On Sept. 27, The Daily Campus published an article concerning the UConn student section logo’s upcoming redesign. This initiative proved necessary in rather humiliating fashion, as following the Sept. 18 unveiling of the original logo, its striking similarities to that of its North Carolina State counterpart were too noticeable to ignore. Upon receiving backlash, UConn Associate Director of Athletics for Athletic Communications Patrick McKenna noted that “the fallout that ensued from last week’s announcement was embarrassing and we certainly took our lumps.” An understatement, yes, but at least he acknowledged the severity of the situation. Before we move forward, we must determine why this debacle occurred in the first place and devise ways to prevent further incidents of this ilk.
Obviously the students who designed the logo must take responsibility for their actions. Sure, it’s difficult to produce original designs, especially while under a time crunch and considering that there are so many of them out in the universe. Heck, this copycatting — or in this case, copydogging — might’ve been unintentional, for there’s an off chance that the UConn logo designers didn’t consult any other sources throughout their creative process. But nevertheless this highlights the importance of performing your due diligence before submitting something and characterizing it as your own. While it’s perfectly acceptable and sometimes even constructive to draw inspiration from other sources, copying them entirely is simply inexcusable. Such lazy, dishonest tactics certainly contradict this new logo’s original intent, which was to “enhance the campus spirit.”
However, UConn’s administrators and professors — who are tasked with defining plagiarism explicitly to their student body — are culpable as well. They lecture students constantly about the consequences of committing text-based plagiarism and use plagiarism trackers that detect instances of stolen text primarily. Given that text is our primary communicative medium and is so prevalent throughout our coursework, such tendencies are understandable. Yet this incident illustrates that “plagiarism” encompasses stealing not only one’s words, but also any expression of their thoughts or ideas (consider photos, videos, music, etc.). And its association with terms like “academic dishonesty” doesn’t help matters, for you probably wouldn’t associate, say, graphical elements with “academic work.” Simply put, university administrators and professors here and nationwide must work harder to prevent plagiarism, too.
Ultimately we’re all obligated to avoid the occurrence of these incidents, for they reflect poorly upon not only those implicated, but also UConn as a whole. We all aspire to protect our pack; perhaps we should also protect our pack from developing a pack mentality.