Disciplinary Action

Many of you are probably aware of the big news from Columbia University this week. Madonna Constantine was accused of multiple cases of flagrant plagiarism earlier this week by Columbia. This received national attention, in part, because it was on Constantine’s door that a noose was found in the fall. This all led to today’s news:

Columbia University’s Teachers College will not dismiss Madonna G. Constantine, the professor it charged with plagiarizing numerous works by another professor and two former students.

The college said on Wednesday that it had penalized her, but declined to discuss how. But on Thursday, Marcia Horowitz, a spokeswoman for the college, said the action stopped short of Dr. Constantine’s firing. “She is still a tenured professor at Teachers College,” Ms. Horowitz said. “She will remain on staff.”

In one case Constantine had lifted 20 pages, near verbatim, from one of her doctoral students. This brings me to an article in today’s Daily D. Apparently SAPAs (Sexual Abuse Peer Advisor) are pushing for the COS review committee not to amend its standard for the proof necessary to determine guilt. The committee is determining whether the judicial body should change the current standard of “preponderance of evidence” to “clear and convincing evidence.” The SAPAs are most exercised about a change that would allow the accused to question the accuser.

It will be impossible to find the perfect balance between protecting the innocently accused and punishing the truly guilty. Surely, however, that balance is somewhere in between Columbia’s lenience and Dartmouth’s relish in prosecution.