Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow has been under fire this semester after the Student Services Fees Committee found evidence that members may have plagiarized some of the group’s fees request.
Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Danita Brown Young told the Minnesota Daily that she will revisit the fees procedure this summer. In order to make fees allocation — a long, often complex process for many student groups — easier, we hope that Brown Young and the SSFC make the handbook more transparent on plagiarism issues.
It should be clear what student groups can and cannot do in terms of using information from other groups or even their own organization. The current handbook contains no specific information on this topic.
CFACT President Rachel Jansen told the Daily in March that it’s a common practice for student groups to base their fees applications off those from similar groups. If this is the case, then the SSFC has a wider, long-term problem to amend. Without a rule to point to, the committee seems to be arbitrarily penalizing CFACT.
CFACT’s predicament may also bring up additional questions about what constitutes as plagiarism. For example, can student groups self-plagiarize by using past applications and presentations? In an academic setting, this would constitute plagiarism, but because there are not clear expectations of student groups, this seems to be commonplace and practical.
We hope Brown Young and the committee can ensure this won’t be a problem for student groups in the future.