Plagiarism is apparently a thing. I thought it was a myth, and maybe once or twice in my teaching career I would come across it. My co workers warned me of its existence, but I didn’t believe them. A few times when reading papers I had doubts, but could not find any evidence. Then final papers came in.

One student blatantly plagiarized her entire paper. Aside from the fact that the writing was far too different from her previous work, including in-class writing, she hadn’t even bothered to edit out the bits which indicated where she obtained the work (1.5 pages from Wikipedia, 2 pages from GradeSaver, and 2 pages from the Poetry Foundation). Of course I now started second guessing her previous papers, but I had no proof, and had already returned them to her.

The policy at my institution for plagiarism is an immediate fail, and a report on file. She wasn’t doing terribly in my class, and would have probably ended up with a B or B+ had she not done this. I didn’t want to wreck her entire academic record (even though she arguably just did that herself). The final decision was mine, so I emailed her letting her know that she will receive a zero on the paper, and if she does exceptionally well on the in-class final, she may end up with a C in my class. According to my co workers I was being extremely lenient.

She came to my office in a tizzy stating it was totally unfair that she should receive a zero on her final paper because she “had plagiarized the last paper too and didn’t get a zero on it.”

And I just lost all pity for her.

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