News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


JSU president’s plagiarism sets poor example for students

To The Daily: Jacksonville State University President Bill Meehan plagiarized three recent articles for his weekly column in The Jacksonville News. Dr. Meehan is a gentleman and an honest person, but he was grievously negligent and careless in signing off on the work of his ghostwriter without examining it closely.

What am I to tell my students on the first day of classes? That’s the day I read them the riot act on plagiarism, as do countless other English teachers across America at every level, from middle to postgraduate. I can tell them if they do exactly what the president did, they’re going to get a zero. Students can’t have ghostwriters. Also, they can’t lift material verbatim from published, copyrighted sources with no attribution or quotation marks, which is the worst kind of plagiarism and illegal, and they’ll likely fail the course for it.

Others will decide the president’s future. I think it might be best for him to step down to save JSU’s good name and reputation. It’s not likely to go over well for the president of a university to have to tell his students, “Do as I say, not as I did.”

All this could have been avoided if only administrators would teach. For many years I have tried, with little success, to get administrators into the classroom; most of them steadfastly refuse to teach, thus minimizing their contact with students, genuine scholarship, other teachers — in short, with the real life of the university. In this atmosphere, Dr. Meehan’s regrettable mistakes occurred.

Rufus Kinney
Instructor of English, Jacksonville State University

Liberty, choice are for all, not just for nonsmokers

To The Daily: In response to Ronny Russell’s first two paragraphs of his letter (Aug. 22): “Says who?” And what definitive proof does he have that secondhand smoke kills? Please show me. Better still, give quantified proof to The Daily to print.

In response to the paragraphs where he talks about personal choices, I find it hypocritical of him to say that nonsmokers have choices but business owners shouldn’t — which is what he is saying.

Government buildings are one thing, and I’ve no problem with that. But private businesses are another issue. It is the owner’s choice to run his own business. The councilman also mentions these are city-licensed businesses and should be subjected to the same policies. Do the businesses have a choice whether to get a city business license? No. They are forced to have one if they want to operate in the city. Where is choice?

I don’t see Mr. Russell or Councilmen David Bolding or Billy Jackson giving up anything. They’re just taking!

Office of the mayor: shame. He signed a law he knew was wrong. His excuse? He used the same excuse all politicians use to curtail the rights of the citizens: “It’s for the children.” I have gone to bars here in Decatur and have yet to see any children.

Both the mayor and District 2 representative have lost my votes.

I am a nonsmoker and there are a lot of folks like me who feel that liberty for all supersedes all. Hopefully you will find out Election Day.

The price of freedom is not only paid for on the battlefield. We have to pay for it every day here at home. I congratulate Councilmen Gary Hammon and Ray Metzger.

Also, kudos to Tony’s Country Kitchen for its stand.

Jerry West

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