Missing integrity: students, staff, and plagarism

Ella Hunt, Staff Writer

Late night stress, last minute projects and forgotten homework can lead to what teachers and many students believe is unacceptable — plagiarism.

One teacher who often encounters plagiarism is history and geography teacher, Joe Snider. Snider said that plagiarism has become more and more acceptable to students over the past 10 years.

“They look at it and think, ‘It’s no big deal,’ or ‘It’s just a daily grade,’ and then before you know it they’re doing it on projects,” Snider said. “Plagiarism is just laziness and not wanting to take the time to create your own work.”

Snider has caught plagiarism a couple of times this year, but that is just for major assignments, such as essays and projects.

“There are times that it’s just a simple daily assignment and I’ll see someone just copying,” Snider said. “Students don’t equate copying someone’s homework as being plagiarism but it is. I would say I see that kind of plagiarism probably five or six times a year.”

History and psychology teacher Katherine Barker has only had one case of plagiarism this year.

“It was for a major essay — a two to three page essay and two boys had the exact same words,” Barker said. “Then, I looked up the words and they were copied off of a website.”

Barker said she uses the website turnitin.com which is one of many online sites that checks for plagiarism. However, for Snider, a simple search works just as well.

“I found one recently that was so obvious that I did a Google search on the topic,” Snider said. “The third one down looked kind of familiar so I clicked on the article and it took me 30 seconds to find it. For a case like that, I’ll tell a student they have a zero and I’ll even write the URL from where they took it.”

Both Snider and Barker agree that the internet has made it much easier for students to plagiarize. However, students such as senior Sabrina Singh believe that plagiarism is no longer a growing problem because of the internet.

“Honestly, if you Google a plagiarism checker, you can put your essay up and change a few words and submit it where it is less plagiarized,” Singh said. “Then sites such as “TurnItIn” will somewhat scare students into changing their works.”

Singh also said that she believes that plagiarizing is inevitable because nothing is completely 100 percent original, but students should still be penalized for it.

“If it’s 30 percent or less, then teachers shouldn’t punish a student,” Singh said. “If it’s more, then it’s okay for them to deduct points for minimal amounts. If it’s fully plagiarized, give them zero’s or have them redo an assignment.”

Unlike Singh, junior Saaideh Abbasi, believes that technology is making plagiarism more convenient.

“I do think it’s a growing problem,” Abbasi said. “Technology is advancing everyday, and having access to that sort of information is getting easier and easier everyday.”

According to Abbasi, plagiarism is not only harmful to a student’s education, but it is also morally wrong.

“I don’t think it’s right because it’s taking credit from someone,” Abbasi said. “I understand if you don’t get the concepts or can’t find the right words, but taking someone else’s work isn’t going to help you much.”

In college, many students who get caught for plagiarism are automatically expelled. In high school, the most severe punishment is a failing grade.

“They need to be aware of the consequences and learn from their mistakes,” Abbasi said. “They need to know what’s going happen in the real world if they do plagiarize.”

Neiither Barker nor Snider are sure of how to help all students understand the consequences of plagiarism and to inform them about how it can affect them in the future. However, this does not stop them from trying.

“I will always try to appeal to them, as most teachers will,” Snider said. “Unfortunately, in some cases a student has to be caught and suffer a penalty before they realize that this is a serious thing. Students don’t realize that there is a price on this thing called integrity and part of plagiarism is that you’re lying or stealing. This compromises your integrity, and it takes a lot to earn it back.”