Thursday, June 05, 2003

Reaping What You Sow:
File Under Plagiarism

Remember that high school student whose mother never taught her to share? You know, the one with the immune deficiency who successfully sued her school for the right to be recognized as sole valedictorian -- despite already being one of three valedictorians? The one who gained her high GPA points by not having to take courses required for non-disabled students, such as gym?

Well, now that she's been caught plagiarising, admitting that she did not properly attribute information in three articles and two essays she wrote for the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill, here comes with the dubious news that "nearly 1400 people," some who ominously "say they are associated with the university," have already signed a petition asking Harvard to rescind their offer of enrollment for next year. Seems they were afraid that she'd sue for the right to be the only student there. Geoff Mulvihill, "Associated Press Writer," reports:
Blair L. Hornstine, 18, explained her actions in a column published in the newspaper Tuesday, but she did not apologize. "I am not a professional journalist. I was a 17-year-old with no experience in writing newspaper articles," she wrote. "Upon reflection, I am now cognizant that proper citation allows scholars of the future to constantly re-evaluate and re-examine academic works."
This is an interesting definition of why we cite. It's innovative, I suppose. But it's also very wrong. Notably, Hornstine's definition is consistent with the egoism which led to her suit in the first place -- in avoiding the issue of tying one's work into the web of ideas by referring specifically to those ideas, instead focusing on what citation does for a single text; it is an approach purely consistent with her self-centered history in the press. One cannot help but wonder at an eighteen year old who can write better than, say, Geoff Mulvihill, but does not know what proper citation is for, and cannot understand that it is at least as much for the present as it is for the future.

Bonus: The story which contains the above quote ("...but did not apologize") has as its headline "Valedictorian apologizes for failing to attribute in columns. Oops.

Bonus, Too: The piece is generally slipshod. Grammar errors abound, and that headline/quote mismatch is just embarassing. Reporting that "some" people who signed a petition say they are associated with the university isn't concrete enough to be news. How did this article get by the Newsday editorial crew? Mulvihill should be ashamed; where does he think he is, Fox News?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:27 PM |

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