Intellectual Property Paranoia and the Writing Center




Jurecka, Ginger

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The current atmosphere of numerous academic institutions is one of suspicion regarding intellectual ethical transgressions. Universities that have longstanding honor systems, like Southwestern University, dismiss this paranoia as being unrelated to their establishment because the honor code system protects them. The honor code incites additional thought regarding consultation methods in writing centers like Southwestern’s Debbie Ellis Writing Center (DEWC). One must question what Southwestern students are truly affirming when writing “I have neither given nor received aid on this examination, nor have I seen anyone else do so” on an assignment they have taken to the writing center (Southwestern University 58). Are they saying they did not benefit from their visit to the writing center, or are they merely affirming that they did not engage in unethical behavior? According to Stephen North, “Nearly everyone who writes likes–and needs–to talk about his or her writing…. A writing center is an institutional response to this need” (North 71). In addition to fulfilling the needs of the university’s writers by creating a place for discussions about writing, the writing center complicates the supposedly clear ethical and non-ethical dichotomy of the honor code system by being an institutionalized exception to that system. As an exception to the honor code system, the DEWC calls into question the viability of that system and the ideas of intellectual property that serve as its foundations.

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