Friday, December 19, 2008

Good job, if you didn't cheat.

Kimber worries.

I recently (within the last three hours) completed finals for fall semester. This would have been a good feeling, except that one professor refused to hand back my term paper because he thinks I cheated.

Cheating is a serious accusation at any university, but at BYU it's especially bad, as they can throw you out and refuse to take you back. I can handle being thrown out, but a refusal to take me back would be crushing.

The professor, who shall not be named here, thinks I cheated because "no undergraduate could have written a paper this good". This really should be a compliment, but for some reason it just makes my stomach curl over on itself and my knees go weak. I think a lot of the bad feelings have to do with the fact that even after I was taken into a separate room and quizzed for twenty minutes, the professor still wanted an electronic copy to run on a plagarism-check. I thought I explained every aspect of the paper very well, but he needed more proof.

I should take the time to state here that I did not cheat. I may suck at showing up to class, finding the motivation to do the reading, and taking tests, but when I write a paper, I write it well, and I write it for myself. No outsourcing here.

I do think the professor is a little silly to quiz me on the paper and then run it through a plagarism-check afterwards. If I'm smart enough to learn everything about the paper without having written it, wouldn't I be smart enough to have had it written just for me by a trusted source, rather than just copying and pasting any old article? What he should have done is checked it first (even if he didn't have an electronic copy he could have tricked me and asked for one claiming he'd lost the paper I gave him, demanded that the entire class send him an electronic copy for no reason so that I wouldn't know he only wanted one from me, scanned the hard copy into a computer with a text-recognition program, or even just have his fawning TA re-type it; it was only six pages) and then asked me to explain it. If he really thinks I'm cheating, doesn't he want to give himself the best chance to catch me?

In the end though, I think what makes me feel so icky about the whole thing is the fact that he never said anything clearly one way or the other. He started things off by saying that he wanted to talk to me about my paper, and then went right into quizzing me about the most arbitrary aspects of it. It was only halfway through the interview that I realized he wasn't confused or interested, but suspicious. At the end of the inquisition, when I should have reasonably been able to satisfy his doubts, he said something like "Well, it was certainly the most interesting and indepth of all the papers I'ver read this semester. That's actuallly the purpose of the assignment and what I'd like to see out of the class, so, good job, if you didn't cheat".

I think we can all learn a valuable lesson from this about what happens when one puts real effort into a class.

P.S. I would post the paper here so both of our faithful readers can see for themselves that the paper wasn't really so mind-blowingly good as to merit all this trouble, but I don't want it to show up when the professor does his plagarism check. You'll just have to live without the edification of my research on medieval translation theory as it relates to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.


  1. The moral of this story is that BYU is full of bastards and assholes. Seriously though college sucks. Yeah.

  2. The moral of the story is: if you don't try, you fail, and if you do try, people assume you cheated. Solution: kick every ass that presents itself.

    Seriously, though, are you sure it's that bad? Are you sure you're not paranoid because of stress/fatigue/overworking/being you? And I mean that is the nicest possible way....

  3. I really really like your solution to life Jarret. It solves a lot of problems that are otherwise unsolvable.