Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holy plagiarism, Batman!

I know students cheat, but I don't think any of my friends have ever paid someone to write essays for them. I'd heard rumors of such behavior way back in high school when we were all applying to college, but they seemed like isolated incidents. So how did this come to be so widespread without my knowledge?

Maybe it's because people who made it into Berkeley are just so smart they don't need to cheat.

Nope. I've seen many examples even here of writing that makes my brain ache, and not because of ingenious complexity. There are plenty of people who are unable to form a coherent sentence. To be fair, English is not a native language for some. Yet there are still plenty who mangle other languages with that hard, unsubtle American accent, who have grown up speaking English all their lives. You'd think they would know the language by now.

But why then, haven't I seen it?

Maybe it's just that the majority of my friends are in the biosciences and there are fewer papers assigned. So maybe I don't see it as much as I would if I were, say, a history major.

Maybe it's because I don't cheat and people see that and figure I'm not the person to tell about these amazing services.

Maybe it's because Berkeley is a public university, and the people here are less likely to be able to afford that $2000 per paper.

I don't know the reason. But as for those who (think they) need the service that badly, can't anybody tell from the quality of their other writing that somebody else wrote this paper? In many of the classes where I've had to write papers, our finals included in-class writing assignments. But as a lot of the comments on the article point out, the structure of academic councils and such is not set up in a way that encourages teachers to enforce the rules. It's just too damn complicated to try and prove that a student was not capable of writing something he or she handed in.

Where are you going now, American educational system? Off to test the Coriolis effect, perhaps?

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