Binks Is Here

Commentary on the World

UW - Why Not Backstab?

“In the spirit of why not?” you have chosen to break away from such mediocre schools as Princeton, Yale, Stanford, and Harvard and say, “Why not assume students are guilty of plagiarism?” and “Why not require students to submit their hard work to a US company to be used in perpetuity for profit?”

UW has decided to “make available” for use by faculty in all courses and departments. If you’re not familiar with it, it goes out and grabs information from the internet, research databases, and a few other places. It then indexes that data and compares it to a submitted student essay, showing the percent fit with other works. That I’m not as worried about… I mean, the institution is taking the default position of “you’re a cheater” and I’m extremely concerned with less-than-savvy professors misinterpreting results to suggest that you’ve illegitimately harvested information, but it’s not the worst of it.

The worst of it is that any paper you submit is held in perpetuity in’s database; where it will be used for-profit and, if your words ever match those of another student, will be shown in its entirety to some stranger from who-knows-where to demonstrate that the other student was apparently cheating.

I had a professor in the past who stated that she would not leave up her overheads long enough for people to copy them down because if they did so they would be violating her intellectual property - she thought it was inappropriate for students who had paid for the course to take down the slides because they belonged to her. Now, in order for students to have their work marked a professor can require us to just hand our work over to a possibly-evil company in another country who is not bound by Canadian privacy and accountability laws.

Make up your mind - if intellectual property is valuable, then I should have a right to control my own. If intellectual property is worthless, then who cares if I’m ripping off someone else. You can’t have it both ways.