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The Plague of Plagiarism

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Timothy Cedrone

Dr. Oguine

English 1201-ZCE

30 September 2002

The Plague of Plagiarism

Simply defined, the word plagiarism means "the unauthorized use of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own" ("Plagiarism"). While many students understand and comprehend the first clause of this definition, many encounter problems with the second part - the thoughts part. Many students in today's educational system are frequently unable to develop their own thoughts, opinions, and ideas relating to the subject matter that they are studying. However, when people at a university are educated according to the ways set forth by John Henry Newman in "The Idea of a University," their ability to create original concepts would be cultivated to the point, where they do not feel the need to plagiarize and cheat. Newman also states that in the end, the university will produce citizens that can give back to society (48). Jeffrey Hart makes a similar point in "How to Get a College Education." Therefore, according to both Newman and Hart, an honest person will be fashioned by the university. Since honesty does not breed cheating, should not cheating then be minimized? Plagiarism and its sister cheating are plagues on society that only serve to corrupt it. Nevertheless, the education given by a university can diminish and, perhaps, even eradicate the disease by instilling in students, a sense of honor, and implementing harsh penalties on those caught cheating or plagiarizing.

The fostering of independent thought is sometimes forgone in today's educational system. At times, students are encouraged to just complete their assignment instead of thinking about what they are doing so that they may fully understand their work. Often times, this pressure leads to cheating and plagiarism. Furthermore, students cheat because of factors such as "time and workload . . . followed by parental pressure" (Clayton 187). The solution to this problem lies within the framework for education laid by John Henry Newman. Newman states that students at a university should and will "learn to respect" others as well as develop a "clear atmosphere of thought" (48). This will then lead them to be able to think more independently and therefore rely more on their own intellectual skills than those of others. If and when the ideals of John Henry Newman are followed rather closely, the ability of all students to reason autonomously will increase dramatically and, thereby, decrease the amount of cheating.

Since the ultimate purpose of a university is to prepare people to be good citizens in society (Newman 48), and according to Jeffrey Hart, students in a university should become citizens after they complete college (131), if cheating is minimized at university level, it will also reduce in the society. In this context, citizens should be wholesome people who are able to give back to society, the honesty they have learned in the university; once they are a part of it. The university, also, has an aim of "purifying the national taste" and

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