The Union League Club of Chicago, a highly selective private civic and social club in the windy city, invited Nikole Hannah-Jones to give a keynote speech in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Jones, a professor at Howard University, is notable for having authored the New York Times’ 1619 Project, a long-form journalistic work that falsely argues America’s true foundation is in the institution of slavery.
Prior to Jones’ speech, a series of emails were leaked in which club members voiced their opposition to hosting Jones at their club. In one email Brian Daley, a Public Affairs Committee member for the club, pointed out that Jones’ 1619 Project had been criticized by historians and that the New York Times issued a “humiliating update” following widespread criticism of her work, according to reporting by Chicago City Wire.
The first time I caught a plagiarized essay was at the beginning of my career as an English professor over 20 years ago. Two of my students had turned in papers with more than a few suspiciously similar phrases, and a quick Google search revealed that they had lifted whole paragraphs directly from an academic website about American poetry that was, as far as I could tell, honestly trying to help students understand the subject.
The culture of student cheating on the Internet has come a long way since then, and the COVID-19 pandemic has brought it into even sharper focus. One thing that has changed dramatically in the past two decades is that students aren’t turning to crude HTML sites put together by well-intentioned poetry scholars to cheat on their assignments, but to sophisticated “homework help” sites like Chegg.com that grew by almost 70 percent during the pandemic, reaching a current market cap of $8.5 billion.
Chegg is trying to encourage university faculty to partner with it, claiming (accurately) that “90% of college students say they need more help with their studies.” But the solution to helping students with their homework isn’t to move them onto online platforms that could easily be exploited for student cheating. Rather, students need to work with peer tutors on their own campuses.