King's students accused of plagiarism

Students found guilty of plagiarism could lose marks, but they won't be expelled. (Photo: Corey Davison)

At least 15 students in the Foundation Year Programme at the University of King's College have been accused of passing off someone else's work or idea as their own.

Program director Peggy Heller said the questionable papers are all responses to the same text: The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. She didn't give details or say exactly how many students will face a hearing next week.

The students are scheduled to meet with Heller and Stephen Kimber, the academic integrity officer, on Monday and Tuesday.

During the hearings, students will have a chance to state their case. Heller said students are free to bring an advocate, such as a student or a lawyer, if they are uncomfortable speaking for themselves.

There are around 300 students enrolled in FYP. After a lecture on Friday morning, Heller told them no one would be expelled.

"The worst consequence that would be contemplated at this point would be failing the paper," Heller told UNews, "and then lesser ones would be having marks deducted."

If found guilty of plagiarism, it would be a first offence, Heller said.

Kimber said these are the first allegations of plagiarism at King's this year. "It's not like this is happening regularly."

This was the fifth paper of the term and it was due two days after the FYP midterm. Every essay assignment includes a description and a warning about plagiarism.

'Pretty bogus'

FYP student Sam Tait said it's "pretty bogus" that a student caught plagiarizing wouldn't face expulsion. He said students have known the consequences of plagiarism since high school.

"I don't think there should ever be more than one offence," said Tait. "I understand someone making a mistake and not really understanding that paraphrasing is plagiarism, but to say that they're going to be lenient on first-year students, they're not really following protocol."

According to the intellectual honesty section of the King's calendar and the FYP Handbook, the penalties for plagiarism "may include assignment of a failing grade, suspension or expulsion."

Generally, when a student is suspected of plagiarism at King's, the marking professor will type in the suspicious phrase or idea in an online search engine like Google. Unlike Dalhousie University, King's does not use Blackboard or Turnitin.com, a plagiarism detector.

Heller said these online programs take away from the close relationship between students and professors that King's is known for.

"This would ruin the bond of trust," she said. "I was talking to a tutor today about it and he said it just changes the way you read papers because instead of thinking this is what the student is thinking you start thinking oh, is this really the student's idea."

But these allegations have forced Heller to rethink the university's policy.

Implementing Blackboard and Turnitin.com would make communication between professors and FYP students easier and allow King's to create a permanent bank of papers so professors would be able to compare essays from year to year, she said.

Widely recognized

FYP is known for its intense curriculum and high admission standards. It is geared toward students who love to read and write and "enjoy intellectual dialogue," according to the King's website.

In last year's National Survey of Student Engagement, FYP students ranked themselves the happiest and most content with their first-year university experience, compared to students at other Canadian universities.

Despite at least 15 allegations of plagiarism, Stephen Kimber said he believes that King's reputation remains intact.

"I think it's good that people know that these things will get flagged."

Comments on this story are now closed

Great job!

Posted by Nick | Dec 3, 2021

Talk to the Student Advocacy Service before you talk to Heller/Kimber! The Student Advocacy Service is funded by the Dalhousie Student Union and is run by students. The service provides information, advice and assistance to students involved in academic appeals or disciplinary proceedings at the university, and it is available 12 months of the year. If a student wishes, an advocate will serve as counsel in formal proceedings. The main goal of the service is to bring about the most reasonable solution for students. Student Advocacy Service Room 310, Student Union Building Telephone: 494-2205 E-Mail: [email protected] Website: http://www.dsu.ca/inner.php?page=4&sub1;=89

Posted by Max Ma (former member of the Dalhousie Senate Disc | Dec 3, 2021

Throw them out!

Posted by Dc | Dec 4, 2021

"At least 15 students in the Foundation Year Programme at the University of King's College have been accused of passing off someone else's work or idea as their own." ?? "This would ruin the bond of trust," she said. "I was talking to a tutor today about it and he said it just changes the way you read papers because instead of thinking this is what the student is thinking you start thinking oh, is this really the student's idea."?? To Corey Davison and Pretty bogus: There is no novel thought in your B.A, M.A. and most of your PHD! Either University of Kings College has a penchant for admitting a disproportionate amount of criminally minded students of poor moral rectitude, or the educators at kings have failed these children.

Posted by I know that I know nothing!! | Dec 5, 2021

Yes, "I know that I know nothing", of course there isn't much original thought in papers written about books they've been studying for centuries. Having said that, buying a paper and putting your name on it isn't something that should be met with a slap on the wrist. Even if you are paraphrasing ideas, students learn how to properly cite something in middle school and grade nine. Its a slippery slope, if some students are given a break once, it compromises the integrity of the entire program.

Posted by Jordan | Dec 9, 2021

Okay, first of all "I know that I know nothing", only nine were found to have actually plagiarized and not even to a degree to warrant a failing paper. They didn't take word for word, only basic broad themes and ideas. That doesn't make it right but I think calling them "criminally minded" makes you seem ignorant of the facts. And Jordan, they did NOT buy papers and call them their own. They would have been expelled without question if that had been the case. Within a 7 page paper of their own, they included one or two sentences which took ideas from an online analysis of the work. They were penalized and trust me, as a former FYP student and a current journalist, these students will be more careful than ever about plagiarizing, even more careful than you or I. This was extremely embarrassing and degrading for them, and they know it was completely their fault. It will be on their permanent record. It is the duty of the educators at Kings to teach them a lesson, not deprive them of further education and a second chance. These are all very bright students who obviously are able to write their own papers as they have all year, but were stressed for time the day after the midterms and one week before oral exams.

Posted by Current Kings Student | Dec 13, 2021

Current Kings Student; "...and they know it was completely their fault...It is the duty of the educators at Kings to teach them a lesson" To suggest the educators at kings should not take any responsibility for the failure of their students makes you seem ignorant of many things not to mention how education works. "I think calling them "criminally minded" makes you seem ignorant of the facts" In the letter sent to these first term students, Kings suggested that Lawyers may be present at the meetings and that expulsion was on the table. The statement made on Dec 5th 2010 was worded properly.

Posted by I know that I know nothing!! | Dec 25, 2021