further wrongdoing, I would gladly walk out myself. I am hoping the universities I apply to won't judge me based on my worst actions. I have always heard that education is something that can never be taken away; I am hoping that mine isn't taken away from me.
edited February 2010
27 replies
Post edited by drake4505 on
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Replies to: Suspended student for plagiarism - Help!!

  • drake4505drake4505 3 replies2 threads New Member
    Any feedback and opinions are welcome. Thanks for taking the time out to learn a little about my case!
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  • PeaPea 2378 replies9 threads Senior Member
    It sounds to me like you have a problem. You were caught once and then given a second chance and you went and did it again. If you're given another chance I suspect you'll do the same thing again. You need professional help to find out why you feel the need to push the boundaries the way you do.
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  • mynameisb0bmynameisb0b 163 replies54 threads Junior Member
    Well...you put so much effort into making yourself look as blame-free as possible...I loved your last line, "I have always heard that education is something that can never be taken away; I am hoping that mine isn't taken away from me."

    Though I sympathize with you for the 2 year suspension...it seems strange that a university student like you doesn't know that even if you change a little information from a website, and even if the website is largely public, you must always cite.
    "I modified the information on the webpage to support my claims."
    That, to most all teachers/professors=plagiarism.

    And like Pea said, you screwed up on your second chance, too...that alone says that for some reason, you weren't taking your first mistake too seriously.

    Good luck with colleges anyway...you may get in somewhere if your academic/extracurricular records are pristine otherwise.
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  • amarkovamarkov 2281 replies7 threads Senior Member
    I highly doubt that a university would let you transfer in order to effectively shorten your suspension. So if you want to continue your education, you're probably going to have to just wait the 2 years.

    And while you're doing that, make sure you understand exactly what you did wrong, and how you're going to avoid doing it again. If you are ever ever ever copypasting anything from the internet into a paper with your name on it, you are committing some sort of integrity violation.

    And remember, this isn't something you can just forget once you get out of college. In the real world, taking credit for something you didn't write is a wonderful way to run into all sorts of problems, few of which will go away as quickly as a 2 year suspension.
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  • Beretta9mmBeretta9mm 573 replies26 threads Member
    "I have always heard that education is something that can never be taken away; I am hoping that mine isn't taken away from me"

    But, of course, you don't mind taking away others' educational works through plagiarism.
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  • PeaPea 2378 replies9 threads Senior Member
    I should have wished you good luck also. People survive things like this.
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  • porkpersonporkperson 1948 replies123 threads Senior Member
    "I then copied material (some parts word for word) from a website in a supporting capacity only."

    Isn't that the very definition of plagarism?
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30850 replies198 threads Senior Member
    You got off easy.

    How you got that far in your education without learning how to properly cite sources is beyond me. All you needed to do was to put what you'd copied in quotations and credit the original authors and you would have been fine. Even "public sphere" sources need to be cited!

    My personal advice would be to not use the internet in your research in the future. Stick with hard-paper sources that you can't randomly copy and paste.
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  • Iron MaidenIron Maiden 2036 replies53 threads Senior Member
    OP, do you realize it probably took you longer to write your lengthy post than it would have taken to write the 3 page paper without cheating?

    If you have to write a lengthy explanation of why what you did was not wrong then guess what? It was wrong?

    Time to grow up and take responsibility for your poor choices.
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  • vincehvinceh 2280 replies11 threads Senior Member
    Fascinating story, of course at the end of it my first reaction was, "How much of it is true?"

    First of all, your education hasn't been taken away from you. You still possess all the knowledge and experiences of your 3 1/2 years at your particular college, (regardless of how much work you actually did). In truth, your experiences have given you a "real-world" education that you obviously needed. You haven't lost your education, you have given away your opportunity for a degree. There is a huge difference.

    Second, I can't think of any college, besides maybe a community college or some cash-strapped state school that would take you for one semester and award you a degree in their name. Most likely they would limit the number of transferable credits and require you to take classes for at least a year. I suspect you'd be better off working for a year, keeping in touch with your college and seeing if there was a way to retake the "plagiarized" classes.

    Finally, don't fear too much for your legal career. Combining your well-entrenched situational ethics with a superior ability at parsing the truth makes you uniquely qualified for a career in law.

    Feel free to quote me, though in your case, that would go without saying.
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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama 84339 replies1048 threads Forum Champion
    Is there any university out there that will accept me to finish my last semester so that I may continue my education?

    I don't think the university will stop you from going to another school (unless they've stated that they won't release transcripts - did they?).

    It sounds like they are saying that you have to wait 2 years to finish at THAT school.

    IF you find a school to transfer to, it's likely that they will require that you take X number of credits (probably upper division credits) in order for them to award you a diploma. Colleges generally don't let you just take 15 credits (or so) at their institution and then award you a diploma with their name on it.

    I hope you have finally learned your lesson. You haven't been too convincing. Perhaps you should restate what you did wrong and why you know it was wrong.
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  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom 24049 replies804 threads Senior Member
    It's clear that you plagiarized twice. No, universities won't take away whatever you've learned when you weren't plagiarizing. They can't take that away. Its in your brain.

    It's unlikely that any decent universities will accept you as a transfer considering that you've been suspended for plagiarism, something that universities don't tolerate. Your best bet is waiting out the 2 years before returning to the college that suspended you. During that time, it will be to your benefit to start taking complete responsibility for your mistakes including your not citing Internet sources.
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  • MelodieMelodie 28 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Wow, you plagiarized once and was given a warning and then you did it again?

    I think your best bet is to just wait the 2 years and finish at the same university. I don't think it's possible to transfer for just 1 semester and then get a degree from that school, plus I'm sure any school you could get into would be much worse than your current one. IMO, plagiarizing is the single worst thing you could do in the eyes of admissions.
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  • drake4505drake4505 3 replies2 threads New Member
    Above was my original post, but I figured re-posting it would be better for potential replies. Also, I would like a chance to further explain my situation. My university was an expensive one and highly respected. My parents had invested their life savings into my education as well. I committed the first offense and, like I said above, I didn't see what was really at stake. (I know this isn't the best analogy, but imagine two different card games. One allows the betting of fake money and the other allows real money. The average person may feel much more inclined to bet 100k of imaginary money on a bad hand rather than 100k of real money.) I hope this example can help to convey how I felt the two situations were different. We don't see/appreciate what we have until it's on the verge of being taken away.

    Furthermore, moving on to the case itself, I had found a website that had many of the same ideas I had formed. They were the same because they weren't extremely profound ideas. Basically, I used the first part of the website's material in a historical context. Countless British newspapers and literature written in the late 19th century (1890-1900) comprised of stories glorifying its colonizers and vilified the colonized. In addition to that, prior to reading Conrad's short story, my class read Kipling's "Gunja Din" and "White Man's Burden". These stories only solidified those characteristics. Therefore, I would have already known the typical composition of literary works at that time thus allowing me to construct my essay.

    Secondly, the other half of my essay was a basic summary of Conrad's story. After reading it, I am sure anyone would be able to present the same if not an extremely similar regurgitation of the material. There were only about 4 characters in the entire story, and the satire was obvious. This story is an old one (I wonder how many "original" thoughts are being presented about Shakespeare today - there are only so many ways to analyze a story). Analysis of these classic works share many of the same ideas. Therefore, is it necessary to cite every single article or work analyzing them since the very definition of plagiarism is the copying of ideas? This has led me to believe that the system is flawed especially since we live in an age of information that is readily available with one click. There is no black and white area anymore but more gray shades than ever. Is there no difference in the outright copying of material and the act of doing genuine research and using it to support your own ideas and arguments? If we didn't have states of extent then there would be no difference between killing a man and punching him in the face.

    Not only did the professor claim my paper was 80% plagiarized, but she wrongfully included my original thoughts in that claim. She described it as "using terminology that was never utilized in class" (I do believe there is such a thing as outside research). She also stated in her letter that I had barely addressed any of the questions in the prompt, but I actually did. However, there was no correspondence between us (apparently that is school policy) so I was not able to explain why I wrote what I wrote in the way I wrote it. If this was possible, maybe I could have helped her to see the essay differently.

    I am not saying that I did not use material that wasn't mine, and needless to say, I am terribly sorry. However, I am of the opinion that my sentence was a little harsh, and a two year suspension is unnecessary. I am in the process of getting an internship/job with a law firm so that I may prove to admissions officers that I am committed to my education and I am determined to move on with my career. I would never, ever risk something like this again. The argument that I am not capable of doing the work is not a valid one either because prior to writing the penalized paper, I had just completed my writing intensive component for my major in Political Science (20 pg. paper [Grade:B-]) and a term paper in Sociology (16 pg. paper [Grade: B]) where both papers were properly cited and written. The convicted paper was such a short paper and written immediately after the others. Perhaps this was a contributing factor to my sloppy and hasty writing. Wrong as I was, I don't believe that that one paper should determine the rest of my educational career. Those 3 pages shouldn't equate to a two year suspension along with so many hurdles that I will face when reapplying to school as well as applying to law school in the future, especially since I am extremely sorry for my mistake and I'm trying to get a job in my desired field to prove my commitment. I am hoping that a university will be willing to take a chance on me to prove myself and show that I am sorry and that I have learned from my mistake. I don't need two years to see that I have made a dire mistake that could have been easily avoided. I realize that already. I need a chance to finish my education so that I can go on to provide for me and my future family. After all, don't schools exist to help people better their lives? I have a younger brother getting ready for high school, and money is not an infinite resource in my household. This 3 page paper shouldn't determine the next two years of my life. In fact, it would only hurt me. In reality, after paying full tuition for 3 1/2 years, I still only have a high school diploma. That definitely won't get me a job to make any sort of impact on any outstanding bill I may have at my school plus sustain me for two years. Again I am so sorry for what I did, it will never happen again, and I am a firm believer of education being one of the single most important opportunities and advantages in life. You never see how the other side lives until you walk a day in their shoes.

    *I should also note that I have completed all of my Political Science major requirements.
    **I was planning to take two more philosophy classes for a minor in Philosophy in a semester of all electives.
    ***I would like to apply to another school for Fall 2010 because I feel like 2 years is just an extremely long time to be out of school. If anyone has any information on schools that would consider my application, please let me know as it would be greatly appreciated.

    Any comments, questions, or thoughts on my situation would be greatly appreciated. Personal messages are also welcome. Thanks for taking the time out to learn a little about my case. Have a great day!
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  • DroughtDrought 800 replies7 threads Member
    I cannot offer any advice. I have never been in your situation and I hope I never will be. I do realize there is a thin line between plagiarism and honest corroboration of ideas. I do understand your plight. One of my very good friends from my high school was expelled in second semester of junior year for his second plagiarism offense even though he never actually *copy-pasted* a paper from the internet. My school's plagiarism policies are draconian and unforgiving, and I can see how a generally honest person could get screwed over. I suspect many universities have similarly unreasonable plagiarism policies. I hope everything works out for you. Good luck.
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  • NesterNester 805 replies57 threads Member
    After reading your second post, I find myself wondering if you fully understand what constitutes plagiarism and why it is wrong. Please have a trusted, objective person read whatever appeals material or applications to other universities you prepare to be sure you aren't shooting yourself in the foot with ill-advised justifications and explanations.
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  • Beretta9mmBeretta9mm 573 replies26 threads Member
    ^You know, his foot is already bleeding, so the only thing we can do for him now is to offer ways to fix up that wound.
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  • ArtemisDeaArtemisDea 625 replies18 threads Member
    1) You plagiarized. Twice. I don't care, and the University certainly shouldn't care that you didn't realize the consequences of plagiarizing. You committed one of the most reprehensible crimes in academia and you deserve every ounce of punishment.

    2) Regardless of how "extremely similar" you think an original paper would be to the one you plagiarized, you still COPIED SOMEONE ELSE'S WORK and presented it as your own.

    *I especially despise this point of your "argument" because as anyone who loves writing and the English language knows, every writer has his or her own voice. Even covering the same material, the knowledge, skill, and depth of experience of each writer shines through each piece. My best friend and I could write on the exact same topic and still have recognizably different papers. You stole someone else's voice in writing and claim it's okay because, hey, the material was so common and boring!

    3) I have a fundamental belief (however admittedly judgmental and unsupported) that once a habitual plagiarizer, always a habitual plagiarizer. I can't imagine the other "gray areas" you've exploited throughout your academic experience.

    I don't think you're going to find much sympathy here.
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  • NesterNester 805 replies57 threads Member
    Beretta -- I realize that the foot is bleeding, and I'm sorry that the OP finds himself in this painful position. But the OP seems to attribute the wound to the university's perceived overreaction to his plagiarism and not to the plagiarism itself.
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  • YurtleYurtle 828 replies22 threads Member
    You know, his foot is already bleeding, so the only thing we can do for him now is to offer ways to fix up that wound.

    Yes. The OP's foot is bleeding. But the OP's foot is bleeding after the gun handling trainer [the school] told the OP not to mess around with guns. The OP didn't listen, and then proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot.

    This was no one's fault but the OP's, and they were warned. I don't see why this has to be a 'please sympathize with me!' thread especially since it's clear they didn't learn the first AND second time.

    Plagarism is, at many schools, an expelling offense. Be glad you were so lucky as to get off with a mere suspension after committing the offense twice.
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