Nothing to fear but Google

Friends, Romans and countrypersons, don’t plagiarize your commencement speech. And wear sunscreen.

In checking a Hegel reference on Google, Sally Greene of Greenespace realized a Missouri dean and history professor, Bryan LeBeau, had copied much of his 2003 graduation speech from a 1993 speech by Cornel West. Greene, an adjunct law professor at University of North Carolina, analyzes the subtle differences.

Eric Muller of Is That Legal? gives us LeBeau’s plagiarism policy for his “Religion in America” course:

Students found to cheat on an exam, plagiarize their written work, or in any other way misappropriate the intellectual property of others will receive penalties ranging from a failed grade for that exercise to failure for the entire course and notification of designated university officials depending on the severity of the violation.

Here’s the Chronicle of Higher Education story.

Read University Diaries for more on plagiarism, including a serially plagiarizing principal, Joe Biden, Mrs. Dalloway and more.

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  1. Oh my God — LeBeau’s plagiarism policy was copied word for word from Cornel West’s course notes!!

    Half-seriously, why couldn’t he have plagiarized any one of the thousands of nearly-identical speeches produced by some Postmodern Graduation Speech Generator that are given every year at schools across America by totally *non-famous* people? He might as well have told them all to wear sunscreen.

  2. When I was growing up, a friend had a saying to the effect that everything that could be said had been said before so when he got up in the morning, he’d say “quote” and when he went to bed at night he’d say “unquote.”