SBP candidate accused of plagiarism
The Lewis Review, a student publication at The King's College, published an opinion piece on Thursday claiming that Student Body President (SBP) candidate Reese Evans plagiarized in his platform. The piece was later taken down, and then republished Friday morning along with a response from Evans. In the piece, Fisher Derderian, a junior in the House of C.S. Lewis, claimed that Evans copied sections of his SBP platform from that of Jonathan Lile, who ran for SBP last year.
"Reese Evans’s platform bears a more than coincidental similarity to the platform of previous Reagan House President Jonathan Lile" writes Derderian in his piece.
Lile lost last year's election in a run-off with current SBP, Maxine Fileta. Evans is currently the President of the House of Reagan. Lile was the President of Reagan last year when he ran for SBP.
The piece was intended to "start a discussion and debate about" the similarities between the two platforms, said Spencer Kashmanian, Editor-in-Chief of The Lewis Review.
Kashmanian said that Derderian "wanted to write it because... he was shocked by how it seemed like people had kind of just shrugged off this really something that you could never get away with in a college writing one class."
Derderian's piece emphasizes "three instances of plagiarism" in Evans' platform. However, the piece ends with highlighted copies of the two platforms, which draw attention to other similarities in the platforms.
In one of the highlighted sections towards the end of both platforms, Lile writes, "Vote for Jonothan Lile as Student Body President and join me in continuing to build...."
Evans writes, "Vote for Reese Evans for Student Body President and join him in the pursuit...."
When asked whether he thought highlighting such a generic statement was being too hard on Evans, Derderian told the Tribune, "I think that's a fair point."
He explained that he was not calling this sentence an act of plagiarism on its own, but that "when I saw that on top of everything else it was kind of like an addition to it."
"I will admit that I should have properly put [Jonny's] name in the written statement, and that was an error on my part, and that’s why I’m making it very clear now, verbally, and I was making it clear before this thing came out, that I was building off the ideas of the people that have come before me," Evans told the Tribune.
Evans also said that, though he didn't officially work on Lile's platform, he had helped Lile come up with ideas for it last year.
Lile confirmed this in an email to the Tribune. "I met with my SYS group to get input and [Reese] was a big part of helping me with ideas," he wrote.
The Lewis Review took the piece down on Thursday because they had not given Reese what they considered enough notice before publishing the accusation.
"That was a result of miscommunication between Fisher and me," said Kashmanian.
"I was just trying to be gracious with him," said Derderian. "My intention was not to attack him and say we shouldn’t elect him."
The Lewis Review put the piece back on their website Friday morning, with a note apologizing for initially publishing it without giving Evans appropriate notice.
However, Derderian did not downplay the seriousness of Evans' alleged plagiarism.
"I wanted people to actually take this as a serious thing," he said.
The Lewis Review also published an open letter from Evans Friday morning, in which he apologizes "for not properly crediting Jonny for his ideas and wording in my written platform."
In the open letter, Evans claims that "this is not something that I deliberately tried to hide."
He also defends his desire to implement other leaders' ideas as a quality of a good leader, though he did not defend the lack of written attribution for those ideas.
"I’m of a mixed opinion," Derderian said about Reese's open letter. "I’m not fully convinced that it’s necessarily an apology."
Moving forward, Evans told the Tribune that "I just want people to understand why I did what I did. That’s my plan, is to encourage people to ask me questions, send me emails, ask the people who are helping me out with my campaign, why am I running? Why did I put those things that I did in there?"