Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On Derek Reeve's failure to be honest

     As you know, controversial San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Derek Reeve is on the faculty of Saddleback College and he is enrolled at Claremont Graduate University, where he is seeking a doctorate.
     Recently, we learned that he's a plagiarist, one who offers others' words and ideas as though they are his own.
     According to his faculty profile at the Saddleback College website, Reeve expects to finish his doctorate in 2013:
CLAREMONT GRADUATE UNIVERSITY [CGU] – Doctorate of Philosophy, 2013 Major: Political Science;  Double Academic Emphasis: International Relations and American Politics;  Sub-emphasis: International Terrorism; U.S. Constitutional Law and Interpretation
     I checked, and, unsurprisingly, CGU has a policy on Academic Honesty, one that mentions plagiarism. According to the policy,
The ideal of academic honesty is crucial to the integrity of a college or university; conversely, academic dishonesty undermines the very basis upon which institutions of higher education are organized and function. All students at Claremont Graduate University are expected to meet the highest standards of honesty in the performance of their academic work….
. . .
The Standards of Academic Honesty proscribe (but are not limited to) the giving or receiving of unauthorized help in examinations or other assignments, plagiarism and other unacknowledged or undocumented use of source material, and forgery. [My emphases.*]
     Such standards are utterly familiar to any academic. CGU’s conception of “academic honesty” is typical. So is its rejection of plagiarism.
     CGU’s policy on Academic Integrity explains “plagiarism” as follows:
     Plagiarism is a serious academic offense, which will lead to disciplinary procedures when detected. ... Faculty members are required to report all cases of apparent plagiarism to the office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs. Most plagiarism occurs unintentionally, due to ignorance of academic expectations on citing sources. However, ignorance is no defense in cases of plagiarism….
. . .
     Plagiarism is a serious violation of academic ethical standards….
. . .
     The range of definitions [of plagiarism] is illustrated by the following examples:
• "Plagiarism...means trying to pass off someone else's work as your own."
• "Plagiarism … means using another person's language or ideas without acknowledgement."
• "Plagiarism is defined as the attempt to fob off another's thought or language as one's own..."
• "Fundamentally, plagiarism is the offering of the words or ideas of another person as one's own.. . .
The key to avoiding plagiarism is documentation. When you take words, ideas or facts, which are not common knowledge from someone else, cite your source…. [My emphasis.]
     I doubt that one could find an institution of higher education in this country that did not have policies regarding academic honesty that are essentially similar to CGU’s. That is, throughout academia, students and professors are expected to be “academically honest,” and the most familiar element of any account of academic honesty is its rejection of plagiarism—i.e., its rejection of the passing off of others’ ideas and writing as one’s own.
     Naturally, CGU’s primary concern is with Reeve’s conduct as a student and as a scholar. One might suppose, therefore, that his conduct outside that realm—e.g., as a contributor to political blogs or newsletters—is of no relevance to them or to academia. That supposition is dubious, I think.
     Let’s return to Saddleback College, where Reeve has worked for six or seven years as an Associate Faculty. As it turns out, a dozen years ago, Saddleback College faculty adopted a “Faculty Code of Ethics and Professional Standards.” It quotes a familiar American Association of University Professors statement:
"Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it. To this end professors devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. They practice intellectual honesty…." (AAUP Statement, 1990) [My emphasis.]
The Saddleback “code” goes on to require that
Faculty exhibit intellectual honesty and integrity in all scholarly endeavors.
     The point I'm making is simple. Qua scholar and qua college faculty, Reeve is expected to be honest, and, obviously, one aspect of honesty is not passing off other’s writings and ideas as one’s own—even in less-than-scholarly settings. Jenna Chandler’s recent piece in the SJC Patch makes very clear that Mr. Reeve does exactly that—he passed off others’ ideas and writings as his own—and he has done so repeatedly. He cannot be trusted to argue honestly; he certainly cannot be trusted to instill academic honesty in his students.
     Who knows. Perhaps this will make him more attractive to his hooting Neanderthalic supporters—a loutish crew known for anti-intellectualism and a suspicion of science. But to academics, Reeve is a scholar and teacher who has failed to internalize or accept what is utterly central to academic life: honesty.**

*Tea Partiers, the word "emphases" is the plural form of the word "emphasis."
**Mr. Reeve is turning out to be quite the lout, what with his willingness to engage in juvenile taunts of Muslims and repeated intellectual theft. Why am I not surprised that he is also pious?

• Matt Coker has noticed the Reeve saga, including this latest chapter.
• The OC Reg's Frank Mickadeit updates: Did city councilman plagiarize?
…"Did City Councilman Plagiarize?" editor Jenna Chandler asked in the headline over her story. The weight of the evidence she presents combined with Reeve's lack of a credible response makes it difficult to reach any other conclusion….

16 comments:

  1. How long ahs he been on the council? Where does his support come from? Who oversees him at Saddleback?

    ReplyDelete
  2. He was elected to office in December of 2010 - will serve until 2014. After that, the sky is the limit.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Reeve was elected last November. His support comes from the far right. At the last City Council meeting, Barbara Coe's anti-immigrant crowd was there to cheer him on. Essentially, his supporters are the Tea Partiers.
    Reeve's interim dean is Bruce Kinghorn. Just go to the Saddleback College website.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kinghorn is the dean - but everyone knows that the deans have to much to do so that observations and evaluations fall to faculty - mostly the chairs who have too much to do - teach AND manage departments so what happens? This happens. It's not the dean's fault or the chair's - it's the system that doesn't value accountability. It's been like this for years. Everyone just pretends otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
  5. 9:05, sure, but the problem with Reeve isn't something likely to be uncovered in the course of a typical evaluation, with its emphasis on observation of teaching. I don't blame Kinghorn or his predecessor for failing to find these problems. But I do hope he (or someone) will now take a look at the problems that have come to light in the last week or so--not Reeve's politics or incivility, but his unprofessional use of Facebook and his apparent plagiarism. I think that his plagiarism is particularly damning. How can we trust an instructor who repeatedly represents others' writings as his own to teach academic honesty and integrity in the classroom? Well, we can't. To suggest otherwise is absurd. (Not that you are doing that.)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Shouldn't he resign, like from everything?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think people do this kind of thing out of desperation - and I am not surprised when it coems from students, especially young ones - not from a mature adult who is teaching, studying law and representing people on a city council.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Saddleback will do nothing because that is the easiest thing to do. Then they will say nothing about the nothing they have done. As always.

    Good point about the absence of true oversight versus the appearance of oversight. We have not had true oversight for over a decade.

    Shakes head, walks away.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your blog's appearance looks very strange. FYI.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Talk about trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. Since when are blogs governed by the rules of academia? At least when his term is done at SJC, he'll have Obamacare to fall back on... Maybe he'll get those crooked teeth fixed? Yes?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Reeve's failure to be honest? Since when have you or this blog ever been honest? Three fingers pointing back!

    ReplyDelete
  12. 12:50, give us proof or shut up.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Reeve's own silence, his lack of explanation, is a bit disturbing.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Three fingers pointing back is one of Mathur's favorite expressions. Too bad he didn't plagiarize: he would have had some fresh material rather than exceptionally stale bromides.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Of course, he *should* resign from everything--and be encouraged/urged/forced to do so, if he does not do so willingly.

    Thanks for a really nice piece, BvT.

    ReplyDelete

Trolls and flamers will be cursed by our team of black magicians