A C A D E M I C I N T E G R I T Y.
We’ve all heard about it so many times we’ve lost track. EACH and EVERY course dedicates a solid lecture, tutorial or something to telling you about the importance of being academically honest.
If you’ve got half a brain you realize that consequences of cheating are NOT worth the extra trouble to actually do the work. It’s NOT worth failing a course and it’s NOT worth tarnishing your reputation.
IT’S SOOOOO OBVIOUS!
This is why I am mortified beyond belief…
Here’s what happened:
I was applying for something on campus, and they asked to see a sample of my “best professional writing.” Not knowing entirely what “professional writing” is, I settled on an essay I’d done for my English Narratives course. I’m very proud of the essay. I worked really hard on it, and it got me an A. So I thought it was a good representation of my best writing.
The next day I received an email saying there was plagiarism in my essay and that my application was declined. Here’s what I had done:
Instead of saying:
‘‘Specific author named so-and-so said, “Blah blah blah” about this play.’’
‘‘In its early days the play was described as blah blah blah.’’
I had NO clue that the combination of 3 words used to describe the play were said by a specific journalist! I thought that it was just a staple phrase like “once upon a time” or “happily ever after.”
So there I was, in my bedroom, staring angrily at my computer screen.
HOW CAN THEY THINK I PLAGIARIZED? I’m a good student!
I typed up an angry, spiteful response; denying cheating in any way.
I took a ten minute “chill out” break and re-read my email. I noticed just how angry and spiteful it sounded and deleted the whole thing.
I guess it’s time to realize that I’m not in Kansas anymore. In high school, (oh my comparatively tiny, homey high school), I had established a good reputation amongst the staff and students, as a reliable, honest person. Here in university, where nobody knows me, jumping on a table and throwing a tantrum about how unfair life is, and how I’m right and everyone else is wrong, is not going to help.
So I wrote a different email. I assured my correspondent that the error was entirely inadvertent and that I hadn’t realized I could cite the words to a single source. I apologized for my mistake and said I understood why they would decline my application.
Although I still think it isn’t fair, I guess this is a good lesson for the future: Not only in avoiding plagiarism at all costs, but also in dealing with tough, frustrating situations in a professional, composed way. I’m mortified, but I’ve learned a good lesson and I definitely won’t repeat it.