Writer’s Block: Censure is not enough
As a writer, it should surprise no one that I am against plagiarism.
There appears to be only two options available to the board: censure or removal.
At first, the board censured him. This carries absolutely no penalties.
Since September, I have had to listen to certain school board members and other Matt Rustad supporters say he has been punished enough.
How can he be considered to be punished enough when censure carries no penalties? There has been no punishment.
As a kid, I knew what the penalty was for getting caught lying and stealing. And it was not my parents saying, “We don’t agree with what you did.”
I received a call from one of his supporters asking if I felt Rustad had been punished and if I thought removal was necessary.
I left no doubt about if I thought this was punishment was enough.
As for removal, I don’t think the school board should have been put in that position. Rustad should resign.
But not only for plagiarism.
A couple of months have passed since he was caught using a blog entry in nearly original form. Rustad has not once offered a public apology and he has been telling several versions of why he used the blog entry as his column in the district’s monthly newsletter.
He is an elected official in a school district – the place responsible for the education of future adults.
What is Rustad teaching these students? And what are his supporters saying to students by repeatedly saying he has been punished enough? Do they really hold Rustad to a lower standard than the students of the district?
First time offenders at University of Minnesota, Mankato, the college from where I graduated, receive one-year probation, have to attend an academic integrity workshop and have to write a letter of apology to the professor, according to the student handbook.
They also get a zero on the assignment or a reduced letter grade in the course.
Depending on the course, students in programs such as speech communication receive an F for any type of plagiarism, according to the handbook.
I am sure most colleges have similar penalties.
St. Francis High School students face similar penalties if they are caught plagiarizing.
Last I knew Rustad was a college student studying criminal justice.
I would think he would be familiar with what plagiarism is, despite his claims that he did not learn much about plagiarism as a home-schooled student.
To me that sounds like an excuse.
My college days are long behind me, but I recall plagiarism being covered during student orientation.
Perhaps he missed that day as he has missed most of his district committee meetings as well as all of the meetings for the school he is assigned to as a liaison.
Rustad has only given one school board member report since he was sworn in and that was on Oct. 22, the night the board discussed his potential removal.
As Rustad’s column, which newsletter staff trusted him to do properly, was published in The Courier, he should take out a full page ad and apologize for his “mistake.”
He needs to pay for this ad, which runs about $455, out of his own pocket – with no help from supporters or family members.
Rustad has been advised by his supporters to sue the district for the treatment he is getting. He is the one who did wrong and the board is trying to address that. And for Rustad’s supporters to threaten a lawsuit is wrong and shows they are not looking out for the students.
Rustad should take personal responsibility, no more excuses. Resign.