Death by Citation


Hello, I’m a Slytherclaw. ^_^

Once upon a time, I attended wizard school.

(Have I told this story before? I feel like I have. Oh well, I’m repeating it for a reason.)

(Also, I’m not putting a link to the school because they don’t deserve it and I don’t want to stir up old crap with them.)

Somehow—and I’m fuzzy on the exact details, because this was in 2007—I ended up becoming friends with one of the instructors (different department than anything I was interested in, so no conflict of interest there), who encouraged me to become a teacher’s assistant. Joining the staff meant that everything beyond what I’d already paid for in tuition was free and they would start paying me after promotion to instructor, which was usually about a year after acceptance to TA status and developing your first class. (In fact, they encouraged you to use the year to develop your class so the two requirements would be completed about the same time.)

I was doing well in my classes (to the point where I had two of my three nominations needed for the dean’s list), my aromatherapy classes were developing apace (yup, plural! I had that much material) under the supervision of my department head (I was in the healing division, which is why one of my lesser used nicknames is “Leuca Bleu”short for my wizarding name, “Melaleuca the Blue”*)…and then I met E.

CUE NIGHTMARE MUSIC!

Jaina Proudmore (of World of Warcraft/Hearthstone fame). Not my usual class, but I figured a female mage wearing blue was probably about the closest I was going to get to a blue wizard of the proper gender.

*Each division within wizard school was assigned a color and healing was blue. My minors were herbalism (green) and divination (yellow).

Now I’m not usually one to accuse someone of using untoward means to get to where they are; but if E was willing to blackmail me (and pretend she didn’t), chances are good that she got elsewhere with foul play, as well.

After all, I was down to the last assignment of my last class, both for promotion to level two and securing that last nomination to the dean’s list. What better way to ensure your student will bow down and kiss your hand then to threaten both their accolades and advancement? Of course, E never overtly said that’s what she was doing; but it didn’t take a genius to figure out her intentions, either.

I don’t remember what exactly we were supposed to do; but I suspect it was a lot like the herbarium I’m doing right now for one of my grad school classes, just with a lot less in the way of requirements, and with the information coming out of our textbooks.

Anyway, I turned it in and waited for my grade…only to be told that she “expects more out of [her] adult students” and could I please add some additional information?

That should’ve flagged. Hard.

Like “I should’ve gone running to D (my friend) and said, ‘HELP! E is trying to hit me with a double standard!'” hard.

Or gone to S (my advisor) at the very least.

But instead, I decided to stick it out and do what she wanted. I got out my favorite aromatherapy book, copied out the appropriate information and wrote at the bottom, “This information provided by [title] by [author].”

Probably not the best citation; but given that all the data was copied out of the same book, not the worst—especially when the worst would be no citation at all.

Oh, how wrong I was!

Probably the wrongest wrong I’ve ever been—and that’s even allowing for my failure to report the double-standard-blackmail bullshit E was trying to pull.

You see, there wasn’t a grand announcement when I joined the staff as a TA.

In fact, there wasn’t any at all, if I can remember correctly.

So when E announced to the staff mailing list that she needed help finding the anti-plagiarism lesson because “one of her students didn’t know better” (or some such) and she’d lost it on the forum (where they kept all their important papers, apparently), she had No. Fucking. CLUE that I was aware the millisecond she not only broadcasted to the entire world that I was a giant cheater (which was a horrendous lie that had dire consequences), but displayed her fucking email address (this was through Yahoo Groups) so the shit could hit the fan rather royally.

And boys howdy did it ever!

Lots of caps?

Oh yeah!

At least three profane words?

I’d be shocked if there weren’t!

Statements wherein you [A] Called E a liar; [B] Told E that if she had a problem with you, she should’ve contacted you privately; [C] Accused E of “dragging your name through the mud” or any combination thereof?

[C] Absolutely; [B] Very good odds; and [A] 50/50 probability.

I don’t know how I ever thought railing against her could have ended well; but rage screams first and asks questions later.

I’m sure the first thing I did was get out of E’s class. “If she’s not my teacher, she can’t hold anything over my head and”…yeah, I don’t know how I thought that would work to get rid of the plagiarism accusation. My thought was just to get away from her, find another class and do well so I could get to “second year” and make the dean’s list.

I was going to say that the second thing I did was use my limited TA powers to kick myself out of the class I was subbing in; but now I feel like maybe I was locked out instead. (I don’t remember the nature of the class, but I think it was an easy-peasy one that any Wiccan or Pagan could teach with even so much as six months in the art under their belts.)

And then there was dealing with the Ruling Council of Wizard School—better known as the Dragon’s Eye.

(I don’t remember the name or title of the woman I dealt with, so let’s call her Morgan le Fay and let’s say she was the Dean of Students.)

This is where the timeline gets tricky, so bear with me.

Let’s imagine E didn’t snap back at me but immediately warned Morgan of my rage. I’m sure I got an email from Morgan saying that there was no reason that I should be upset; that all I had to do was complete the plagiarism assignment, and once I’d proven I knew where I went wrong and was penitent, the Dragon’s Eye would almost assuredly take me off suspension and I could get back to work.

Good thing there were computers between Morgan and I so I wouldn’t have to decide whether to smack her, scream at her, or both.

Naturally, I screamed.

I railed at her for siding with E and her double standards, for allowing E to drag my name through the mud with false accusations (that wasn’t an arbitrary statement earlier—I at least remember that much from this whole fiasco), etcetera. I don’t remember if I dropped my classes myself or if they did it for me, but I know I got out and I slept badly that night; and when I woke up (at 7 or 7:30 that morning—that’s how bad it was), there was a message from Morgan in my Hotmail box saying—among other things, I’m sure—that E wasn’t dragging my name through the mud.

As the kids used to say: that’s so funny, I forgot to laugh.

I don’t remember how it ended, but I know I threatened to report her to her ISP for harassment if she didn’t stop talking to me. (Probably not as much of a threat back then as it is now with cyberbullying laws, but it was my go-to to get people to shut up.)


So this is how my papers look nowadays. Here’s the results section from my term paper with the sentences replaced with word count and the citations left in:

[1 sentence] (TRC, n.d.). [1 sentence] (TRC, n.d.). MedlinePlus [sentence] (n.d.). [2 sentences]

[Part of a sentence], Foster and Duke (2000) [rest of the sentence]. [1 sentence]. WebMD (n.d.) [2 sentences]. Hausen [part of a sentence] (in 1996) [rest of the sentence, plus 1 more].

[Part of a sentence] Tenney (2007) [rest of the sentence]. [Part of a sentence], Lawless (1995) [rest of the sentence]. Ulbricht (2010) [1 sentence + large quote]. Drugs.com (n.d.) [1 sentence].

Naturally, I had a professor say once in undergrad, “You use too many citations.”

Amazing how fast he shut up when I told him this story!

Guess what?

When this

is on the line, there is NO SUCH THING as too many citations!

(I’m switching out of MSCAM and starting MSA in the spring, but this was the only ACHS masters I could find. Thanks, Chris!)


P.S. from the following month: Turns out I told this story in 2016. This version is better.

P.P.S. (062220): Now it seems like the class I was subbing for was on the elements. Like I said, easy!

I also left ACHS for SNHU to resume the grad program I left at the end of 2016. (Feel like I should put that in there, because I’m sure I’ll show this to professors as I go. Seems like I’ve already done it at least once.)

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