swat history

The Mary Lyon Buildings

A response to the Phoenix

At 1:37 p.m. on the afternoon of the 10th, I finally recieved a response from The Phoenix to the three questions I posed to them.

I would like to quote the entire email sent to me by Dee Conner, the editor-in-chief of the Phoenix, but yesterday she asked me to remove the Phoenix's emails from my webpage, so I will only quote a few specific lines from her email. I hope this is acceptable.

Please explain, in detail, how you can qualify the plagiarism as 'unintentional'.
"Yes, plagiarism was committed. But neither the author of the article nor those editing it bore you any malice; there was no conscious effort on the part of the authors or editors to misrepresent your work as our own. ... Plagiarizing your material offered no conceivable benefit for us or our readers, and therefore, we concluded that it was unintentional."

First of all, if neither the Phoenix nor its readers would benefit from this plagiarism, then why did Seth Sias plagiarize the article in the first place, and why did The Phoenix publish an article that it would not benefit from? Furthermore, while it is nice to know that the author bore no malice towards me, disliking another person is not a prerequisite for plagiarizing their work.

Intentional plagiarism consists of taking another person's writings and presenting them as your own work, which is what Seth clearly did. Even if neither he nor the editors were not consciously trying to plagiarize my writing, it does not make his plagiarism 'unintentional' or any less deliberately executed.

Please tell me how the other two sources - Walton's book and the Mt. Holyoke webpage - were used in the writing of 'The diabolical origins of ML', citing specific pages and passages.
"From the web page http://www.mtholyoke.edu/marylyon/ we found out that Mary Lyon was a nineteenth century educator, founded Mount Holyoke College, and that she founded Mt. Holyoke in 1837. ... All other information in the article came from Seth's previous knowledge of ML's history and your Web site."
Once again I would like to offer a side-by-side comparison of Seth's article (bold) and my website (italics):

Mary Lyon, the school’s namesake, was a prominent nineteenth century educator who founded Mount Holyoke College in 1837.
The boarding school took its name, Mary Lyon, from a prominent 19th century female educator who founded Mount Holyoke College in 1837.

The only difference is a slight variation on "Mary Lyon, the school's namesake," and "The boarding school took its name, Mary Lyon," a difference that is slight at best. Given that it appears Seth clearly plagiarized this sentence from my webpage, I find it impossible to believe that he would then go to Mt. Holyoke's website, search around for information relating to Mary Lyon, and then cite it as his own research.

The information published on page 55 of Richard Walton's "Swarthmore College: An Informal History" contains the information that The Phoenix claims it used from the book, but the sentences in which that information is presented still have an uncanny resemblance to what I wrote on my page.

I find it amazing that the Phoenix's editor would claim that Seth used any of his previous knowledge of ML in writing an article that they have already admitted he plagiarized.

Finally, please explain exactly why you changed your statement from "The Phoenix has indeed committed a grave mistake" to "[the article] constituted an act of plagiarism, albeit unintentional."
"I don't see this as a change in statement at all. The latter is more specific as to what the problem was..."
Admission of a 'grave mistake' is substantially different from an admission that they had committed plagiarism. When I met with representatives from the Phoenix on the night of Tuesday, October 2, they told me that the "grave mistake" was their failure to cite my website as a source for their article and assured me that they had not committed plagiarism.

It seems likely that they were hoping that I would allow them to pass off the plagiarism as a failure to properly cite sources; if this is true, it would have been entirely unethical to not admit a plagiarism they knew they had committed.

absolut swarthmore
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