Soul Doubt: Plaigarism in Action

Friday, November 13, 2009

Plaigarism in Action

I've been wrestling with an ethical dilemma lately, and after weighing out the pros and cons of confession in such a public venue, am opting to get this anvil off my chest and damn the consequences- after all, who am I kidding? It's not like the entire world reads this little corner of the blogosphere, after all. I'm sure unburdening my secret here will cause very few ripples on the pond of interlife.

So in summary: a dear friend, one of the few I've known and stayed in touch with since grade school days, is now attending a college which shall remain unnamed. She's been struggling of late, more so at the time of my helping her. This was mainly because she was in the last trimester of a difficult pregnancy... and of course, bearing the joys of trying to run a household consisting of three other children and an unemployed husband. They'd just moved, as well, to a tiny little shitsplat of a town forty-odd miles outside Spokane- far enough away from civilization that I actually feared for her and the baby come delivery time.

I suppose that's neither here nor there... not the gist of my problem, anyhow...and by the way, all went splendidly with the delivery of the child. The real reason I'm posting this is that I've been troubled these last few weeks by my acquiescence to her request that I assist her with some of her schoolwork. Translation: write a paper for her. This was weeks ago- I mean, she's now had her baby and is slowly but surely catching up at school- all on her own now, thank you-, plus I felt great at the time for saving her butt when she was already on academic probation, the assistance I rendered went over flawlessly with no one the wiser (according to her)... so why do I still feel so rotten?

Is the shameful little twinge I feel simply conscience? Or, when I ruthlessly examine my most recurring thoughts: is it because I know I'll be attending the same school myself come January and I'm afraid one of my teachers-to-be in that relatively small institution of learning might just be the one to whom my friend turned in an essay that was purportedly hers, but in reality was a creation of my own imaginings? Might said teacher even perhaps recognize the writing style? After all, I've read other pieces of my friend's writing- and not that she is illiterate, nor even untalented- but her style is far, far different from my own. A discerning teacher in a small class would surely pick such dissimilarities out with ease. In fact, I pleaded with my friend, in the email in which I attached the piece, to rewrite it- keeping the gist of it if she wanted, but in order to NOT get caught, revise some of the language and whatnot to more closely resemble her own writing. However, being as pressed as time as she was, I seriously doubt that she took my advice, and probably just forwarded the entire thing as is (as was?). So in my cynical, pessimistic mind, I have to think her teacher's eyebrows were at least raised a bit when my friend's essay was submitted, an essay quite dissimilar to her other works thus far.

Now I'm left with this sour taste in my mouth, be it guilt or fear of being caught, the end result is the same... and although I've resolved to never "help" in such a way again, I still have to wonder if my poor choice is going to have any other repercussions. And do you want to know the most ironic part of the whole deal? I am PROUD of that essay! I think it's one of the best pieces of writing I've done all year, maybe ever! I'm not sure how those four thousand words flowed out of me so effortlessly, turning out the most marvelous first draft I've ever written, but they did. Isn't that a bitch? Not being able to revel in- or publish- something one is itching to, all because of the deceit in the piece to begin with? Perhaps that's the justice fate (or God, this does seem His style) has meted out to me: suffer in silence while "her" essay wins some award, unable to claim credit, only the shame of dishonesty. Sigh.


  1. Cut yourself some slack on this. You're feeling the guilt, and that's OK, but you can find out who your friend's teacher was, and probably avoid any of his/her's classes.

  2. Definitely give yourself a break. And just ask your friend. If she's close enough to accept such a favor (and obviously that's what it was; you were acting from your heart), just ask her who the teacher was. Better yet, ask if she changed the words as you asked and then ask her to forward to you the e-mail she sent. (Even if she thinks she deleted it, it's likely still in her e-mail history.)

    No, you can't do anything about it now. But the teacher also is unlikely to link the two of you together based on just the one essay. But the time you get to that teacher, assuming you do, the previous paper will be a memory. It might trigger something reading your writing, but it's highly unlikely.

    You lost a piece of writing, and sure that sucks. But at least now you know ...

  3. We all make bad decisions and do things we regret, the key is to identify them, stop making them and then move on. Sounds like you identified one, decide to stop doing it and now it is time to move on.

  4. I've been practically doing my nine year olds homework for him just to get it done and him in bed at a reasonable time. It was waaay over the line of simply doing one problem to get him going.
    His class performance hit the fan a week or so ago and he is now doing it on his own. And so proud of himself too.
    My older kid was very motivated to get her homework done and needed little input except for maybe occasionally a bit of math help. So it blindsided me when the second one wasn't the same way.
    I used to say "how could any parent EVER enable their kid like that"??? Well, now that I've done that, I realize just how easy it is to do if your kid isn't taking to school like a duck to water.

  5. Ah, K-mom...the best part is that you see the irony of the whole situation. If the essay actually DID win recognition of some kind, you'd both cringe and laugh at your own unwise choice. Good for you.


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Thanks for taking the time to read what I ramble about- I consider it an honor to get feedback from you guys, so please tell me what you think, feel, if you have a similar story... whatever you'd like! Thanks again and God bless.