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‘There is a sick and twisted irony to making a computer write your message about community and togetherness because you can’t be bothered to reflect on it yourself.’ 

This wise Vanderbilt student is of course right that when two high-ranking university deans get together to write the university community a letter about the most difficult and sensitive subject of all – the very real threat/trauma of mass shootings on campus – they probably shouldn’t just push a button and plagiarize the whole thing from a computer program…

Hey, fellow dean! What’s that app… You know the one … that take care of each other thing… that stay strong we’re all in it together thing… Get it going, will you? Only be sure to erase that thingie on the bottom where it says it was plagiarized!

Yeah so the dummies did NOT delete the snippet at the bottom that gave the game away… Both of them have er temporarily stepped down but UD‘s figuring they’re going to turn on each other — that’s their only option — and each one will swear she sweated over a heartwrenching way-personal uber-authentic cris de coeur but the other one rejected it and they were under deadline and..

The irony on top of the irony noted by the student is that as campus massacres become more and more common, we can expect many schools to start using the safe and inclusive environment template.

Margaret Soltan, February 21, 2023 4:34PM
Posted in: plagiarism

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3 Responses to “‘There is a sick and twisted irony to making a computer write your message about community and togetherness because you can’t be bothered to reflect on it yourself.’ ”

  1. Rita Says:

    Truly, who reads or cares about these boilerplate messages anyway, even when they’re written by a human? This precise text, absent the giveaway at the bottom, would not have raised a single eyebrow. In an ideal world, the deans would use AI to write the message, the students would use AI to write their protest against it, and the school paper would use AI to cover the conflict, all while everyone involved spent their own, human time on something actually worthwhile. Automate it all and go live your life instead of endlessly re-enacting these absurd bureaucratic dramas.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Yes – my last sentence nods in this direction. And also no – they’re only boilerplate because lazy cynical institutions have made them so. It matters a lot, in circumstances like these, that students recognize the people who run their schools as flesh and blood people. It matters how they write/talk.

  3. Rita Says:

    It would be much easier for me to believe schools were run by flesh and blood people if they stopped sending out these programmatic, pablum-filled missives every time there is some kind of EVENT in the world that they did not cause and over which they have no control, but about which they feel compelled to officially comment on anyway. Verdict in a police shooting case in another state? Missive from the dean! Earthquake in Turkey? Missive from the dean! Shooting in Michigan? Missive from the dean! Fake hate crime on campus? Extra-long missive time! Composing these things is an essentially robotic activity, so why not outsource it to an actual robot? That’s the second-best alternative to ending the practice of sending missives and expecting these people to manage the university in front of them. But why dream of such utopian possibilities?

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