Plagiarism and Feelings at Amherst

Carleen Basler, a professor at Amherst who said she struggled with her writing, resigned after she was caught plagiarizing and the Amherst Student did a good job covering the story. So far, so good. But Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit notices a few odd paragraphs in the paper’s report:

Since some believe that Basler did not ask for help because she didn’t feel that Amherst was a safe and understanding place, both faculty and students brought to the forefront the issue of creating a better environment in which people feel more comfortable coming forward with their academic problems.“I think the important part of it, I guess, is that I feel that there’s a lot that we can learn about how to support vulnerabilities and deficits,” Professor Karen Sánchez-Eppler said. “How do we as an institution make it a place where when people feel that they’re getting stuck — and I think that this is true for our students as well as our faculty — that when they’re feeling stuck, they can say ‘I’m stuck, help me,’ and not try to cover it up? That’s the kind of soul-searching that we as an institution need to do.”

Reynolds writes: “So, wait, academic fraud — apparently going all the way back to the dissertation — is somehow because the institution isn’t a “safe and understanding place?” With all the people looking for academic jobs, what could account for this attitude? Well, she teaches White Identity. Plus: ‘Coming from a Mexican-American background, she was particularly interested in the diversity of the student body.’ Imagine that she was a white male Republican, instead of a probable affirmative-action diversity-studies hire. Same response to plagiarism?

John Leo

John Leo

John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

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