Thursday, August 07, 2008

UVa expels plagiarizing OhioU student from ship!

An Ohio University student, Allison Routman, on-board the "Semester at Sea" program run by the University of Virginia, was put ashore at Greece for plagiarism.

From the coverage by Richmond Times Dispatch :

Routman was nearing the end of the summer voyage when she was accused of plagiarism. Her class had been assigned to watch a movie and write a paper comparing it with personal experiences from the voyage.

She chose "Europa Europa," a film about the Holocaust, and related it to her experience growing up Jewish.

She said she watched the movie but looked up the synopsis on Wikipedia to make sure she used the right historical terminology.

The day before the papers were returned, she said, the professor told the class there were some suspected cases of plagiarism and asked students to come forward and make a "conscientious retraction."

"Had I had any idea I had done something wrong, I would have absolutely come forward," she said.

Several students did, however, and were not expelled, she said. But she and another student were ordered off the ship.

IPBiz notes that Ohio University was the site of the masters degree plagiarism mess in the Russ engineering school. Some people might draw a parallel between the two matters as to the "triviality" of the events: copied "background" sections in the theses and a copied movie synopsis by Routman. Glen Poshard copied his summary of "review of prior literature" in his Ph.D. thesis (page 54) at SIU, but got a walk through the concept of inadvertent plagiarism. Laurence Tribe copied FROM a U Va professor and basically got a walk. There is no consistency in the way plagiarism events are handled.


from the Daily Press / AP:

U.Va.'s honor code originated in 1842, and requires students to pledge not to cheat, lie or steal, or tolerate those who do. A student committee operates the adjudication process, including defending those accused. Students who are found guilty of violating the code are expelled from the university. Those who opt to leave school without requesting a trial are deemed to have admitted guilt.

For those interested in the "historical terminology" of Europa Europa from Wikipedia, link here for Europa Europa. The discussion of the plot is five paragraphs long.

There is other coverage at WCAV including the text:

But when Allison Routman, a senior at Ohio University, used three phrases from the Wikipedia summary of the movie she was accused, tried and kicked off her Semester at Sea ship for plagiarism.


Allison Routman told CBS19 in a phone interview that when all this went down, she was kicked off the ship in Greece, left to fend for herself. She had to sleep in the Athens airport until she could finally get a flight back to the U.S.

With everything that happened, she won't get any class credit and she says her family's out about $15,000.

UVa and Semester at Sea are in the middle of a five-year partnership. The Semester at Sea program has partnered with a number of universities dating back almost 50 years.

The other student who was kicked off was Mark Gruntz of California Baptist University.

See An Education in the Dangers of Online Research and

Washington Post.


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