Writing Center
Gina Evers, Director of the Writing Center. (Photo by William Biersack)

by Joseph Burge

NEWBURGH—The Mount Saint Mary College (MSMC) Writing Center hosted a plagiarism awareness pizza party on Fri. Mar. 20 in the Aquinas Hall Atrium from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event had pizza along with three plagiarism awareness stations to inform students about the pitfalls of plagiarism and ways to prevent unintentional trappings.

“It was held to create an open discussion about plagiarism as it has been heavily demonized on campus,” said Writing Center director Gina Evers. “This event was able to clarify what is plagiarism and how to address it.”

Evers said the event was strategically placed midday to attract students with pizza and teach them how to avoid plagiarism.

In order to receive a slice of pizza one needed to ask a question about citations or plagiarism, or participate in the activities provided at the event.

A table named the “citation station” was present and this gave out literature for the correct ways to cite different sources, given the difficulty in associating different informational mediums with the proper method of citing each one.

Students coming to this station were unaware that incorrect citations were also grounds for plagiarism, even if they are well intended.

Emily DiBiase, a tutor for the Writing Center, said that when a citation or reference is done incorrectly it is still plagiarism because the author was not credited properly. It is never acceptable to bend the rules of citations to make a paper look more appealing.

Through the Writing Center’s portal there is a section titled “The P Word,” this area details the specifics of plagiarism, how to avoid it, the college’s academic policy, and instances when employees have been fired because of it.

The Writing Center has a class on Turnitin.com that any student can enroll into and it will check the assignment for originality before it’s submitted to the professor. This submission to the Writing Center assists students with proper citation and provides proof for the professor if the assignment’s authenticity is in question.

Another station had multiple laptops with games that would quiz users on citations and plagiarism with a chance to win gift cards for high scores and playing.

All attendees were given forms to fill out, including a quiz with sample quotes that were plagiarized. Participants were given the original piece they were taken from and needed to identify which type plagiarism it was. It was encouraged for students to attend each station at the event so they could collect clues to answer the questions quiz provided. Completion of the quiz was also awarded an entry to receive gift cards for finding correct answers.

A display was present showing some influential people have been caught in the trap of plagiarism before. Such people are Vice President Joe Biden, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the band Led Zeppelin. This board, in particular, showed that even the best fall into plagiarism.

Writing Center representatives Courtney Brigham, Emily DiBiase, and Gina Evers encouraged participants to vet their papers with the Writing Center before submitting them. Their office will correct any technical mistakes and, in the spirit of this event, will review the information to see if it was cited correctly.