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John Mather


The last thing that Diane Schulman told me and Features Editor Jesse McLean as we left her office on Monday was: “Make it a nice article.”

Well, nice is a bland and ambiguous word — so I’m going to go ahead and say the story you (hopefully) just read was nice. And, at the very least, compelling.

We should constantly hold Turnitin to intense scrutiny, no matter how much it becomes part of campus routine. During the course of reporting this story, the one thing all parties agreed on is that in a perfect world, there would be no Turnitin, just as there would be no plagiarists.

Almost everyone the Eyeopener spoke with expressed interest in finding an alternative — one that didn’t raise serious legal, copyright and privacy issues.

However, I fear, Turnitin will become the norm — an accepted tool in the war on plagiarism.

This is dangerous. Why? Because Turnitin is, at best, a stop-gap solution. And no quick fix should ever be made permanent.

Therefore, in order to prevent Turnitin from slipping far back into our campus consciousness, the Eyeopener wants students to opt out.

Remember: You must do it within the first two weeks of a class.

Whether you think it’s evil condensed into an algorithm or just a handy tool that keeps your peers honest, if the debate on Turnitin dies, we all lose.

By opting out, we can remind administration and professors that there are other ways to fight plagiarism.

What struck me in the 700 pages of documents was how discussion on the pros and cons of the software was often dismissed for, as one objector put it, “bureaucratic effiency.”

It wasn’t until Ken Marciniec and RyeSAC (now RSU) fought for students’ right to opt out that administration listened to the opposition.

And again, it is up to us, the students, to fight to have a say in how our integrity is to be judged. The RSU is still taking the charge — it was your union that offered the secret history of Turnitin to the Eyeopener.

So here’s the deal: school yourself about Turnitin, then make your own decision about whether it is good for you and your academic career.

And if you think it’s not, then opt out in the first two weeks of next semester. Just think about it.

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