How serious are we on plagiarism?

With Time and CNN suspending their columnist for plagiarism charges, many newspapers have printed articles with their reporters speaking out on this. Some papers have even dedicated an entire page to plagiarism, not in journalism, but plagiarism among students.

 The articles speak a lot on how students should refuse copying and think, write on their own and all. This made me think about my own situation in college. Before every internal, we are given an assignment in every subject. In my first year, I was so naive that I wrote all my assignments by referring text books not prescribed, writing down the matter on my own, making a 5 mark assignment look like a technical paper. I was proud of it, but I realized later that I was looked upon as an idiot by my friends. Why? Because I spent so much time in writing a ‘silly’ assignment when others were just ripping off text books, Wikipedia and copying exactly what others have written. This isn’t even seen as copying, its dubbed “sharing” or “helping”. Just last week, when my class was given an assignment one creative friend  of mine photocopied someone else’s  assignment and soon whole class did the same.

 So what now? Are we to ban assignments in colleges and move on to other evaluation process? No. What could be done is to order students not to copy their assignments. Not only that, giving different assignment to different students would help a lot. We are so obsessed with marks that the assignments that are given just before exams because they will make the student understand the subject, are not taken seriously, and end up being copied from someone else just to save some effort. Plagiarism, in college, has to stop, just to protect interests of students like me. Yes, it is a big deal. We sometimes spend hours in writing assignments and understanding the concepts. We don’t do that to have some hotshot to write exactly the same thing. We do it for ourselves. We have to do it only to better ourselves and not because I’m writing an article on it. Now that I have made my point, I have an assignment waiting for me.

Srinivas Arcot

An eternal optimist with volatile cynicism.

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