I could not believe my eyes to read in this week’s issue of the South Dakota State University (SDSU) Collegian newspaper that last week’s plagiarism incident was only considered a mere mistake. I was told by the Collegian editor-in-chief, Ms. Poppinga, in one of our email exchanges last week that “we will take these concerns very seriously and will do what we feel is appropriate to rectify the situation.” I believe the necessary action taken this week is the one called “very seriously.” The “appropriate action” taken to rectify the BLUNDER was to publish a correction note in this week’s issue. It says:

In our April 14 issue, The Collegian ran a column submitted by Hassan Ali under the headline “Immigrants an asset, contribute to America.” Ali did not attribute and quote portions of his column to their proper source, the Service Employees International Union’s official website SEIU.org, specifically the page entitled “They take our jobs’ – Debunking Immigration Myths” found at http://www.seiu.org/a/immigration/they-take-our-jobs-debunking-immigration-myths.php.

Portions? So if 90 percent of the article had been copied, you can just call that portions? The correction is so misleading. Let me dissect the column by Hassan Ali “Immigrants an asset, contribute to America” approved and published by the Collegian Opinion Editor, Mr. Gorder.

First Paragraph:
As a Djiboutian immigrant, I am proud of my new home. America is a land of immigrants-a land of opportunity. For generations, many people who came here legally or illegally made great sacrifices and worked harder than even the citizens. In numbers, immigrants have made this country what it is today and what it was a hundred years ago.

Majority of these sentences were taken from reuters.com, particularly from this post, which, by the way, was not mentioned by the correction message released this week.

Second Paragraph:
Immigration reform is in the best interest of our country’s economy and prosperity. For too long Americans have watched their neighbors, friends, coworkers and family members get deported or removed. There is nothing wrong with world citizens wanting what we have here-public education, economic opportunity and a chance to make a better life.

Now read this comment posted from this site (which was not mentioned by the correction note, again!) If Hassan Ali and Fair Thinker are of the same entity, this can be forgiven. If they are not, then majority of the second paragraph had been clipped from another website.

The rest of the three remaining paragraphs were taken from the SEIU website, almost verbatim.

Now, tell me, is that a mere mistake? Is it enough to just pardon and say “Ali did not attribute and quote portions of his column to their proper source.” Is this justice served? “Portion” is not even the correct term. The editors could have taken a strong stand and mentioned that Ali had plagiarized an article online. How difficult is it really to mention that the SDSU Collegian published a plagiarized column? Is plagiarism a word hard to accept for the editors? Should this Google search result be a valid reason to avoid the word?

And why did the correction note only mentioned the SEIU website and never the other links? Also, as of this writing – Tuesday morning – Ali’s column can still be found posted on the SDSU Collegian website. Don’t you think it is just right to have the column taken off the web?

When would the SDSU Student Code on Plagiarism [01:10:25:02] apply then; the provision carries disciplinary probation to expulsion?

The editor-in-chief may have already talked to the opinion editor and Ali about the issue, but not letting the student body know that it was a clear case of plagiarism (not just portions copied and missed attributions) is deception.