Plagiarism decreases value of a UT education

Katherine Brookman

I am sure that we are all familiar with a somewhat daunting word in the world of writing: plagiarism. Since lower school, we have been warned about the consequences of using another person’s words without proper attribution. The repercussions of such an act can result in anything from a failing grade on an assignment to suspension or expulsion. But what if you could pay someone to write your papers for you without getting caught? 

Recently, I was surprised to find out that there are fliers on campus advertising an easy out in academics: services that allow students to purchase essays with a simple phone call. While I am sure that we have all heard about online websites that allow students to buy papers, seeing a flier for this on campus gave me an uneasy feeling.   

Apparently, in the course of one phone call or 10 minutes online, students can save themselves hours of work and potentially earn a better grade on an assignment than if they had done it themselves. For students who are overloaded with coursework or aren’t doing well in a class, this might seem like an appealing offer. It also seems to be the perfect solution for those students who don’t like writing. But I feel strongly that these reasons do not justify claiming another person’s work as your own.  

UT defines plagiarism as “[representing] as your own work any material that was obtained from another source, regardless how or where you acquired it.”   

Unfortunately, a solution to this problem seems rather out of reach. Professors and TAs are typically faced with a large number of students in each class. This, along with the fact that our courses last only a semester, makes it nearly impossible for them to learn the writing styles of each student. Therefore, it would be difficult for a teacher to identify work completed by someone other than the student who turned it in.   

While there are programs that allow professors to check written works for plagiarism, these only work if the writer has copied or closely paraphrased words from another essay, a website, etc. If the person being paid to write the essay produces an original piece, it would be undetectable by this software.   

While the school outlines a series of academic consequences for students caught plagiarizing, I believe the personal consequences of such actions, especially for the students who do not get caught, are far greater. Each time we choose to give less than our full effort, we are sacrificing the value of our education. Not only does this apply to buying assignments, but also to skipping classes and failing to complete assigned work.  

When students choose to purchase assignments rather than completing them themselves, they learn nothing. It is impossible to improve your writing if you do not write — it is through our mistakes that we learn. It concerns me that it is possible for students to get away with graduating college without writing at least one paper. What happens to these students when they get jobs and can no longer take such an easy way out?   

Students today should be empowered by the amount of information so readily available to them — we should not use it as an excuse to give the minimum effort possible. While it might help you through a test, SparkNotes can’t replace a book for your literature class. Binge watching House of Cards won’t help you study for government. And Breaking Bad can’t teach you chemistry. Going to class and getting to know your professors is the only way to take advantage of the four years we have here. Most importantly, submitting another person’s work as your own will only impede your education.  

Brookman is a pre-public relations sophomore from Fort Worth. Follow Brookman on Twitter @Kbrookman13.