Dear Sir

By Daniel Harris                                                                                                         

Dear Sir:

My name is Ryan Dunham, and I am writing to you today regarding the accusations that Professor Hartnell, of the English Department, has leveled against me on April 26th of this year. It is my intention to implore you to take action against Prof. Hartnell for his indecorous behavior, which has damaged my academic career and caused me to capitulate my scholarship. By the end of this letter, I am confident you will observe that the only fair decision is for you to prorogue his employment directly. Thank you for scrutinizing my case.

Throughout the semester, my attendance in Prof. Hartnell's class has been impeccable, except in cases of imperative absences such as malady and athletic events. I have never once been tardy to class, and I have completed all of my coursework with a modus operandi which my tutor, my parents, and my cousin's significant other (who is a tenured, full-time Professor at a prestigious institution known as Columbia) all consider satisfactory—in short, everyone except Prof. Hartnell. This includes a plethora of hours spent composing essays, which can be quite lugubrious especially if one operates closely with a thesaurus (as I invariably do). Therefore, there can be no justification for the deplorable grade of F I received except for the personal vendetta he has waged against me in his crusade against “plagiarism.”

Hopefully by now you have been persuaded that Prof. Hartnell must be terminated, but in case you have not, allow me now to briefly address the matter of so-called “academic dishonesty.” In Classical antiquity, Homer was a blind poet who performed his great classic works on stage for all to hear. But The Iliad was composed by many authors, and not just Homer, which proves people did not remonstrate in matters of “intellectual property.” If a genius epic poem such as The Iliad cannot be plagiarized, why is it that students are repudiated for borrowing from pedestrian websites such as Sparknotes? According to Wikipedia, “Modern copyright law has been influenced by an array of older legal rights” such as “a sovereign's right to censor.” But according to the Dictionary, a sovereign is “a monarch…or other supreme ruler.” I don't know about you, but I live in the United States of America, where we have democracy and the First Amendment. So it is clear to conclude from the evidence that “intellectual property” was never in fact an issue, and Prof. Hartnell is very clearly behaving unethically.

Now that I have demonstrated that plagiarism is a non-issue and that censure for it is therefore immoral, I will also prove that Prof. Hartnell actually encourages an atmosphere of plagiarism in his class, subtly manipulating students into committing these acts purely so that he can have the sick satisfaction of taking them into his office where he can tell them that they're going to fail and (in the case of females) probably hope to exchange a passing grade for sexual favors. (Make sure you investigate that, by the way, because rape is a heinous crime according to history and many sources.)

On the very first day of class, Prof. Hartnell orated at length about the jeopardy of plagiarism and academic dishonesty while ruminating over his syllabus. He articulated much about how reprehensible it is, but it is a thought worth consideration that a strictly-enforced plagiarism rule is inherently flawed because it will inevitably lead to false incrimination. What if a student's work coincidentally resembles an item ubiquitous on the Internet? Prof. Hartnell would not deign to acknowledge this question. Furthermore, the fact that he discussed plagiarism in the inaugural session set the tone of the class in a pessimistic and fatalistic light. He showed that he does not trust his students, and he also put the idea to plagiarize into all of his students' heads. According to the ancient Chinese philosopher, Mencius, all humans are born innocent. Therefore, it is impossible for students to know about plagiarism until the idea is introduced to them, and Prof. Hartnell is doing exactly that. Like a young woman who attends a party at a fraternity house in a miniskirt, he is essentially asking for it in a way. That students would plagiarize in Prof. Hartnell's class is practically demanded by Newtonian Determinism. Is it fair, then, to accuse and punish the ones who fall prey to his coquettish tantalization?

There are many endeavors that Prof. Hartnell could have assiduously pursued to prevent plagiarism from occurring in his classroom. He could have required the use of a plagiarism-checking website, which would have discouraged any students from deeming it possible to acquit themselves in cases of plagiarism. He could have exclusively employed in-class writing assignments and directly supervised his students. He could have personally contacted students he considered to be candidates at risk for plagiarism. He could have demonstrated the slightest shred of empathy and, upon playing “gotcha” to his satisfaction, offered his diligent student a respite. But Professor Hartnell neglected to perform any of these elementary actions. If I, a college freshman, can discover myriad ways to prevent plagiarism with a moment's meditation, why is it that Prof. Hartnell seemingly cannot? The answer is that he can, but chooses not to. He wishes for students to plagiarize because he derives a perverse pleasure in obliterating their reputations, grades, and scholarships. His classroom is a draconian, totalitarian farce which should not be permitted to survive.

Rosa Parks once said, “Each person must live their life as a model for others.” She also said, “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free.” Based on these quotes, I can only conclude that she and a tyrannical megalomaniac such as Prof. Hartnell would be dire enemies. I suppose Hartnell would construct a sign to invite everyone to sit at the front of the bus, with a smiley face and everything, and then when poor, sad, black little Rosa got on and sat at the front he would immediately cite centuries-old segregation statutes in order to justify lynching her. Because that is the kind of teacher Prof. Hartnell is. He should have been born in Nazi Germany, where he could have been an aide to Adolf Hitler and facilitated the deaths of countless innocent Jews by sending them cordial invitations to concentration camps.

In conclusion, please fire Professor Hartnell because his continued existence at this University is a blight upon its reputation which is otherwise not too bad. And then fix my grade, please, so that I can keep my scholarship. I need at least a B. Thank you for your time.



Ryan Dunham

Concerned Student