Poshard accusations leave high schoolstudents unfazed

By Gus Bode

Accusations of plagiarism against SIU President Glenn Poshard may have created a stir on campus, but local high school students said the allegations wouldn’t keep them from attending SIUC.

The results of an informal poll conducted by the DAILY EGYPTIAN of 100 high school students indicated a majority of respondents find plagiarism reprehensible but would not consider the allegations a factor in applying to SIU.

The DAILY EGYPTIAN analyzed Poshard’s 1984 doctoral dissertation and a report from an anonymous source last month and found 14 instances of text that appeared to be lifted from other sources without being cited. Afterwards, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported it found similar instances of verbatim text without citation in Poshard’s 1975 master’s thesis.


One reason for students’ reaction might be their lack of knowledge about the situation, said Roy Kirkpatrick, principal of Christopher Community High School.

“They wouldn’t know who Mr. Poshard was if he came up and hit them,” Kirkpatrick said. “Now if they were in a college setting I could see where they would know who he was and that sort of thing, but I don’t know that it’s affecting them too much right now.”

The paper survey, which was given to students from eight schools in southern Illinois, asked if the allegations would affect their decisions about where to attend college and what they thought should happen to Poshard if he were found guilty of plagiarism.

A majority of respondents – 66 percent – said the allegations did not affect their opinion of SIU. A combined 13 percent said they would not or might not attend SIU because of the accusations, while 22 percent said they had never considered attending SIU.

Students expressed more differences of opinion about what should happen to Poshard if he is found guilty of plagiarizing his dissertation and master’s thesis.

The majority – 36 percent – said Poshard should lose his job if he plagiarized, while 32 percent said he should write a public apology and 27 percent felt another type of punishment would be appropriate.

Only 5 percent said Poshard should experience no consequences.


“I personally think that if the allegations are true, he should admit to his mistake and apologize to the public,” wrote Tyler Deien, a senior at Salem Community High School. “I don’t think someone should lose his job that he worked hard to obtain because of a mistake 24 years ago.”

If the allegations had occurred last year, Wesley Phillips, a freshman from O’Fallon studying physiology, said he might have reconsidered his plans.

“I don’t know if it would have changed my whole decision of coming to SIUC, but it would have maybe made me rethink choices and look at everywhere else,” Phillips said. “I think some high school students won’t take it seriously and some others might. It depends on the person.”

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Victoria Valle declined to comment on the issue, but in an e-mail wrote she thought high school students had many other things on their minds as they pondered their college choices.

Kirkpatrick said while students might not change their college plans because of the allegations, the school does cover the situation in class.

“I walked into class the other day and that was a point of discussion in a current events class, talking about, ‘Is this significant?'” Kirkpatrick said. “Much like downloading music, is that part of the culture that we’re living in?”

Daily Egyptian reporter Allison Petty can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 259 or [email protected].