Rat out a plagerist?
January 28, 2011 11:36 AM   Subscribe

A grad school friend of mine submitted a short story for a major literary magazine competition and won. It also seems she plagiarized the work. I'm not sure how to handle this or her subsequent behavior.

A week after winning the award she called in a panic to tell me she thought she'd unconsciously borrowed from an already published piece. She sent me both pieces and, except for the character names and the exact wording, the stories were very, very similar...similar in shape, concept, story arc, narrative, beats, etc. In fact, a handful of lines were directly lifted. It was basically the same story. And entirely the same idea.

Since my friend is fragile who easily turns hostile, and since I avoid conflict with her as much as possible, I agreed when she suggested that she notify the editor of the journal. I even helped her write the letter to the editor. The story was revoked, the winner now the second place entry.

Obviously, my friend did not want word of this to spread. She kept mentioning her integrity, how this could jeopardize her academic or creative career, how embarrassed she was, and how big of a deal the department had made about this award. She assured me that she was unaware she had "borrowed" from the previously published work. And, for the most part, I believed her.

A few days later she mentioned that she was also up for a major prize at the university. The prize is based on one's publication record, among other things, and she was afraid that if they found out she hadn't won the lit award she wouldn't win the university prize. She approached the dept head - who, herself, is unprofessional and often entangled in drama -- and was assured that everything was fine. In describing the interaction, she told me the department head "had her back." The only other professor she told promised "not to mention it to anyone."

Needless to say, she won the University Prize.

All of this is lousy but today I was told by a former close friend of hers that she'd admitted to "rewriting" a story from an obscure journal for a writing workshop about a year ago. She told her friend that the journal was so obscure no one would recognize the original piece. She said she changed enough of the story to make it less obvious. And she later went on to say the work was well received by the class and the professor.

So, my friend has either plagiarized twice or once and lied to me, an editor, two professors, and, possibly, herself. I feel taken advantage of but I'm not sure if raising this to her would be productive. In the end, she did sort of come clean to the editor, a few friends,and the professors, regardless of how she sold it, and the story will not be published,. But, am I obliged to alert the university? And, how, if at all, would you handle this with her?
posted by mizrachi to Writing & Language (51 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Raising it with her is not going to be productive. Raising it with the university will just get you the enmity of the department head, because she went out on a limb for Plagiarize McBorrow-Stuff.

I would drop her as a friend. And I would tell the whole story to someone who doesn't like her, who would then spread it all over the place. But I'm vindictive like that; you may be a much finer person.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:38 AM on January 28, 2011 [17 favorites]

You don't know all the facts... but they're all drama filled and hideous. Its up to the university to check for plagiarism, that's their job. Stay well clear, say nothing and get a new friend. Do you really want to be associated, in ANY way, with this behavior?
posted by taff at 11:41 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Slooowly retreat. And no, you're not going to alert your University. Apparently, word trickels in any case; also, as we all know, plagiarism is often really easy to spot these days, so whoever gets interested will find out what's up. Not your task, I'd say.
posted by Namlit at 11:42 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

correct: trickles, sorry.
posted by Namlit at 11:43 AM on January 28, 2011

Nthing "do nothing, find a new friend." There is no upside to your getting involved in this or maintaining contact with this friend.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:44 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

Drop the friend. Anyone who is "fragile who easily turns hostile" will blow up in your face eventually. Trust me.

Depending on how much this weighs on your conscience, write an anonymous letter including the "borrowed from" work to the organizer of the contest, and the organizer of the academic prize. No need to include the department chair. No need to even put your own name into this problem.

And honestly, as both an academic and a writer, I would be very upset to find out any supposed friend of mine had done this, to the point of likely having a very loud, very unhappy yelling match with them, going to all of the parties mentioned, and what not. But you are not me. To avoid confrontation and do the right thing, do it anonymously.
posted by strixus at 11:45 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

in situations like this i find it helpful to ask myself two questions - "what am i hoping the outcome is?" and "how likely is that outcome?"

it doesn't seem to me from your description that the outcome will be anything besides more drama. if you see a cow pie in the middle of the street, it's best to step around it lest you get shit in your shoes.
posted by nadawi at 11:48 AM on January 28, 2011 [9 favorites]

You have no evidence to present about this second alleged plagiarism, just hearsay. Drop the friendship and avoid entangling yourself in her drama.
posted by asciident at 11:48 AM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]

Sounds like there isn't very much to hold up the sky in your friend's universe. Let nature take its course, and make sure you're a safe distance away when everything comes crashing down.
posted by BobbyVan at 11:50 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

Two readings of this situation. A: she was deliberately deceitful and only came forward to you and to the editor because she thought she was about to get caught. B: she's telling the truth, in that she really did borrow unconsciously, and from then on has been trying to do the right thing, including contacting the editor and the university.

In the end you can't prove that anyone has been lied to here. I agree I this anecdotal evidence of admitted past plagiarism does increase the likelihood of scenario A. But raising a fuss is likely to backfire because scenario B is plausible enough that she can claim it's true -- her actions seem to be consistent with scenario B -- and absent any further proof you just won't get any traction and you'll come off looking vindictive.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:50 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

She's fragile and quick to anger. She repeatedly puts herself in positions that are likely to generate drama. She then draws others into the drama.

It's hard to be friends with such a person. You feel like you were taken advantage of because that's actually the case. She used you to fuel the drama. And because of her fragility and tendency to hostility, you had to walk on eggshells.

I think it's time for you to turn your back on her and on this entire matter. Don't involve yourself in it any further.
posted by wryly at 11:55 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Stay the hell out of it. The only way to be involved and know that you're doing the right thing or even acting on accurate information is to become completely intimately involved and totally entangled in the whole mess. So just stay out.
posted by The World Famous at 11:56 AM on January 28, 2011

If true, the story suggests that she is likely to implode at some point in the not so distant future. Be far away when it happens. Your actual obligations depend on your Uni's policy; given your limited actual knowledge you probably aren't required to do anything.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:20 PM on January 28, 2011

I think she has plagiarized way more than just the two times you know about. I would do nothing and slowly but deliberately, back out of this "friendship". She is a liar and it will eventually come and bite your ass somehow.
posted by AugustWest at 12:25 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Turn the incident into a story and win a prize with it.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 12:25 PM on January 28, 2011 [19 favorites]

If I were a member of that University - I would want to know.

Perhaps I am old, but when I went to school, we had an honor code. The academic integrity of the institution is at stake, and you are going to let it slide because it is too much drama.

Why can't you send an anonymous note to a professor?
It degrades your own academic integrity to help conceal the fraud of others.
posted by Flood at 12:26 PM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]

i don't think many school honor codes would cover this level of hearsay. the plagiarism she directly knows about has already been reported to two faculty members and the other - well - it's really just gossip. the person who told her might be under some obligation depending on how direct their actual knowledge is, but the OP probably isn't required (or even requested) to repeat every bit of 2nd and 3rd hand gossip to the school.
posted by nadawi at 12:31 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sorry man, its always hard when you come to a realization that your "friends" aren't making your life better and you gotta drop them.

Also, it may take the university time...but there are probably ALL sorts of critics and jealous people within the department who will be going over her record/writing with a fine-tooth comb. Its just a matter of time till she gets busted. Don't worry about it. Just trust that people are jealous and have a lot of time on their hands.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:38 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Perhaps I am old, but when I went to school, we had an honor code.

It doesn't have anything to do with your age; not every university has an honor code, and among those that do, their requirements vary.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:39 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with finding a way to report your concerns anonymously. Perhaps after distancing yourself from her for a bit. Can you maybe find copies of her papers and the ones she lifted from? Send it all in and let them make their own conclusions. But honestly, I take the honor code seriously when I attend school, and people who cheat fuck it up for everyone else. Like, say, someone who actually deserved to win the University Prize did not.

You can't catch everyone, but if people are made an example of, it might discourage others. Anyway, it may seem insensitive. But I don't have sympathy for people who cheat at school, because I don't, and the thought of them outperforming my (honest) work with their (cheating) work is very discouraging. Especially because things are so competitive these days (winning awards, scholarships, getting into other programs, etc.) I want the competition to be fair.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 12:45 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

To be blunt, your friend is full of shit. You do not "unconsciously borrow" that extensively from another work. I agree with the others that you should distance yourself from your friend and this situation in general.

In my heart, I really agree with Flood, especially because she received an honor from the university, but I'm afraid all of your evidence is basically hearsay. By all means write an anonymous note if you think it'll help your conscience, but leave it at that, and don't be surprised if nothing comes of it.
posted by mkultra at 12:49 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Not sure if it matters, but did she plagiarize her own previously-published story, or someone else's?
posted by theefixedstars at 12:55 PM on January 28, 2011

Sidhedevil: "It doesn't have anything to do with your age; not every university has an honor code, and among those that do, their requirements vary."

I've never encountered a school that didn't specifically spell out what they considering cheating, plagiarism, etc and what the repercussions for such actions would be. The penalties might vary from school to school but the expectation that people won't cheat, steal or misrepresent someone elses work as their own seems somewhat universal. I think that 3rd parties speaking up when they see or suspect cheating or plagiarism is often part of this code as well.

To the OP - Write an anonymous letter because it's completely unfair that she won the university prize under false pretenses. Get rid of this friend...the next person she steals from could be you.
posted by victoriab at 12:55 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Please forgive me if I'm projecting, but -- I once had a friend who was "fragile." A waif. Who plagiarized, stole, took credit for things she didn't do. Had an astonishing knack for getting teachers to sympathize with her/make excuses for her/turn into her rabid defenders. You may have guessed this - she was hawt. Guys were always helping her and rescuing her. She was always calling them in a panic or crisis. It always ended really badly for them. They felt taken advantage of and used. I agree with everyone else that you should back away slooooooowly and cut this off.
posted by Ashley801 at 12:56 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

So, if I'm reading this correctly, your friend's application for this award included an item on her publication record that had been withdrawn? And the department chair helped cover for her? Even if she's never (deliberately) plagiarized in her life, that's a pretty shady thing to do. I'd take strixus's advice of writing anonymously to an ombudsman or academic honesty liaison, but don't mention the plagiarism; just say that you think her publiction record may have included a later-withdrawn item. If she is a serial plagiarist, trust me, she'll get caught (especially since it sounds like she's not very good at concealing it, and people are starting to talk; as you've probably noticed, academics are second only to seventh graders for gossipy behavior.) Stick to what you can prove (that she got an award based on a misleading record) and not to hearsay.
posted by kagredon at 1:05 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

The truth will out. Let it be someone else's problem when it does.

I'm all for doing the right thing but I'm also one for picking one's battles. This one will get fought with or without you. Withdraw from the situation and enjoy the schadenfreude when it explodes.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:10 PM on January 28, 2011

I'm a bit unsure, but did her application for the University prize say that she won the literary prize with no mention that it was revoked? The stuff about the previous paper is hearsay, but this isn't (having that prize revoked is on record) and is a kind of fraud on her part. If the professor backed up her false application then that's misconduct on their part too, although who knows what your friend actually told them.

Often winners of Uni prizes get some kind of write up, even just a small blurb hidden in a University webpage or on a department newsletter, and if you can find something like that it would give you an in to contact the prize organisers and mention that "hey, friend didn't actually win that other prize that she said she did". I wouldn't go into the whole plagiarism thing, just leave it to the Uni prize people to contact the literary prize people and find out what happened then make their own decisions. Who knows, they already know or may not care. Also don't involve your department or anyone except the people that directly administer the prize and don't get bogged down giving details or your opinion, you don't want to get dragged into gossip or be seen to be badmouthing someone.

Lastly, I'd probably make it an anonymous message because you really don't want to get dragged into this, and I fully support all the other answers about stepping away from this 'friend' and leaving her to her own shit.
posted by shelleycat at 1:11 PM on January 28, 2011

I am confused.

Your friend plagiarised a story, won a contest with it, then either realised what she did or got cold feet and withdrew from the contest.

She *also* applied for (or was recommended for) a university prize, which was awarded based on one's publication record. The record she submitted included that she won the contest, and she knew that would probably put her over the top. She told at least some professors about this, and none of them informed the selection committee for that prize.

I'd probably see when it was announced and see if the announcement mentions the contest she "won". If it does, write to whichever office put out the announcement (anonymously if you prefer), showing that someone else won; if the announcement does not mention this contest, then I'd assume that she changed her publication record and wno the prize anyhow.
posted by jeather at 1:13 PM on January 28, 2011

The publication in question might also be interested in learning that this woman was awarded a prize by involving them in her fraud.
posted by mkultra at 1:31 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Friends are supposed to be friends (if you can say 'supposed to' in this context) partially because of shared values and interests. If her value system is so different from yours and her interests include submitting plagarized essays in as her own and accepting awards for them (the ones she doesn't retract)- how can you consider that person a friend? If the actions upset you? I would just demote myself to 'distant acquaintance'. Immediately.
posted by bquarters at 2:06 PM on January 28, 2011

You're not the police of the world. You have no obligation to report. Additionally, it seems like you lack personal knowledge of a lot of what you think she's been doing outside the first instance. In that case, you should steer clear. This has the potential to blow up her career, and people who "easily turn hostile" are the sort who might be tempted to sue people when the fecal matter hits the fan. I'd let someone else deal with it, and I probably would limit my association with such a person.
posted by Hylas at 2:07 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

You should absolutely report this. It's against all honorable academic & writing standards and unfair to the other student writers pand professors who took part in competition honestly and took her work seriously in workshop.

She may get caught in her lies later (when, if everyone passes the buck assuming that someone else will report it?). But in the interim she'll have tainted the credibility of your university & award, she'll have gained academic credit or employment based on false pretenses, and she'll have denied qualified students the chance to be honored. Publication credits and academic awards are crucial for new graduates in an already cutthroat environment applying for grad school, academic grants, and jobs. A retroactive college award given to them when this is uncovered 3-4 years down the line is useless (and would incite me to righteous fury at my idiotic alma mater).

Almost all universities have ethics panels, student councils, and/or mediation boards that deal routinely with suspicions of plagiarism. Find yours. Call or email them today. They'll have a shot of doing some quiet investigation over the weekend. Do it anonymously if you want (no one's going to bother dusting a letter for fingerprints or tracing your throwaway email account). Don't pass the buck on this.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:13 PM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]

I would just send the person she plagiarized from copies of her work. Maybe a copy of the announcement of her winning the award.
posted by haplesschild at 2:20 PM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

This sounds pretty bad.

But there's something I'm not clear on. If she brought the first thing to your attention because she just randomly noticed the similarity between the stories, and the whole thing was an accident, I'm not sure that's the same thing as plagiarism. Plagiarism implies intent. In fact "oh, I must have unconsciously regurgitated it, whoops" is the typical defense when someone is accused of something like this.

It's not even clear from what you've said that she'd even read the original story in the first place - writing something that is coincidentally really close to something that already exists is not the same thing as plagiarism.

If my read of this is true, then she really should NOT have informed the editor of the journal that gave her the award. But she did, and they retracted it. This sounds like a situation where karma is a bitch - maybe the first instance didn't count as plagiarism, but clearly she's got a guilty conscience and she seems to have been punished for something.

In the second instance, in my opinion unless it's your direct business, you should just stay out of it. You shouldn't lie to protect her, and if you're approached by an ethics board or someone in a position of authority, you should cooperate. But I don't see any reason from what you've said above that you should take the initiative to rat her out. From your point of view it's all hearsay and secondhand gossip, on top of another instance which is a pretty gray area.
posted by Sara C. at 2:27 PM on January 28, 2011

Can you talk to your advisor or the person who you'd go to in the program if you were having problems confidentially? Ask this person what your response should be, they are likely to have handled this sort of thing in the past and will let you know what the department policy is and whether or not you should report this woman for plagiarism. Make damn sure that this person is not required to report this sort of thing before you talk to him/her about this issue.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:34 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 2:37 PM on January 28, 2011

Bust her. Out her, tell everyone starting with an academic administrator, and get her in huge trouble. Don't apologize for having morals. People like this deserve to be punished. She'll never be your friend again but you don't want that anyway, believe me. Do it today!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:12 PM on January 28, 2011

I think that 3rd parties speaking up when they see or suspect cheating or plagiarism is often part of this code as well.

None of the universities I attended or worked at had codes with those specifications. Each individual's responsibilities not to cheat or plagiarize were certainly clearly spelled out in our university handbooks, but there was absolutely no proviso along the lines of "If you know about someone else's violations, it is your obligation to report them."

I think that it is a bit much for people to sit here and judge the OP for not jeopardizing his or her academic career (remember that the department head supported the fraud) on the basis of some "honor code" that may or may not even exist at that university.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:28 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

My university's honor code included the responsibility of reporting another student's violation.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:36 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

She'll never be your friend again but you don't want that anyway,

Lots of people might never be her friend again if she makes a huge scene out of busting this person. I would certainly think twice about befriending someone who did it, and I'm very honest.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:48 PM on January 28, 2011

I bet you a hundred bucks she's plagiarized most of her school work. And the "whoops, I forgot I memorized this story" crap is . . . crap. Please, send an anonymous note to the Dean of Students.

This is the type of thing that gets out and is spread all over local papers and makes everyone in your department look bad. Including you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:59 PM on January 28, 2011

To be blunt, your friend is full of shit. You do not "unconsciously borrow" that extensively from another work.

I was coming here to say exactly this. I have personally unconsciously plagiarized a story before; the parts I plagiarized were a few plot elements and general similarities between the main characters, not exact phrases, motifs, pacing, etc. Only much later did I realize that my story was uncomfortably similar to another one I'd read years ago and I can't remember the title or author of that story. The evidence indicates that she lied to you.
posted by Lobster Garden at 4:09 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Googles finds everything. If she plagiarized, it will be discovered. I'd let it go. I think the clock is already ticking on this one.

Also, I'm not vindictive. I'd consider not necessarily getting involved in the drama, but knowing that she's in for a bumpy ride. And after this becomes more widely known, and things get really tough for her, maybe extend a hand.
posted by Toekneesan at 4:15 PM on January 28, 2011

Everything your friend has won has been at the price of someonewho should have won but who has been denied by someone who stole someone else's work.

Everything your friend has won has been by stealing the work of someone else.

Your friend has won by cheating and stealing the work of other people, she hs no integrity while she continues to do this. Your friend has placed you in a position whre the only right thing to do is to make it clear what has happened so your friend can be stopped form stealing from others. I would encourage you to find as many details as possible of the work your friend has stolen and submit it anonymously.
posted by biffa at 5:10 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

My university's honor code included the responsibility of reporting another student's violation.

mizrachi, it is probably a good idea for you to look into the specifics about what your university's honor code or code of conduct or student handbook says about this issue. That is a datapoint you may want to take into account, and none of us can tell you what your university's policy on this actually is. As we have established in this thread, universities have a variety of policies on this issue.

Once you've taken a look at the specific policy for your university, you can evaluate whether the knowledge you have is knowledge that, under those guidelines, you have a duty to report. Or not.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:38 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do what feels right to you.

If it were me, I'd tell her how what she did violate my sense of ethics and that I could no longer be a friend with her.

And, as a University Administrator myself, I would hope you would report it if it were happening at my institution - so that we could take the proper steps to protect our own reputation and maintain our standards of integrity. But this may be asking too much.
posted by aroberge at 6:50 PM on January 28, 2011

I think you have an ethical obligation to rat her out. Take a couple other of her stories and check them for plagiarism as well.
posted by LarryC at 7:24 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Take a couple other of her stories and check them for plagiarism as well.

I disagree with this advice. Even if you find conclusive evidence (and it's really, really difficult to prove plagiarism), it's not your place to investigate this, and if you decide to go to a higher authority, it's going to look suspicious that a student went through a lot of effort to build a case against another student. As it is, you can't be sure that your friend is a plagiarist--it's plausible that she was being honest about the contest incident and that the friend of a friend was spreading lies/rumors/misunderstandings. If she is innocent, then accusing her is going to cause both of you a world of misery. If she's not innocent, then she's still going to claim that the contest was an honest mistake and the other rumors are untrue. On the other hand, it's easy to verify whether or not she got the university award based on false qualifications.
posted by kagredon at 7:57 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cease friendship, and mention to everyone, especially those who might have an axe to grind, that Google exists, and tools to ferret out plagiarism are easy to find. Let nature take it's course.
posted by kjs3 at 8:49 PM on January 28, 2011

"And, how, if at all, would you handle this with her?"

You know, if you are going to follow the good advice given to withdraw from this friendship, I'd suggest that you take the opportunity speak plainly with her as you do so, and it might resolve the first question, being productive by sending her to the University herself.

I tell the kids that I supervise that "It's hard work to be friends with high-maintenance people" (so don't be one). And that if you're having a problem with them tell them, not me. It's very much a kid thing to do - to have a problem, to tell a supervisor, then expect it to be solved as you've walked away, leaving it in someone else's lap. Telling the University without telling her is doing that.

You could start the conversation by telling her that it's frustrating to have to be careful around her all the time because of her temperament, that you're tired of avoiding conflict because of that, and that helping her with her dishonesties has only led to more conflicted feelings as new information has emerged. And, that you feel obligated to act on the information you know for a fact (and make sure you do) by reporting it to the University, if she doesn't herself - and that if you don't feel that from now on you're dealing with a person who's on the up-and-up, it's better not to deal with her at all.

In the book "A Bargain for Frances" the moral of the story is that it's better to be friends than to be careful. And the problem is that you friend's level of fabrication suggests she's untrustworthy on so many levels (and her behaviour is a device to keep you from focusing on more of them, no doubt) and so if you present it to her that you can't give all of yourself to this friendship because of her actions and her manipulation, she may decide that your friendship is worth earning by her good behaviour - rather than the other way around, as it has been. Is she thriving on negative attention? Like a dog, like a first-grader: ignore or make it unpleasant for the bad, reward only good.

And when you inform her of your choice to only have friends that you can trust unequivocally, because they can expect the same from you (you've proven your friendship to her by helping her come clean - what has she done for you, considering she subverted the system a bit) - be ready to mean it, enforce it, and no backsies. It's hard to lose any friends, no matter how attached you've become - but it's better to grow, to be the person you want to be in all of this.
posted by peagood at 7:46 AM on January 29, 2011

You know, if you are going to follow the good advice given to withdraw from this friendship, I'd suggest that you take the opportunity speak plainly with her as you do so, and it might resolve the first question, being productive by sending her to the University herself.

Just keep in mind that she's likely to get very upset and probably vindictive. Someone like this can make grad school hell, particularly as she already has the department head on her side.

mizrachi, anything you do against this girl is going to get thrown back in your face. Drama queens like this don't listen to reason, they twist everything to fit their world view and do not take kindly to opposition. Complaining to the department is going end up with you looking like a troublemaker, particularly as it would just be your word against hers (and again, the department head is on her side). In my experience these people end up friendless pretty fast already, you don't need to get dragged into this.

I'm all for busting plagiarists. I've marked my students down for it (made a couple cry) and caught someone copying in an exam (leading to serious disciplinary action), but in those cases there was always direct proof. If I was your teacher and you came to me with second hand stories about possible old assignments there's not much I can do (and I'd wonder why you were telling tales given you weren't in that class), and telling me about the literary competition wouldn't help either since it was dealt with appropriately at the time and the department head already knows and is on her side. The prize she won based on her publication record is the only verifiable incident that you can report on, and even then you'd need to be sure that she didn't remove the other prize from application (and even then, people giving prizes are supposed to verify the details on the entries). Comment on that anonymously if you want to, but otherwise stay away from gossip because it's only ever going to hurt your grad school career.
posted by shelleycat at 12:56 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

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