The ‘F’ Bomb

| Learning | May 5, 2014

(I am working on my Ph.D., and am also a teaching assistant for a dramatic literature class where students are assigned a play to write a paper about. Normally, I tried to reread the play as a refresher before grading the papers, but one was just so long that I didn’t have the time, so I used Cliff’s Notes. When I begin to grade the paper, I discover I am actually just reading the Cliff’s Notes again. I underlined everything that had been plagiarized, all but a few connecting sentences, and hand it back to the student the next day. My note on the essay: This is unacceptable. ‘F.’)

Student: *in front of the whole class* “What do you MEAN, ‘F’?! You b******! My father is a lawyer and he’ll sue you for everything you’re worth, a**hole!”

Me: “Almost every word in this ten-page paper was lifted directly from Cliff’s Notes!”

Student: “So? My roommate wrote this paper when she took the class last year and got an A! I copied it from her! Why the h*** am I getting an F?!”

Me: “Are you telling me you plagiarized a plagiarized paper?”

Student: “What the f*** does that mean?!”

Me: “You copied this paper from your roommate, right?”

Student: “Yeah!”

Me: “Well, apparently she copied it from someone else, too. You can’t take credit for someone else’s work. If last year’s TA had realized that she had copied it, she would have failed, too.”

Student: “But you never TOLD us we couldn’t copy our papers!”

(She appealed her grade on those grounds. Naturally, she didn’t win, even with help from her father the lawyer.)

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