A College Freshman Turned in My Blog Post as His Homework


A student at a major university was asked to write an essay on pop culture and image. What this student did, instead, was copy and paste a blog post that I wrote and slap his name on it.

The student’s teacher sent me the following message:

Today, one of my students turned in your essay on Miley Cyrus and appropriation as their original work.

He will be going through the appropriate channels (including failing my class and being sent to the academic integrity provost), but I thought you would like to know that you’ve arrived. Freshmen are stealing your work.

We have never met, but I follow your writing. I am a [redacted] at the [redacted institution of higher education] and I specialize in literature, feminism, and cultural criticism (so naturally I would be ignorant to something that got 700,000 views).

The professor added:

In my house, at least, the irony is not lost that a white male student attempted to get by on the intellect of a brown woman…by stealing her work on appropriation.

Truly does not get much better than that. He even took it to be looked over by the writing center.

He did change a few words and add a few things, messed with your paragraph breaks, but changing “woman” to “girl” and “history” to “status” is not original writing. I was galled when I saw it, it’s THAT blatant.
Oh, and the entire first page that was not yours was stolen from [Rich Juzwiak’s Gawker post] In Defense of Miley Cyrus. I just found that.

As part of his punishment, the student was asked to email me an apology; it read:

Dear Ms Dodai,
Thank you for being a wonderful writer and journalist.
My name is [redacted] I am a student at [redacted] and I am writing to you in order to apologize for plagiarizing your work On Miley Cyrus, Ratchet Culture and Accessorizing With Black People. I was given a writing assignment about a pop culture image, and I made the poor decision of waiting to try and finish it the same week I had exams due. With exams occurring the same week that I was attempting to finish the paper, I took the easy way out and wrongfully stole your work. I deeply apologize for stealing your writing and analysis on Miley and fully know that I do not deserve credit for your work.
I know it was foolish of me to attempt to compare your work to mine. You are far more determined and driven in your writing then have ever been in my whole life. I should have started the work sooner, I should have known that my decision was wrong, and I should have envisioned how it would feel to have someone take credit for something you have dedicated your life to doing.
Needless to say there were a lot of should have done during this assignment, but didn’t. From this point forward, I will no longer plagiarize anyone’s writing and will start my work sooner so I have more time to complete it, instead of cheating or plagiarizing someone else material. I promise you will never be receiving this email from me again.

Honestly, I was not sure how to respond. Thoughts?

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