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What a fun week it's been. Not.

So glad that I have next week off. This week has been just horrendous, concluding (so far) with the squirrel in the fireplace.

It's not like anything majorly bad happened, just a bunch of little things, on top of being overcommitted and traveling too much this semester (6 trips to Chicago since August), which makes me feel like I'm always behind (which I am).

Last week, term paper drafts were due for most of my upper-division class (I tried a staggered set of deadlines to reduce the workload, and it worked, except I still did all of the grading at the very last minute). Thursday morning, I went to start grading them, and the first one I started with wasn't in one of the acceptable formats for the assignment. Now, one of the reasons I assign slightly offbeat assignments that they have to think more carefully about the structure and organization of the paper to meet the requirements. It also makes it easier for me to find cheaters. Like this paper, which was written like a standard term paper. My antennae went up, and five seconds of Googling found me the paper. The entire paper. Every single word of three single-spaced pages, right there on the screen. For bonus irony points, it was a paper by someone I know from another university, but that's beside the point.

Plagiarism pisses me off. Not just for the obvious reasons, but because it makes me lose my trust in students. I don't want to police their work. I don't to make them use TurnItIn and therefore indicate that I don't trust them. I know most students are trustworthy and honest (heck, a lot of my f'list is college students, and you're awesome people!). But every time it happens (and it happens about once a year, although never as blatantly as this), I lose a little more faith. And that makes me mad.

I e-mailed the student and said they were getting a zero on the draft and if they wanted to write the final paper (due in two weeks), they would have to pick a new topic. They didn't respond and didn't come to class on Friday (not that this particular student comes to class more than 1 out of 3 times anyway). We'll see what happens after the break.

Then last night, we came home to find that the squirrel that had been making noises in the chimney had gotten past the flue and was curled up on the hearth. We never use our fireplace, and the glass screen thankfully seals it off from the rest of the room. The squirrel was moving, but not really trying hard to get out. We called animal control, and they said it was probably trying to sleep since it had gotten dark, and by morning it would probably climb its way back out.

Well, by morning, it wasn't going anywhere, because it was stiff. :( So we carried it out of there (and when I say "we", I mean Mr. Z) and buried it in the backyard. We regularly have ants and ladybugs and mice in our house, but that's by far the largest creature that's made its way in. Poor little guy.

Hope y'all are having a better week than me...



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 19th, 2011 09:55 pm (UTC)
Man, the cheating thing is just ... incredible. You'd think they'd just reword some stuff to make it less obvious, but ... IDK I'm kind of amused (and surprised) it only took 5 seconds of googling to find the whole thing, and most of all that it's someone you know.

And squirrels! At our house in Berwyn, a typical bungalow, we got squirrels in the walls of the attic, which was actually my room, when we were replacing the soffit and facia one summer. We wound up putting traps in the walls to catch them and when they made noise, we knew we got one and took 'em out (we being my dad, I'm sensing a trend here ;-)). But then come winter, my dad went into the walls for something else and found a dead squirrel who'd obviously been so quiet we didn't know it was there :(
Nov. 21st, 2011 03:00 am (UTC)
It's like a colleague and I were joking last night: can't they at least go to the second page of hits on Google to find a paper to copy? Although I do have the advantage that all I need to do is copy and paste a sentence into Google and, voila.

A moment of silence for the squirrels, please.

Edited at 2011-11-21 03:00 am (UTC)
Nov. 19th, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised you offered your student the opportunity to turn in the final paper. At my school, plagiarism is an automatic fail, a letter to the Dean, and a mark on record.
Nov. 21st, 2011 03:03 am (UTC)
We have the option to choose from failing them for the assignment all the way to failing them for the class. I'm sure there wouldn't be an argument if I chose to do the latter, but the student will probably fail anyway, given that they've been inconsistent all semester.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 21st, 2011 03:03 am (UTC)
IKR? It's like, if they can find it on the Internet, don't they realize I can, too?

Poor squirrel, indeed.

*hugs you back*
Nov. 20th, 2011 01:50 am (UTC)
Sorry you had such a crap week.

Isn't cheating on a paper in this day and age a little like cheating at solitaire; The only one you are screwing is yourself?

The thing with the squirrel sucks plain and simple. But thanks heaven for Mr.Z
Nov. 21st, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)
The only one you are screwing is yourself

That's why I didn't go with as harsh of a penalty as I could have. That, and it's kind of a hassle to carry out the whole failing-them-for-the-course thing.
Nov. 20th, 2011 02:06 am (UTC)
Aw, I'm sorry about your week. *hugs*

When I was a TA, I caught several people cheating. Each and every time, it made me a little sick to my stomach. ):
Nov. 21st, 2011 03:06 am (UTC)
Thanks, hon. *hugs back*

Exactly. I felt sick all morning. Still waiting to get a response from the student, too. :(
Nov. 20th, 2011 02:08 am (UTC)
HUGS!!!! Just HUGS!!! So sorry. Cheating so sorry you had that happen trust is so fragile.
Nov. 21st, 2011 03:07 am (UTC)
Thanks. *hugs back*
Nov. 20th, 2011 11:36 am (UTC)
I hope next week will be much much better! *hugs*

Omg with the cheating! ugh. how stupid and arrogant can you be??
Nov. 21st, 2011 03:09 am (UTC)
Me too, bb. Thanks. *hugs back*

IKR? I'm thankful it's a rare occurrence. Or at least rare that I catch someone. :/
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )