Sunday, September 21, 2008


I spent three and a half years at MacEwan, with a year of the University of Alberta in the middle. They both claimed to punish those who plagiarized. For some reason the U of A put the fear of god into me on that topic, more than anything anyone said to me while I was at MacEwan.
I remember staying after class one day to ask my TA if I was going to get in trouble for not citing a source from one of the movies we watched in class (it was a Film and Media Studies class). Boy was I nervous. I was hoping to all hell that they weren't going to kick me out of school for making a small mistake like that. The U made it clear that if they kicked you out, no other self-respecting school would allow you in either. Many of my classmates said that their professors made them submit papers through websites that had databases of papers and would check for plagiarism that way. This, of course, is really scary. What if, by pure chance and probability, you had the same sources as a student from last year? What if he highlighted parts of the book, so you noticed them, and used the same information? Is this plagiarism? Would you get expelled for it? These things seriously worried me. I made myself a system that, if followed precisely, would prevent me from inadvertently plagiarizing off of a website source.
Then, I get back to MacEwan, start a new program, get the ‘Don’t plagiaries’ speech at the start of each class, so I take it seriously. I use my same precautions, be extra careful. Then in my fourth year of post secondary, only a couple classes away from getting a Diploma and getting out of school, I’m in a group with three other people who are not from Canada. Their English is shitty at best. One of them disappears back to Mexico, I think someone died, but who knows. The other two are smart, but really, can’t put a proper English sentence together to save their lives. Obviously I’m in charge of putting the paper together because, well, I have a grasp on the language. So I’m reading, editing, trying to figure out what the hell this girl is trying to say and then magic. A perfect sentence. Not just perfect, extraordinary. Professionally written even. Hmm…. red flag much? So, I copy it into Google, I mean, what other choice do I have? And oh look. There it is.
I send an e-mail to the professor. I mean, I don’t want her kicked out, but I certainly want something done. When I talked to her she didn’t understand the seriousness of the issue, she didn’t care. Really, why should she? She fucks up she goes back to China, the world moves on, ok, no Canadian education, but it’s not like she’s going to integrate properly anyway. She fucked up, I get blamed, I just wasted $35,000, four years, and can’t get any more education because of the huge black mark on my folder. The professor never responded in any way. I don’t know if she ever spoke to the girl. The other students at MacEwan wondered why I was taking it so seriously.
I'm guessing the University makes you believe it because they believe it, while MacEwan just claims they do because they have to.

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