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Court proceedings have been lasting for many years after UNLV’s student, Sujanie Gamage, filed a lawsuit against university employees that accused her of plagiarism.

In 2010 Sujanie Gamage started to write her PhD thesis in Chemistry, and had to hand in her draft to the advisory committee. After a thorough check, Vernon Hodge, one of the professors in Chemistry, came up with a conclusion of the plagiarized content in dissertation, and that meant a violation of the academic integrity. On October, 2011 there was a hearing of Academic Integrity Appeal Panel where Ms. Gamage’s was absent, thus had no chance to comment on her work. The members of the Panel proved all the allegations against student’s plagiarism in her thesis. Soon after that, a student filed a lawsuit, and when the hearing started, she claimed that “no competent evidence was ever presented to support any of the allegations made against Plaintiff.” Student’s decision to bring her case to court was based on several reasons: breach of contract, defamation, civil rights violation, and some others, but the most important one was that Sujanie Gamage was removed from her PhD program.

Student’s Expectations and Court’s Decision

All that Sujanie wanted in court is to prove false allegations made by a professor Hodge, as well as a return to her thesis program, and regain the minimum sum of $10 000 from university for the damages caused. The Plaintiff Ms. Gamage asked the Defendant that university officials embodied to act under the law, and not to violate her constitutional rights. Finally, the court’s verdict was against Ms. Gamage, and her claim was denied by judge Gloria Navarro. Moreover, it was even a financial defeat because the judgement was delivered, and Ms. Sujanie had to pay off $40 000 to the university Panel for such a “frivolous” behavior, that she took professors’ time to prove that she didn’t plagiarize. Usually, in case of students’ plagiarism revelation, it is bad manners to confront teachers, and try to make excuses.

Ms. Gamage’s Attorney Comments

Allen Lichtenstein, student’s attorney yet commented on the situation: “It’s a rather strange situation in which those making the accusation are also doing the judging,” Lichtenstein said. “Just having a process — even if it’s not a fair process and you’re just going through the motions — is a little bit like having a rigged election”, being strongly confirmed that the court proceedings regarding UNLV plagiarism case remind more of students’ discrimination than a wise and well-balanced decision.

Another plagiarism case where a student was accused of academic misconduct, and didn’t have opportunity to confront and defend herself in court happened at Rutgers the State University of New Jersey.

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