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The Plague of Plagiarism

Around the country, students from all walks of life have been warned about the dangers of plagiarism. The dangers of this heinous act have been drilled into the bright minds of the future. Scared into double- and triple-checking their sources and ensuring they have used proper citations, some students have nearly driven themselves crazy just to make sure their assignment passes one of the many plagiarism checks teachers employ. With the threat of expulsion hanging over their heads, these do-gooder students have striven to be nothing short of the high expectations they have set for themselves.

Unfortunately, not every student shares this drive. Whether they are bogged down by other assignments, busy with work, or just don’t care enough to put forth any real effort, many students have learned how to get around plagiarism checks by hiring someone else to write their paper for them. This could be their significant other, their English major classmate, or even one of the many writing websites that prowl the internet, seeking new prey.

One study done by Rutgers University revealed that of the 63,700 American undergraduates surveyed, 38% have admitted to copying some sentences from a written source without giving proper citation. Of the same undergraduates, 7% admitted to turning in someone else’s work as their own. Now, this survey was done more than fifteen years ago, and the numbers most likely look much different now.

Something else that students may not be aware of is self-plagiarism. This happens when a student takes pieces from a different assignment that they have written and use them in their new assignment. Even though it is their own work and they wrote it, to take passages from it without citing it is to commit plagiarism.

Even here on the Blue Mountain College campus, plagiarism is on the rise. More and more, students are trying to find a way around the check software. While using an essay mill will ensure that a paper will pass the plagiarism checks, students are still committing academic dishonesty by claiming the work as their own. The person who writes the paper for them is just as guilty. Dr. Elizabeth Crews of the English Department says, “I do believe that at a Christian college, we should be holding ourselves to a higher standard.”

To commit academic dishonesty is to lie, which is a sin against God. It’s easy to believe that grades are all that matters when faced with the possibility of failure, but our GPAs won’t matter in Heaven. It won’t even matter five years down the road. What matters, here and now, is that we strive to glorify God in everything that we do, and that includes doing our best in our studies.

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