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Academia, Love Me Back (vivatiffany.wordpress.com)
147 points by gluxon 267 days ago | hide | past | web | 85 comments | favorite



Interestingly this happened to me and to my younger brother.

There was no racial component to it although we do belong to a religious minority, come from low-income backgrounds and were homeschooled. I personally felt some prejudice at various times on account of these characteristics.

In my case I was a 16 year old high school dropout taking a history class at a Junior College. My prof had a lengthy conversation basically trying to get me to admit my parents wrote an essay for me and eventually gave up, although clearly unconvinced.

In my brothers case a few years later (different college, different prof) I believe he was given a zero on a test and had to file a grievance to be able to redo the work or retake the test. This is circa 2000 so my memory is a bit fuzzy.

In both our cases there was no evidence - just the perceived mismatch between our presentation and ability prompted the accusations. (We were bookworms and in a family of bookworms despite being poor and lower class.)

My only comment and the only relevance to the linked story is I remember how OUTRAGED I felt at the accusation. It wasn't even the accusation of cheating - that I would be dishonest. It was the condescension, the implied "obviously you are not good enough to have produced this" attitude that hurt the most. In my case the professor was obviously trying to give me a break and be friendly but I remember how hurt I was and in my brother's case... I don't think he would ever speak to the prof again.

Being judged incapable of producing your own work BURNS.


> My prof had a lengthy conversation basically trying to get me to admit my parents wrote an essay for me and eventually gave up, although clearly unconvinced.

Couldn't she have spent the time talking to you about history and confirming your analytical and literacy skills were up to the required standard?


>Being judged incapable of producing your own work BURNS.

Or you could take it as that you are so much better than your class mates that your work stands out as being exceptional. This is a huge complement.

I used to be a professor and I can tell you plagiarism is rampant. When a student hands in a work that is far above their peers you are suspicious. I would never accuse a student of cheating without evidence, but I have asked many about their work to ascertain if they had actually produced the work themselves. In every case where I was suspicious (around 20), the person did not have the slightest clue about what they had supposedly written. Professors are cynical for a reason.


As you said, It might be racism, however I think people use the "racism" card too quickly to explain what might actually be a dumb/lazy/antisocial teacher.

My related experience anecdote was as a 2nd or 3rd grader. I made some poem as a class project and had the line "in some foggy old latrine" and my teacher accused me of making up the word "latrine" and refused to believe me when I said it was a military toilet. (I wasn't some super literary, I just heard the word used enough on the tv show MASH)

So frustrating and hurtful to be accused like that, but I am pretty sure it wasn't racism. Just a clueless teacher who reacted the wrong way.


I had the same experience in high school, I assume it was because I thought English as it was taught was total garbage, so I obviously didn't show any interest in class.

Was really weird being accused of plagiarism for something I knew I wrote. I mostly didn't care enough to contest it though.


We (as outsider observers) lack the evidence to judge this story objectively. It sucks to be unfairly accused of plagiarism (it happened to me once in high school).

However, we don't know why the professor came to the conclusion that she plagiarised. Maybe they jumped to conclusions on limited evidence, or maybe this paper was written with vocabulary and sentence structure which was inconsistent with the student's earlier work. Either way, it's incredibly unlikely that an academic professor of sociology would be a closet racist.

tl;dr It's unfair to be accused of plagiarism for submitting a paper which sounds "too intelligent", but it's also unfair to be accused of racism for attempting to enforce academic standards.

Unfortunately, this a story which is going to press the internet's hot buttons.


One of the benefits of being someone else is we have the luxury of not experiencing her pain.

When I read this piece, I immediately flashed back to my first week of college, decades ago.

Apparently on the basis of my entrance essay, the school decided I should skip English 101 and placed me in ENGL102 the first semester. When we received the first assignment (a criticism and synopsis of some article I don't remember) back from the professor, held back the two he thought were the best to ask those students to read them to the class as examples of what he wanted to see.

It was too early for him to know our names so he called the first name and gave that student his paper to read. Then he called my name and I raised my hand. I'm black. He did an obvious double-take, looked down at the paper to verify that he had picked up the right one, then looked up, raised his eyebrows slightly and brought it to me. It was impossible to miss the subtext and I just stared at him for a few seconds, then shrugged internally and read the damn thing.

You don't always have the benefit of knowing all sides to a story, but often, even knowing only one side, conclusions can be drawn fairly accurately.


The fact that you're being down voted means you're absolutely correct about two things: that 1) this is a very emotionally charged story and emotionally charged pieces are hard to discuss civilly, and 2) we as commenter cannot truly judge the situation, especially with only one side speaking out. The rest I don't know about - it seems definitely possible that the professor could be a racist, I don't know why you would say it is 'incredibly unlikely'.

I'd say the professor was wrong in this situation no matter what happened for publicly humiliating a student and also thinking one suspicious word warrants an accusation of plagiarism. However there is nothing in the article that indicates that the professor was specifically targeting her for her race, other than 'I deal with racism every day'. Without knowing more about the situation it's hard to say more. Despite this, there's quite a few comments in this thread already that seem emotionally loaded.

Think about it this way: A while ago an article was posted about discrimination against conservative Christians in academia, and some of the discussion here was appallingly hypocritical; the same kinds of people advocating diversity in race, culture, and thought were openly admitting that they don't think Christians, as a group, should be allowed in decision-making processes, because they're obviously all gullible idiots. Does that mean when I go for my PhD I would be justified in writing my own teary blog post should someone act condescending and rude to me? Would I be justified regardless of whether the discrimination was real or perceived? Would such a post be received with positive feedback? Would I be allowed to call academia 'completely broken'?


> However there is nothing in the article that indicates that the professor was specifically targeting her for her race, other than 'I deal with racism every day'. Without knowing more about the situation it's hard to say more. Despite this, there's quite a few comments in this thread already that seem emotionally loaded.

It seemed pretty clear that the author is drawing an inference that "not your language" means "you don't speak English well enough to use this word or write like this," and therefore, that the author was cheating. I think that is a reasonable inference given the context provided, assuming it's all truthful.


"It seemed pretty clear that the author is drawing an inference that "not your language" means "you don't speak English well enough to use this word or write like this,""

It's not clear. Your own bias makes you think that's clear. The alternative is that the instructor believes it's plagiarism. This means they thinks they've seen what's in front of them before exactly as worded in uncommon scenario or they sees an odd discrepancy between that paper and prior work of hers. Several people have already showed up in the comments pointing this out with one person catching real cheaters using this method. That validates it's a hypothesis that must be ruled out as we determine what caused the decision.

Unfortunately, we don't have enough data to do that. All we can be sure of was their evidence appears weak, how they handled it should get them reprimanded/fired, and we only heard one side of the story by an individual with extreme bias on this sort of thing which pervades the whole article. So, I'd like to hear what the professor or other people there said about that event, the professor, and her. Past that, I have to address it conditionally like "If professor did this, then it might have been reasons X or Y with terrible corrective action taken. Source leans toward X based on personal experiences but no data to support either."

Note: There's also other forms of discrimination based on language besides race in terms of what you expect of different kinds of skill levels, institutions, local dialects, etc. I've had many experiences with discrimination based on how I write or speak from white and black people of both genders with women doing it much more to me than men. In the white cases, race usually had no element in it since I'm white but they were still judgmental pricks with their own biases with impact on my future. It's why I'm pro-merit and anti-superficial.

Edit: Had to change some pronouns because my own bias made me assume something. Bias is that sneaky!


You're arguing past him.

The author believes that the professor is racist, and writes as if it is true.

That's all that the above poster really said. It's not an indiciation that anyone believes that this is true.


I hate retractions but you're probably right. I was reading so many comments that I missed one set of words in that one: "was cheating." Changes meaning of whole comment. So, my elaboration of the points makes sense but totally wrong comment to drop them. Thanks for counter as I sometimes make these mistakes doing too much at once. :)


it's incredibly unlikely that an academic professor of sociology would be a closet racist.

That's probably true in the sense of using racial slurs or joining the KKK or something like that, but IME of academia in grad school as an adjunct, lots of people are paternalistic or condescending—often without quite realizing that they are (which would be consistent with the original article).

Efforts to be culturally sensitive can also backfire in incredible, spectacular ways (for example: https://jakeseliger.com/2014/12/22/how-do-you-know-when-your...).


These sort of discussions always bother me, for a few reasons

1. There's no such thing as a single reason for doing anything. Humans are too complex for that. So to frame this as a question of "she did it because of race" vs "race has nothing to do with it" is naive at best.

2. It's more or less impossible for anyone to be unaffected by race. Sociology professors are no exception. When you meet someone you've never met before, you can't (no matter how hard your try) encounter a "blank slate" of a person. Your brain would be dangerously inefficient if you didn't jump to conclusions for superficial reasons literally all the time.

Taken together, this means:

3. Clearly race had something to do with it. This shouldn't be a question. The question is exactly how much did it have to do with it.


Maybe not an active KKK-rally attending racist, but a soft racist? There's a reason why two identical resumes for post-graduate work get rated differently when the names are "Chad" vs "Shaniqua".

The fact is, when you really get down to it, most people are subconsciously racist. Not a joke - most people. There have been studies on it and everything.


If you replace the names with "MIT" and "mediocre four-year institution that no-one ever heard of" suddenly it becomes less straightforward. Race is a proxy for education, and that's where the real injustice is.


Race is not just a proxy for education. Racism affects Asian-Americans, despite their good educational track record as a broad group; African immigrants, despite the fact that Nigerian immigrants and Nigerian-Americans make up the immigrant group with the largest number of PhDs per capita in the US immigrant landscape; and British immigrants, who everyone thinks are smart because of the accent (despite no better educational attainment than anyone else).

The real injustice is that my black students cannot earn or learn their way out of being black in America. A Caltech education doesn't help when you're pulled over by the cops. This blogger's ability to use "Hence" in a literature review won't help either.


"The fact is, when you really get down to it, most people are subconsciously racist. Not a joke - most people."

If this is true, why the moral outrage towards the professor?


Because everyone has some amount of racism whether they realise it or not but it still is not acceptable to display that racism. Sure having some racist thoughts isn't great but just like with almost every other unacceptable topic, everybody thinks about it sometime. It is only a problem when it becomes verbal/affecting others. That is why people are upset with him.


1) Polite people try to cover up their racism; it's not socially acceptable in the US. This is not the case in all countries -- I've been in other countries where certain levels are racism are really still A-OK. For instance, in some Scandinavian countries it's not unusual to have a housing contract that says the place can't be rented or sold to Roma/Gypsies. Few people see anything wrong with that -- it's something you just obviously wouldn't want to happen!

2) The professor should be better at their job (I say as a prof). I accuse students of plagiarism only if I have proof, and the last 4 times it's happened I've been able to highlight passages and provide the citation of the original paper, with the page number. Or I can show the student their peer's paper with the same exact sentences and typos. I'm sure it's plagiarism. If I can't prove it, I poke around. I ask the student to come in and describe their process to me, talk through their notes. This works. People crack, or they reveal their legit process. Sometimes that legit process includes a crappy first draft that got immensely better via four sessions with the Writing Center. Great. Sometimes their not-quite-legit process involves too much help from their girlfriend. Then we have a talk about what's appropriate and how they can rectify the situation.


Because the professor is in a position of power and they abused that power because of their biases. Prejudice is far more damaging when paired with power than without. It is injustice. If injustice is not worth moral outrage, what is?


If we're all racist, and that racism is enough to condemn any of us at the whim of someone else, what's the point in trying to not be racist?


Unlike many other animals, humans have the capacity for abstract thought, moral consideration, and behavior not entirely driven by instinct.

As such, we can recognize the harmful effect of fallacies such as racial prejudice, both on ourselves and on society as a whole, and utilize our ability as sentient beings to avoid such behavior.


> Either way, it's incredibly unlikely that an academic professor of sociology would be a closet racist.

Just as unlikely as a priest being a pedophile.


No matter the context in which the professor came to the conclusion of plagiarism, the public shaming remains a terrible thing.

It is simply never OK to try and put someone down, even more so when you are someones administrative superior.


> Either way, it's incredibly unlikely that an academic professor of sociology would be a closet racist.

Your priors are naive. To be honest.


You should see the comment section of that web site. I read them all since I like watching people's behavior in these things. Her audience is mostly people 100% agreeing with her interpretation of things with a clear message: "any counterpoints are people clueless about racism esp if it's white people and all whites might as well shut up anyway since it's inconceivable for them to have ever felt something similar regardless of circumstances." [1] There's recurring patterns in the responses vs what I see in similar articles' comments that effectively cause censorship where there's little argument as the comments have total dismissal built in to them. In this case, unless I missed on, there was no argument after the first counterpoint posted by each commenter. So censorship worked to point one skin color and one gender were pushed out of being heard commenting on an article that's about people of non-dominant, skin colors and/or genders not being heard with any credibility.

As disgusting and racist as the kinds of haters they claim to oppose. About the only one that seemed especially fair among the supporters of her claims was one claiming the post itself might be highly-biased due to it being a catharsis of sorts that may lead to a constructive response to her situation she hasn't elaborated on. I could easily see that possibility being it's her personal blog & she left identifying information off. Past that, I knew I shouldn't comment as specific people there would disqualify it on color/gender, imply I couldn't conceive similar things, imply the stated bias was true since it was a minority that claimed to experience it, and drag me into a bunch of tangents unrelated to data original source provided. That's what they did to the others. Hence, my suspicion it would happen to me.

[1] I review this from perspective of a white male who grew up in mostly black areas where hating on whites was norm and redneck areas that weren't big on intellectual or "soft" types. I experienced subtle and overt racism + discrimination constantly that hurt my education, cost me jobs, got me targeted by authority figures more, got me served last at lunch lines, question whether I was the problem, etc. So, I have to work extra hard maintaining balance and rational approach to reviewing stuff when the comments basically act like I never experienced that or play it off as existential vs circumstantial or some other nonsense. Yes, we do experience it with those of us in minority areas experiencing it at the level of blacks except there's more beatdowns of us and murder in general. That they keep pretending we don't despite our claims and journal introspection being almost identical to theirs is itself a form of racism. I always point that out in case someone assumes I'm a white, suburban guy from middle class home in a white area going to college on a football scholarship or something.


I side with the student. This is beyond a jerk move.

To be clear, the beyond a jerk move part is doing this in front of the class with such flimsy evidence. I have see this before. It happened to a black woman friend. In this case the professor's flimsy evidence was a shift in tone which happens in editing all the time.

That said, hence is an adverb and not a conjunction. Hence there is no comma after hence. BTW, this punctuation mistake argues strongly against plagiarism.


This is not a uniformly accepted rule. Commas are common after adverbs such as therefore, nevertheless, and hence. There is no mistake here.


You might be right. She may have used hence in the conjunctive adverb sense.

Having looked it up a bit, it still goes both ways. The argument against the comma is that if hence is a transitional word then you would omit the comma. If you feel the need for a pause then you would insert it.

So it's a fielder's choice and not a mistake.


This is a truly well-written piece, and it accomplished everything it set out to describe without a diatribe or personal attack on the anonymous professor.

Considering how viciously accusations and personal vendettas can be carried out online, I think it's a great mark of character that she refrained from such tactics and explained the injustice she felt in a levelheaded way.


It somehow feels that we are missing the other side of this emotionally charged post. I just used the word "hence" in a previous HN comment, but realize that I rarely use this word in verbal conversation.

However, this doesn't excuse the alleged behaviour of the professor in the article. When making a plagiarism accusation, is it common to call this out openly without attempting to address 1-1 first in academic settings?


Is it common to accuse a student of plagiarism without, oh, I don't know, actual evidence?

You know, like the fruits of searching Google for five seconds to try and locate "the offending phrase"?

What kind of a fucking fossil can't be bothered to at least substantiate their bigotry instead of ranting themselves out of a job? (And no, tenure doesn't cover obvious failure to abide by university policies. Of course it could just as well have been some adjunct making $8/hour)

"Hey there, you with the beaner name. I have absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing on your part, so go fetch me some"

What a twit. I'm not a particularly nice person and have no problem failing students who won't put in the work, but this is beyond the pale.


I've never heard of such a thing, but perhaps that's because I am in a UK university. We have a formal procedure for dealing with such things, which certainly doesn't involve public humiliation. It also provides students the chance to defend themselves, which is obviously missing here.


There's a formal process at this girl's school as well, I'm sure.


Indeed. She seems to be jumping to the conclusion that her prof thought she would not use that word. When I first read it I assumed he meant that someone else had written that sentence that way before.

If she is right then what he did was heinous. If I'm right then what she did was pretty bad too.


> This morning, my professor handed me back a paper (a literature review) in front of my entire class and exclaimed “this is not your language.” On the top of the page they wrote in blue ink: “Please go back and indicate where you cut and paste.” The period was included.

How are you possibly interpreting this passage as not an accusation of plagiarism?


I've always been, and to this day continue to be, a poor speller. Hence my prepared writing is always a bit more erudite than my casual spoken communication or even my in class exam answers. I simply don't trust that I'm spelling a word like "erudite" properly without the help of spell-check. Is it really so odd that someone would use a phrase in academic writing unusual in their other forms of discourse?

Its a terrible thing to be falsely accused. Especially so when it is by a person in authority and in front of others and when the accuser has the power to issue a grade. I hope that this article helps professors deal more sensitively with their concerns over plagiarism in the internet age.


I've had professors do this to me. I don't understand what's wrong with this. This is a common thing I even do when grading programming assignments. When I notice a stylistic choice that is outside of the norm for the students I can usually tell exactly who the work came from. Every semester I catch at least one group of cheaters (This semester I caught two!) and they admit to it after I confront them with it.

"Hence" is fairly common in modern English, but is it common in the writings of this student?

One such example of this is that one of my students used a "while not in" loop which they had never done before. I looked at it puzzled for a second and then went "wait a minute, one of my other students used this in every lab since we introduced the while statement". I pull up the code, compare it, and BAM! I've got a match.

Just because something is possible/correct in a language and that the person wiring the piece has every bit of ability to use the complex structure at had it doesn't mean they would normally do so. Sure it's not accurate, and sure you may not be right with every call (hasn't happened to me yet but other TAs have called people out and have turned out to be wrong), but it's something that I'd call a "clue" that something is different.

Either the student put more time into the work and found a better/alternate way of approaching the problem, the student asked a friend to help with describing the structure (or in this case what wording to use), or in the only case that presents malice: they copied it.

The only way you can find out is by going to the student and confidently saying something to the effect of "I know you've engaged in some questionalbe academic behavior, this is your time to explain yourself before I contact my boss and have them run a more though investigation". Cheaters usually crack instantly. (pro-tip for anyone on the outside who is cheating: just lie to us, we're probably not going to follow up unless it's extremely obvious if you've got a 1/4 way decent explanation).

I see nothing wrong with this. Just talk to the professors boss and they'll sort it out. This is especially true for cases where you actually did write the work.

Also, I highly doubt anyone questions the intellect of the writer. They are obviously a gifted person.


The only way you can find out is by going to the student and confidently saying something to the effect of "I know you've engaged in some questionalbe academic behavior, this is your time to explain yourself before I contact my boss and have them run a more though investigation". Cheaters usually crack instantly. (pro-tip for anyone on the outside who is cheating: just lie to us, we're probably not going to follow up unless it's extremely obvious if you've got a 1/4 way decent explanation).

For some reason, I immediately thought of that popular video: "Don't talk to the police." Today, I'd probably assume that if you're fishing for a confession, then you don't have any evidence, and your "boss" doesn't exist. For instance, when I was an adjunct, I didn't have support like that from my department.

What I don't know is how I'd have reacted as a college student with less confidence and street smarts, and with a possibly justifiable fear of antagonizing a teacher.


> For some reason, I immediately thought of that popular video: "Don't talk to the police." Today, I'd probably assume that if you're fishing for a confession, then you don't have any evidence, and your "boss" doesn't exist.

Absolutely. Never talk to me either. Never talk to the professor. Tell them "an investigation is better as it will prove your innocence and resolve the issue more quickly then my explanations will" and walk away if you did cheat. If the prisoners dilemma all over again especially since it takes 2 to cheat in most cases.

> For instance, when I was an adjunct, I didn't have support like that from my department.

I'm different in that I'm not a professor, I help teach and grade a class so I work underneath a professor who allows me to lecture some times and help guide the class but it's not "my" class. As a grader I see all the students work and as an attentive grader I memorize the students names and styles. When I catch a cheater I email my boss and the professor I work under and they advise me on what to do (which is usually to allow me to write my strongly worded letter of doom that anyone who's done something iffy on the internet has received once or twice). The policy in this programming class is that it's not cheating if you credit each other with parts of the work you've done but the less astute observers won't remember that and will try and hide their work.

> What I don't know is how I'd have reacted as a college student with less confidence and street smarts, and with a possibly justifiable fear of antagonizing a teacher.

Some of these kids are in other classes I'm taking and they are still afraid when I bring it up. It's the fear that I will involve the administration that works here. The carrot or the stick. They assume I'm the carrot and I'm going to just mark them zero if they fess up. They assume that the school is the stick and they will get the full penalty.

If it were up to me any cheating would be handled officially through the university but that isn't our SOP. We find cheaters usually fail. As such we just tell them "we know and we are going to give you a 0 for this and next exam". That usually deters cheating as they need to retake the class then.


That's interesting. I suspect a grader with your level of interest and diligence is a rare bird.

While in college, my writing style changed from week to week, as I was influenced by professors, my readings, and so forth. That was in my humanities courses. I didn't take any programming courses while in college.

I'm kind of glad that I finished college before the Internet age. I never cheated, but am glad that I didn't have to work in such an adversarial atmosphere.

I'm sure it's not your intention, but "stop and accuse" sounds a lot like "stop and frisk." It sounds like a recipe for abuse.


part of the problem is public shaming

    > This morning, my professor handed me back a paper (a literature review) in front of my entire class and exclaimed “this is not your language.”
While it's reasonable to ask someone if they've plagiarized, asking that person about it in public in front of their classmates is mean-spirited.


There is also something about the extreme emphasis on 'this is not your word'. Much like the public shaming, it suggests the professor is not just displeased, but viscerally outraged.


You may not know this but it is an offensive thing to see a student fail or cheat to get out of failure. It's not right to get mad about it but that doesn't change the fact that it does happen.

I try not to get mad and I try to be as objective as possible but after I know for sure it is very disappointing. It's a reflection of my abilities I feel.


I usually confront the student by asking them to speak to me after class in front of the entire class. It's not shaming as in reality no one cares, everyone knows no one cares, and most students in shitty classes do it. There is one class at my university that students cannot pass without old exams. The teacher doesn't rotate questions and doesn't talk about anything on the exams so it's useless to pay attention. It's basically a study/homework session at school that's a given C to B because you know all the questions on the exam.

Everyone cheats in some way. What I am concerned about is disingenuous cheating where a student obviously is preforming poorly in non-adverse conditions and decides to take it upon themselves to rectify the situation in a non-productive manor.


> Just because something is possible/correct in a language and that the person wiring the piece has every bit of ability to use the complex structure at had it doesn't mean they would normally do so. Sure it's not accurate, and sure you may not be right with every call (hasn't happened to me yet but other TAs have called people out and have turned out to be wrong), but it's something that I'd call a "clue" that something is different.

So the next time your write an HN comment and don't misspell "hand" we will know that you've plagiarized.


I've got pretty bad dislexia as noted by my professors, colleges, and highschool teachers. It's extremely hard for me to write something without spelling errors. So in fact yes it's entirely plausible to use that to identify my speech.


So if you make an effort to correct mistakes due to your dyslexia it actually means you plagiarized your work?


I've never been able to correctly spell every word in an essay I've ever handed in. It's not impossible to correct this but when I correct this the rest of my writing style will not change. One of the assignments in the CS track at my college is text analysis. From extremely basic identifies you can tell approximately who wrote some text. Even just by counting "a" and "an" you can discern the author.

Unfortunately some people don't seem to understand that there is a correlation between vocabulary, work flow, word choice, and the writer.


or "writing" instead of wiring


You can find out with a less accusatory attitude, as well, if there has never been questionable behavior before. "Tell me about your process. Can you show me any notes or drafts? Discuss this paragraph with me. Without looking at the paper, can you explain what you're trying to say with this argument?"

Whether they wrote it themselves comes out pretty quickly, even if they won't admit to cheating. If a student can't explain his or her work, then you have a basis for giving a lower grade or pressing on the cheating accusation.


We tried that recently with one of our students. You can definitely tell who is a cheater right off the bat based on their attitude in class. The kind of student who is driven to understand the world around them is not the kind of student who needs to cheat to obtain this knowledge.

After the recent midterm we gave out for one of my students I received two copes of the exam, one had a 20pts higher grade. Due to errors made on our side of the line it seemed as if the student had taken the exam, left a room, and taken it again at another room to score higher. We thought as soon as we saw him that he was a nice kid and so we should go lighter on him. All it did was freak the kid out. He couldn't make full sentences without stuttering because he thought we knew he was cheating.

I think this falls on a fault of our own. We didn't ask the right questions--the professor and I. We asked "did you take two copies of the exam" and he said yes, we then asked "did you change rooms" and he didn't respond, he just looked confused. We took him to my boss and my boss just gave him the exams and said "can you explain this". After that the kid went and explained exactly what happened.

I don't know if it's coming across correctly but basically we lead him into telling us he cheated. We "knew" that he cheated when it was really an error on our side. My boss was level headed and just said that we would start an investigation into cheating if he cannot explain himself and tell us what happened that day. When given the change rather then asked leading questions he was better able to articulate himself. It's my opinion now that asking any questions is a horrible idea for confronting a cheater. You just need to tell them what information you have and how this is going to be bad for them and they can fill in the blanks otherwise you will have accidentally lead them into a trap where they say they did something that they obviously didn't do as in the case of this student.


What you did makes sense. This is the standard two tier laboratory testing process. The first screening test is cheap with some false positives. The second confirmation test is more troublesome but more accurate.

The professor did the first and evidently only the first.


Handing back a scored paper would probably be one of the ways I'd test for a written plagiarism. If the student gets mad at me and fights then they didn't plagiarizer. It's the presumed nature of humans to want to fight back when wrongly accused of something--even more so when you're found guilty of something. I'd accept a rebuttal saying that's not a correct model for every student and as such I'd find it evenly as "not-suspicious" if the person went to my boss or the dean and asked for them to get the points back.

If the student does nothing then I'd assume they did copy.

I'm sure people will be mad about these assumptions but from my experience--and from what I've seen my colleges fall into after wrongly accusing someone of cheating--I'd definitely say this is an appropriate average model. I'd also say it's lived to fruition in this case. The author got mad and wrote a fantastic expose on this situation. If I was the professor I'd correct what was obviously my mistake at this point.


In my view, the problem with using psychological manipulation tactics, is that it abuses the asymmetrical relationship between the teacher and the student. I think it would be more ethical for the teacher to simply lay their cards on the table. If they have evidence, present it directly, otherwise wait for another day.


The problem here is that you are effectively punishing students who have done nothing wrong. This is a great way to get an uncooperative class who don't really care about the work beyond the grade they get at the end.


Again, I've never caught a student who didn't admit to it. Those who have apologize and restore credit.

The student is usually happier to have that it seems since they get to say "I fought the law and the law didn't win" to their friends and classmates. The teacher does look like an idiot to the class after that though.

It may well come a time when I make the same mistake but at that point I'll be excited to admit I was wrong and restore credit. I'm not ashamed at failing myself, only know-it-all-do-nothings are afraid of ruining their street cred.


This is crazy. If the story is true as written, the academic in question needs to be fired. I would expect nothing less at my own University.

I find the story hard to believe only because it is so terrible -- and that an academic would be stupid enough to accuse a student of plagiarism without concrete evidence (in particular, the text from which they plagiarised). However, even if the academic in question had such evidence, they still should give the student the chance to defend themselves.


There is a lot I feel like I can get done at my university. Outrage will do a lot.

That said, I know of a few professors that could get away with this shit. There are always a few professors that are thoroughly entrenched.


First rule: Institutions can never love you back.

http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/5/9/2281

Simone's Maxims are possibly the best piece of career advice anyone ever gave me.

At least she's learning this early in the game. She's clever and tough and will either go far or be smart enough to make much more money at a real job.

Her prof? Not so much.


That's a great link, thank you!


Please share it with everyone who might benefit.

Be the change you want to see in the world ;-)

(Ha ha only serious. Being an idealist made me cynical. Then it brought me back again. In the end we only have each other, those who we live and love and work with, in this world. It may as well be the best world we can make it.)


Everyone in academia should internalize it


It looks like the professor pulled a jerk move, jumping to conclusions based on scant evidence. Yet the writer seems to conclude that happened because of her ethnicity, without offering any evidence to support that. Maybe the professor is just a presumptuous jerk who pulls that with students regardless of their race, sex or ethnicity.

I'm not saying that's the case, because I have no evidence either way.


Maybe the professor pulls that stuff on people without conscious regard to gender, socioeconomic status, or ethnicity, but in the context of longstanding explicit and implicit discrimination, I'm not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt that all of his students are equally likely to get called out. Ask your brown friends if they've ever been pulled out for a "random" screening by the TSA.


Wow. Just, wow. "This is not your word"??? Even when I stretch my charitable suspension of disbelief to its absolute limit I cannot come up with any interpretation of that phrase that is even remotely defensible.


Well, if taken out of context supplied by the author of the article, "This is not your word" could be interpreted as an observation that there is a phrase that does not fit the style of writing of the piece as a whole. That would make it constructive criticism.


Never trust just one side of a story. Never.


Her post is largely vacuous and superficial. Why? Because it doesn't really provide any evidence that would help the reader understand what really happened. Most of it consists of descriptions of her feelings, uncorroborated accusations, tired ideological slogans, a pervasive self-pity, and the presumption of racism. Add to that the other interesting bits in the article such as how she demands to be recognized as an "academic" even though she isn't even a graduate student. What delusion! The topic of the essay also suggests she's been indoctrinated with the ideology of resentment, one that recently has taken on a frightening degree of irrationality on college campuses in the US. Many of these people require psychological help and should not be roaming around college campuses where they quickly find convenient scapegoats for their issues and rationalize their choices.

Also, it's not like she's going against the grain here. Academia, especially where the humanities are concerned, is overwhelmingly leftist in this country. An accusation of racism in one of these departments is socially damning. If she were a conservative Catholic arguing in defense of sexual morality during a gender studies class at one of our glorified ivy league universities or women's colleges, then I'd say she's got courage. However, this is not the case. Her choice of language indicates that she is riding briskly and blandly on the profitable coattails of the oppression gravy train. Whether it is calculated or merely the result of intellectual error upon intellectual error is another matter altogether.

Bottom line: these shows of support she's receiving are not only inappropriate, but presumptuous. This idea that we must believe what people say on their own authority, or based on their feelings (constrained by the prevailing ethos, of course), with no evidence is a worrying trend in left-leaning humanities departments.

I've come across jerk teachers myself. I have been suspected of plagiarism when my essays exceeded the average length for the class. I've had arrogant teachers presume things in ways that defy common sense. Just because some teacher is an ass (and for the purposes of this post I'll grant her that much) doesn't mean there's any reason to invoke all of that baggage. Victimization ideology is a pathological condition that's being propagated by leftist academics that does severe harm to those concerned. It's used for political gain in the Alinsky style and has the effect of entrenching poverty and cultural pathologies. Sure, upper middle class white (or occasionally black, etc) academics can generate this vile substance with no effect on them, but it does have a real affect on those whom it concerns.


I'm puzzled by your comment, especially the first few sentences. What did you not understand from her blog post? What kind of evidence would help you understand? What would you ask her to clarify, what would you like to know, if you were told this story in person instead of as a blog post?


What is the standard of evidence for someone expressing their frustration with an experience that had, given that they have named no names, made no call to action, and otherwise have just told us what happened and how it made them feel?

This isn't a trial, and no one is trying to raise a pitchfork army, as far as I can tell. So, what else do you believe she should do to make it acceptable for her to tell this story, or for people to express sympathy for her unpleasant experience?


I am amazed that a professor would be so surprised by a student using the word "hence". Most professors I've had would probably have taken off points for using it over a simpler alternative like "therefore" or just a different sentence structure that incorporated the two sentences without needing an adverb to tie them together.


In every humanities class I've taken, the professor wouldn't grade us based on word choice nitpicking.


She doesn't say what happened after she got the paper back but going by what she wrote there is no evidence that the prof singled her out because of her ethnicity.

If he or she just handed her the paper back with that scrawled on it that's a dick move, absolutely, but she's reading a lot into "those aren't your words" and doesn't provide any information that backs up her claim her prof is racist.

I checked out her blog and the comment section is full of posters piling on the prof for being "racist".bHow do they know this? Became a stranger on the internet says so? The mob mentality that self-righteous liberals exhibit doesn't help them much in the credibility and integrity department.

I


Whoops...please pardon the typos and stray letters


And I remembered, when I was a freshman, in my Chinese writing class, my teacher insulted me in front of the class like this, "good novel, but never copy and paste", why? because he thought this kind of writing style can't be accomplished by a freshman. I just simply answered, "Thanks. But I never plagiarize" The teacher shocked for few seconds, then he apologize and said "I will recommend to the publication". And my classmates all can't wait to see my novel since the curiosity of human being. If I just accused them without fighting back, things will went to another direction undoubtedly.


I think academia has a big problem related to diversity and what the author described was deplorable behavior by the professor, but that said, I don't think this specific example can be fairly used to generalize. Every academic institute I've interacted with takes accusations of plagiarism seriously, requiring formal procedures and evidence, and possibly expulsion. Maybe things are different elsewhere, but I wouldn't attribute this awful treatment to academia as a whole.


It is comforting to know. the world is same! As a student from a government run poorest rural village school in India, my college professors constantly questioned how I was outperforming and even suggested that I might be using the bribery system to get good grades in standardized final exams. TBH, I actually enjoyed that experience.


This is ridiculous. I'm not at all a native speaker, but after a few years in academia, I learnt to use "hence," in that exact same way


Maybe he just couldn't get over someone using an exclamation point in a paper.

From Strunk & White: "Exclamations. Do not attempt to emphasize simple statements by using a mark of exclamation.

The exclamation mark is to be reserved for use after true exclamations or commands."


Strunk&White is full of bad advice tho.


What an admirable post!


That sounds too much like l'esprit d'escalier. We all encounter jerks and most often there is not much more behind it than that some people are jerks.


I just saw an interesting attitude when a people encountered a tough-time. They didn't fight, instead, they accused, they accused every people dared to question them, accused them as racist, as mean, as not polite, as any possibility they could think of. Come on, this is how the society goes and this is happens every time. And if you tends to have this kind of mindset. Every time you face a challenge, you accuse someone else. To be honest, you are just a lamentable loser. Life is hard and everyone will face their low tide, fight back, not only accusing.




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