Council seeks to combat plagiarism in classrooms

Kathryn McGonagle

Documents to hold

students responsible

Whether students don’t

understand plagiarism or do and

just don’t care, the Student Advisory

Council is working to put an

end to it.

“We want to establish a solid

reputation for ourselves as the

student body and as a university,” said Dan Pratt, president of

student advisory council. He said

the Student Advisory Council’s

purpose is to be an intermediate

between the students and the

dean of the College of Arts and

Sciences. The SAC gives students

a voice in the department.

Combating the growing cheating

and plagiarism problem at

Kent State and around the country,

representatives at the SAC are creating

a statement of student academic


Click here to view the Academic Intent form.

The proposed statement outlines

how students should approach plagiarism

situations and take personal

responsibility for their work.

Pratt said this isn’t just a copy

of what all students get in their

syllabus at the beginning of the


“That is not made by students,”

he said about the faculty-created

syllabi. “This is more readable,

more digestible, and the most

important thing is it’s the students

who created it.”

Rochelle O’Neil, a member of the

SAC, said the plagiarism warnings

attached to syllabi aren’t effective

because of their length. She said

they are too long and complicated

for students to take seriously.

“We wanted our statement to

be short, concise and something

people will read,” O’Neil said.

Pratt said cheating and plagiarism

aren’t just limited to undergraduates,

but affect graduate and

honors students as well.

Timothy Moore, the associate dean of undergraduate affairs and

advising, said the statement that

the SAC has been working on for

over a year will be paired with

a pamphlet, which will include

examples of plagiarism and proper

citation practices.

Moore said he doesn’t have

exact numbers of how many plagiarism

cases there have been,

but Kent State isn’t immune to the


“I think there has been a breakdown

in the seriousness of student

scholarship on the undergraduate

and graduate level,” Moore said.

He said the pamphlet and statement

would be distributed during

freshman orientation as early as

this fall. It will also be available to

faculty and students in every college,

the campus bookstore and

residence halls.

“Plagiarism is a major problem

that we are taking a more serious

look at on multiple levels here at the

university,” Moore said. “This is one

of the byproducts of that look.”

Renee Crane, secretary of the

SAC and returning student, understands

that adult students may not

know how to cite properly. She

said that targeting not only freshman

but also adult and returning

students would increase awareness

and help discourage students from

plagiarizing or cheating because of

a sincere ignorance of what it is.

“Having this handbook handy

to give to them as soon as they walk

in will help them,” Crane said.

Pratt said there is a place to sign

at the bottom of the form that will

act as both an unofficial promise

between the students and themselves

to not plagiarize or cheat and

Moore hopes it will be a deterrent.

“You can take that statement

that is signed during orientation or

whenever its given to a student and

keep it on file so in the event of an

infraction you have leverage against

that student,” Pratt said. “They can’t

claim they didn’t know.”

Moore said the student’s signature

is crucial because it makes

it personal and obligates them to

hold up their end of the deal.

“Without it, it’s just a piece of

paper that can be thrown in the

trash,” Moore said.

Pratt said he think this will help

not only curb the plagiarism and

cheating problem, but make more

of an impact because the students

wrote it for students. He said the

fact that students are speaking out

against it and are striving to commit

to integrity hopefully helps.

“This is something the students

felt needed to be distributed

amongst other students, which is a

significant reason they’ll pay more

attention to this,” Moore said. “It’s

a step in the right direction.”

Contact arts and sciences

reporter Kathryn McGonagle

at [email protected].