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February 1, 2023

The apology of plagiarism

After a new bluff on the part of UDMR, which harshly criticised the governing programme but had no problems voting for the new Government, a sign that secret negotiations are everything they are interested in, PSD’s reign continues more disinhibited than before. After two major crises, the party’s current leadership realises that the time of hesitation has passed.

A final assault is now being prepared. Because Liviu Dragnea’s great fear is losing the party’s support. Consequently, besides the ladies from Teleorman – let us not forget that even Romanian culture abroad is managed by one of them – he needs other allies too. This is probably why he insisted on naming the rector from Suceava as Education Minister. A Moldavia that does not really want to modernise and which prefers a reactionary party leadership to one more attached to European opportunities – such as the Mayor of Iasi, today a dissident among Social Democrats –, this is the region that propelled the current minister. A more patriarchal region that perfectly suits the model of the almighty party baron and preferential budget allocations. Of course, one should not exaggerate with regionalist characterisations, because the Social Democrats from other regions are not far apart from their Moldavian colleagues. But the influence of a baron of Suceava is greater, due to sociological reasons, than that of a baron from Cluj, for instance.

But the new minister does not represent only Moldavia, he also represents the University. The long list of rectors from all over the country that rapidly signed a letter of support is proof of that. We may wonder how collecting so many endorsements was pulled off. As if they are all members of an occult association, such as the masonry, because otherwise simple political opportunism does not seem a sufficient explanation. The fact that the said rectors want one of them at the helm of the ministry was invoked. To promote the specific university interests. Still, the rector from Suceava has more than just grammar problems. Which is not little. A university professor, albeit an engineer, is not allowed to be unlettered. Millions of pupils are terrorised by Romanian language teachers on a weekly basis, and many are constrained to resort to private tutoring, a serious source of corruption in the system. And all of that only to speak correctly one’s maternal language, even if they are going to become only plumbers or lathe operators. An unlettered university professor is the symbol of a poorly organised national education system.

But even worse is the apology of plagiarism. He barely took office that he has already launched a clear call: plagiarism will no longer be a priority. The plagiarism issue exploded due to political reasons. The most spectacular case was that of ex-Premier Victor Ponta, who took various governmental measures in order to get away scot free. He failed. Then other cases appeared, especially those related to national security degrees, some endorsed by Gabriel Oprea. Thus, it was discovered how a system of gaining the loyalty of a political-academic pseudo-elite was created. But beyond that, the problem of plagiarism is far wider. And, let us not forget, the culprits are the coordinating professors.

The most recent case is the one concerning the Justice Minister, who coordinated the doctoral thesis of the new Supreme Magistracy Council Vice President, a thesis that a journalist analysed and discovered it was plagiarised from the first to the last page. So, we can ask ourselves: how many of the rectors that endorsed the new minister have not coordinated plagiarised doctoral theses?

Not necessarily those of persons holding important public offices, but of almost anonymous persons. In other words, how many of them consider plagiarism a plague that is destroying the quality of academic activity? We must not boast with those who have results, we should see that along their side there are also many others who are not just mediocre but also liable to corruption. In the age of higher education that is in everyone’s reach, academic improvisations are not few in number.

And since Romanian society is far from being a meritocracy, a diploma obtained in Suceava, for instance, is equivalent to one obtained at one of the best universities in the country. The apology of plagiarism should become a crime punishable by the Criminal Code. Since the judicial laws are being “improved” these days, it would be worth introducing such a new provision too.

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