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College Republicans Officer’s Collegian Column Removed For Plagiarism

Taking a page from his own party’s convention, a Penn State College Republicans officer is being examined for plagiarizing multiple national media outlets in a letter to the editor he authored in the Daily Collegian earlier this week.

The column has since been removed from the Collegian’s website but you can find the full text of the letter below broken down by paragraph and compared to the national outlets it is plagiarized from.

The College Republicans first posted a statement on their Facebook page Tuesday night highlighting the plagiarism and apologizing for the officer’s actions. Here’s the statement:

To Whom It May Concern,

In the world of politics and government, we strive to create and relate our opinions factually and without error, and any abuse or defilement of that is a matter that should not be taken lightly.

Today, our Chief of Staff has violated our code of morals by plagiarizing several news sources in his letter to the editor for the Daily Collegian. The Chief of Staff directly pulled several quotes from several sites such as the Wall Street Journal.

We took this matter seriously and acted swiftly to address the concern when it was called to our attention. The Chief of Staff’s final and rough draft have been reviewed, and we have concluded that he had no mal-intent, but this is still a serious issue to deal with accordingly.

We sincerely apologize to our readers, members and The Daily Collegian for this breach of trust and we will continue to lead the way in Republican values in the Centre County area.

With deep regards,
The Executive Board of The Penn State College Republicans

College Republicans President Michael Straw said the organization was first made aware of the inherent plagiarism when they posted the Collegian story on their Facebook page and a reader commented that parts of the column bore a striking resemblance to stories from national outlets. After investigating the claim on their own, they found the accusation to be true. Straw said he was “shocked” when he found out the column had been plagiarized.

The Collegian followed suit and issued an apology and full retraction on Wednesday. The Collegian’s editorial board says it was unaware of the plagiarism when the piece was published when reached for comment and, like all guest columns, only edited the column for accuracy and spelling.

“This mistake was one created without intent; we have no reason to believe the author knew the extent of his transgressions when his article was submitted,” the Collegian statement reads. “Further, our publication has worked with the College Republicans many times before, and there have been no other instances of such behavior occurring.”

Out of the eight paragraphs published, at least four contain some form of plagiarism, with three containing exact lifts from other sources. Below are screenshots from those paragraphs of the column before they were removed from the Collegian’s website shared along with the original source.

lede

So good so far.

Here’s the following two paragraphs, for continuity:

observertdc

wiredtdc

Vox is the source for the column’s fourth paragraph, which is one of the more blatant plagiarisms:

GOP

Here’s what was published in the letter to the editor:

collegian

The following paragraph is another direct lift, this one appearing to be from George Rasley of Conservative HQ:

hcq

From the College Republican’s column:

hcqtdc

Next is a single sentence, which comes pulled from a Washington Times story:

wtimes

(Note: if you can’t read that, it says: “An angry email sent to ‘Meet the Press’ host Chuck Todd by Mrs. Wasserman Schultz demanded negative coverage by MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski ‘must stop.'”)

The officer’s line offers the same information the exact same way:

wtimestdc

And the final two paragraphs:

intelligencetdc

gucifertdc

And so continues to political writing tribulations of Penn State students.

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About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.

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