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Lindsay: Beware Plagiarism Path on Papers

People operating web sites to sell students “non-plagiarized” papers are dishonest rip-off artists who offer nothing but a lot of trouble for students who fall into the trap, an attorney warned students at Chippewa Valley Technical College Monday.

C.L. Lindsay, founder of the Coalition for Student & Academic Rights, spoke on the various ways students can create trouble for themselves through electronic communications during an event sponsored by the CVTC Student Government Association. With social media and the use of cell phones so prevalent in students’ lives, there are many ways students can make mistakes, Lindsay said.

Among them is falling for the purchased essay or term paper offer online. Lindsay said the work those sites sell is almost always of poor quality, and sometimes laughably out of date. He gave the example of a student who submitted a purchased paper on whether cellular telephone technology would catch on with the public.

Lindsay pointed out the contradiction in trying to sell a “non-plagiarized” paper. Presenting someone else’s work as your own is the definition of plagiarism, he said. And today with instructors having access to online resources themselves, the chances of getting caught are extremely high.

Lindsay also warned that people have been charged multiple times for papers they’ve purchased, with the company threatening to inform the school if the student didn’t pay, making their own customers victims of extortion.

“These are dishonest people in a dishonest business. Don’t get involved with them,” he said.

Lindsay also spoke about how postings on Facebook and Twitter, and messages sent on cell phones, can come back to haunt the student. People can be fired from jobs, expelled from school, denied employment and even face serious criminal charges for what is sent and re-sent in electronic formats.

“It you wouldn’t do it off-line, don’t do it on-line,” Lindsay said. In other words, if you wouldn’t post hundreds of pictures of yourself smoking marijuana all over campus, don’t post it on Facebook or send such a photo by cell phone.

“We seem to change our expectations when we go online, and we change our ethics,” Lindsay said.

The practice of “sexting” nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves or others has led to people facing criminal charges, depending on the ages of the people involved, he said. And if it turns out not to be illegal, it can become a source of bullying, public embarrassment or even extortion, he continued.

Lindsay gave some tips on how to avoid trouble, mostly based on using common sense. He also urged people to take advantage of resources if they do get into trouble, or become the victims of cyber bullying.

“The good news is you’re at a school. The school has a lot of resources,” he said.