A Festive Airing of Grievances (Part 2)

The Dickcheese I mentioned previously isn’t the only student here at Wordsmith who has threatened to file a grade grievance against me — let me tell you about a student I had this summer.  I think I will call him Bubba.  “Bubba” sounds like the name of a crazy-ass redneck, right?  That’s what I’m going for.

So, Bubba plagiarized his final paper for his literature class.  He just straight up googled, copied, and pasted.  (That’s what we call the old “Google, Copy, Paste,” in the academic parlance.)  It took me about five minutes from the time I began reading “his” essay until I had not only noticed it was plagiarized but had also found, bookmarked, printed out, highlighted, and cross-referenced the three websites whence the stolen material had come.  It was an open and shut case.

Unfortunately, the process for dealing with such matters is not open and shut.  It requires the sending of eighty-seven letters to eighty-seven different deans and vice presidents, the sacrifice of a Christian virgin, and the performance of certain other sacred and indescribable academic rites at the altar of the god of student judicial affairs.

Before any of this could happen, though, I had to make a legitimate effort to meet with the young whippersnapper.  This is one of the rules. In my communications with the Bubba, however, things got a little bit crazy.  I had asked him to let me know when he could meet me, but I didn’t say why I needed to see him.  The first thing he did was start sending me a series of crazy emails demanding to know why he couldn’t have his paper back like everyone else and oh, by the way, no one has mentioned it, but he sure as shit didn’t PLAGIARIZE anything, oh no. Alls he DID, see, was use a thesaurus to come up with some better vocabulary, which he THOUGHT I would appreciate, but he GUESSED he was WRONG ABOUT ME.  Also, Bubba wrote, he was willing to “fight to the death” over this issue, if it came to it.  The series of emails (SERIES!  Like, sixteen of them!) kept trickling into my inbox, and all the while he never answered my question of when we could meet.

Finally, exhausted by the whole endless game, I just told him via email that I would be submitting his crazy, redneck ass to the proper authorities.  It was at this point that Bubba wrote back, “I am glad you are submitting this to [The Proper Authorities], because otherwise I was going to have to take it to the Dean myself!”  And then I realized, without a fucking doubt, how crazy the kid actually was.  Did he honestly believe he could file a grade grievance over this matter?  Over a blatantly (and poorly) plagiarized essay?  What the everloving fuck?

Things eventually began to wind down, though.  I suppose Bubba either came to his senses or his parents gave him a talking to, but he decided to confess — via another series of crazy emails, of course.  When the hearing finally came around, I was armed with a massive folder of evidence: not just his essay and the three plagiarized articles I’d found online, but also the series of crazy email denials, crazy email confessions, and desperate email apologies.  Bubba didn’t even show up to the hearing.

After having to go through that endless, stressful, sanity-defying process (which stretched throughout the summer and into this Fall semester), I am no longer worried by the prospect of a grade grievance.  I doubt old Dickcheese will even go through with his threat — surely he’ll see the futility in it, right?  But then again, Bubba never saw that futility until after I had had to jump through all of the eighty-seven procedural hoops. I suppose relying on a student to see common sense is like waiting for help at the DMV.  You may as well just pour yourself a cocktail, put up your feet, and get really good and damn comfortable.

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2 thoughts on “A Festive Airing of Grievances (Part 2)

  1. Barbara October 13, 2008 / 10:35 pm

    Weren’t you a little nervous about a fight to the death? I mean, Bubba…he might have a gun. So far I have just flunked plagiarizers on the assignment, and had no escalating consequences. These are supposed to be relatively good students, though; maybe they can see when a fight’s not worth it.

  2. Alfina the Vague October 14, 2008 / 1:34 pm

    I figured he wasn’t serious about that fight, since he was actually too chicken to even meet with me in person (and too afraid to attend his own hearing!).

    In our case we can’t just flunk them on the assignment — it has to go through a committee. They have the right to protest the charges, etc., and they can catch repeat offenders that way, too.

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