Saturday, December 17, 2005
Yes, Virginia, there is an eCheat.com
Thursday afternoon I was grading a student's paper and couldn't make heads or tails of it - it was incredibly awful. (this isn't the student I was complaining about before, with the plagiarized draft). It was a page too short, poorly argued, and had no works cited or bibliography. It was also completely irrelevant to our class, and further, the student had never cleared the topic with me. Already poised to give it a "D" on its own "merits," I decided to check if some of the introduction was plagiarized. I googled the first sentence, and found the whole essay online...
... on a site actually called eCheat.com. Priceless.
I present, for your amusement (the other graduate student teachers and I were laughing so hard we were crying), the last three questions of the site's FAQ:
Isn't the point of this site to help students cheat?
Can I use this site without plagiarizing?
Yes! If you read essays to better understand a subject or to get essay topics you aren't committing plagiarism. You're only committing plagiarism when you copy someone else's work without citing it. All of our essays have an automated tool for properly citing our essays in the major bibliography formats (MLA, APA, Chicago).
If I turn in one of these essays as my own will I get caught?
Most likely not. Most teachers are not very perceptive. However if you are caught the penalties may be severe. If you copy other people's work often you will impair your ability to do complex assignments and will end up hurting yourself. Don't allow the school system get in the way of your education.
So there, my friends. Don't let the school system get in the way of your education. But you probably won't get caught. (I love the qualifier "OFTEN" -- "if you copy other people's work often you will..."). Hilarious.
The story, believe it or not, gets better. I write to the email address the student had emailed me from before, asking him to come to my office either that day or after his exam on 9.30 Friday morning. I hear nothing back. He's not there for the exam Friday morning. I (reasonably enough) figure that he knows the gig is up and is just going to accept a failing grade.
After the exam, I check my email and see a couple emails from students who missed the exam & wanted to write the exam with my other section this Tuesday the 20th; I grudgingly say yes. I would have refused had I gotten their emails before they missed the exam, but fuck it, they may as well just write it on Tuesday. The official Fordham policy is that professors can't schedule make-up exams for students, or let students write exams at any time other than the official time for their section, but this rule is pretty much never enforced.
Then I see Plagiarist's email, sent from another email address than the one I'd emailed Thursday:
From: [email address I've never firstname.lastname@example.org]
Date: Dec 16, 2005 1:36 AM
Hi Ms Dryden its [student's first name]. Im Sorry i did not notice sooner but my english teacher scheduled his final for me at 9 00 friday morning because i am leaving wednsday to go back to my hometown for Christmas. Is there anyway i can take this test at a later date before finals are over?
-[student's first name]
So... this kid wants to leave early for Christmas, and so arranges with his English professor to write the English exam early, and only notices at 1.36 am that there's a conflict, and so figures that mine is the exam he can reschedule?!?
The kid's totally going to fail; even if he writes the final and gets 100% on it he'll still just get 49% in the class; but the last thing I need him complaining about is that the only reason he failed is that I didn't let him write the final. So even though I'm perfectly within my rights to not reschedule his final (he should have shown up for it!), I write him back:
Did you get my email to your other email account? Please come in and see me this afternoon, or make an appointment to see me Monday. I'd like to talk to you about your paper. I'd also like to talk to you about the class.He responds, asking to make an appointment for Monday, and saying "and is there a problem with my report? because i know I forgot a work cited.."
When you come in we can discuss the possibility of you taking the exam with the other section on Tuesday.
Of course, I would love to see his works cited. It would be one work: the eCheat site.
So, I have an appointment with this kid Monday at noon. I wonder what he's going to have to say for himself. I wonder if he'll bother appealing? The whole thing is annoying, since I now have to fill out a report to the Dean so this kid will have a big red P for plagiarism on his record FOREVER. (Well, actually, they don't really take it that seriously. Nothing bad will happen to this kid. Fordham would never turn down his parents' money.)
Basically done grading papers, and now I have one section's exams to grade before I get the next round on Tuesday.
Oh, and Josh is organizing a birthday party for me tonight. Yay!!!
jane 11:59 AM [+]