U-Va. Newspaper Editors Faced Trumped-up Charges After Revealing Reporter’s Alleged Plagiarism.

After editors of The Cavalier Daily, discovered blatant plagiarism by a staff reporter last month, they reported the offense to their readers, reported it to the university’s student-run Honor Committee and removed the compromised articles from the paper’s website.

Only to find five editors facing formal charges of breaching the University’s Code of Conduct two days later, a charge punishable by expulsion, according to an Oct. 19 Washington Post article.

According to Student Press Law Center (SPLC) and the Washington Post, Anna Marie McKenzie, student and Honor Committee Chair, filed charges against the five student editors through the University of Virginia’s Judiciary Committee. Four of the five charges were dropped, until only Jason Ally, editor in chief, remained on the chopping block, according to the Washington Post.

Jason Ally, editor in chief of the Cavalier Daily found not guilty. Photo Courtesy: http://www.cavalierdaily.com Photo by: Scott Miles

McKenzie alleged the newspaper’s editorial board breached the confidentiality of the reporter’s Honor Committee investigation and the University’s Code of Conduct by publishing the Sept. 12 editorial that announced the plagiarism to Cavalier Daily readers, according to SPLC. (Find The Cavalier Daily editorial here).

The Cavalier Daily editors concealed the identity of the reporter and their work. “The reason: They had reported him to the Honor Committee, a panel that goes to great lengths to protect the identities of alleged offenders,” according to the Washington Post.

“We took every possible step to conceal the identity of the author,” Ally said. “The initial editorial we ran disclosing the plagiarism incident did not include the writer’s name, the writer’s gender, what section the writer worked for or even the titles of the published stories.”

 

The editors full-filled the newspaper’s responsibility to the community they served by reporting the offense. The Cavalier Daily’s editorial board straddled the regulations and ethics of the journalism world and the University’s Code of Conduct admirably with grace and aplomb.

Yet, the editors were thrown under scrutiny and judgement with trumped-up charges. One wonders what McKenzie’s thoughts were as she filed charges against her fellow students. Petty angst? Blinded by power? Or, did she really believe the Sept. 12 editorial violated the confidential identity and impartiality of judgement concerning the word-thief?

On Oct. 18, over a month since the incident occurred, Ally was cleared by the University Judiciary Committee of violating the university’s Code of Conduct by publishing the damning editorial.

Thank god.

What do you think we should take away from this? Was this a case of power hungry bureaucracy run rampart? Or, democracy in a real world application?

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My Senior Goodbye @The_BV

It is customary for graduating senior editors to write a goodbye editorial as their final sign off from The Bona Venture. Here is my published attempt at a goodbye to one of the greatest influences on my journalism career to date.

I’m not very good at this.

The whole writing about myself thing was never my strong suit. I’ve never splashed myself across the pages of The Bona Venture with any lessons learned. I’ve never mentioned a personal detail or a life lesson which imparted words of wisdom in an editorial.

Words of wisdom?

Please, I’m still trying to figure out Internet banking. I’ve called the bank’s service company for my password at least eight times this semester.

Not to mention cleaning my room and doing laundry typically count as real accomplishments for a day. I even check it off the to-do list to feel like a champ. Nothing more exciting than crossing that s– off in a vibrant lime green highlighter.

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Enrollment shows influx of new students

St. Bonaventure University increased enrollment for the fall 2010 semester, Ann Lehman, registrar, wrote in an e-mail.

Total enrollment for the fall 2010 semester was 2,519, an increase of 253 students from the spring 2010 semester’s 2,266, Lehman wrote.

More than 800 new students enrolled at the university this semester, Kathryn Dillon Hogan, associate vice president of enrollment, wrote in an e-mail.

The boost in enrollment is attributed to an increase in the number of freshmen, transfer students and graduate students from fall 2009 to fall 2010.

Enrolled for the semester are 523 graduate students, with 1,996 undergrads; an increase from the spring 2010 semester’s enrollment of 1,831 undergraduates.

Bonaventure welcomed 92 new transfer students, Lehman wrote, and retained 80.4 percent of the freshman from the previous academic year.

“Retention is the result of efforts by all areas of the university community,” Nancy Casey, director of First-Year Experience, wrote in an e-mail. “On a campus such as ours, it is fostered by providing positive residential and social environments that complement and support challenging academic experiences.”

Casey suggested the First-Year Experience played a key role in retaining students.

“The First-Year Experience is continuing to support positive transition … by offering programming in academic areas, collaborating with residence life and other areas of the university,” Casey wrote.

Published by The Bona Venture on Sept. 24, 2010

http://media.www.thebv.org/media/storage/paper1111/news/2010/09/24/News/Enrollment.Shows.Influx.Of.New.Students-3935828.shtml

Blaze teaches fire safety

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Members of the Allegany Fire Department set fire to a mock dorm room on the front lawn of Devereux Hall Wednesday in an effort to educate students on fire safety.

The 8-foot-by-8-foot room constructed of plywood and plaster was furnished with a bed, microwave, desk, extension cords and other legal and illegal accessories typically found in a dorm room.

The fire ravaged the room in just 2 minutes and 45 seconds; all contents were turned into a mass of charred remains and melted twisted plastic.

“Fire safety is a primary concern,” Ralph Aloia, a fire and life safety officer, said. “It just takes one minute for a fire to get out of control.”

The Allegany Fire Department, the Medical Emergency Response Team and Safety and Security volunteered personnel and materials to assist during the blaze.

The mock dorm fire cost less than $300 out of the fire and safety budget, Vito Czyz, director of Safety and Security, said.

Czyz took the time before the demonstration to explain to students the importance of fire safety. He said the loss of a life to a fire breaking out is preventable with smart choices and education.

“I report at least one fire safety hazard a day,” Aloia said. “Typically, it is an exit light out, doors propped open, but unfortunately, this campus’ No. 1 problem is the tampering of fire safety devices such as fire extinguishers. That is a life safety device, and tampering with them can get people arrested for it.”

Along with the visual of the burning mock dorm room, Safety and Security gave out pamphlets on fire safety awareness.

“Watching that fire made me so nervous, I’m going to sleep with one eye open and check my smoke detector,” said Hayley Calcagno, a sophomore.

“Many students are unaware of what will produce these flames,” Czyz said. “Alcohol, cooking, smoking and the use of extension cords are all sources of dorm room fires. I hope this demonstration educates them, and they make fire safety apart of their daily lives.”

Matt Schweiger, a freshman, said he now has the right perspective about fire safety.

“I was really surprised about just how fast it all went up,” Schweiger said. “It just took a minute for the smoke and flame to cover everything. This definitely put fire safety in perspective, and I hope they do this next year.”

Approximately 200 onlookers attended the mock dorm fire, according to Czyz.

“There are over 3,000 dorm fires a year, averaging 40 deaths across the United States on college campuses alone,” Czyz said. “Many of them are alcohol-related.

“We hope this really drives home to students how important fire safety is,” Czyz said.

Emily Magavern contributed to the reporting of this story.

Published by The Bona Venture on Sept. 17, 2010

http://media.www.thebv.org/media/storage/paper1111/news/2010/09/17/News/Blaze.Teaches.Fire.Safety-3932687.shtml