As members of the Dartmouth community we protest against the invitation of the German politician Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg to speak on campus this coming Tuesday. Guttenberg was forced to resign as the German Minister of Defense in 2011 because it became public knowledge that he plagiarized his dissertation. As has been well-documented, on 371 of the 393 pages of his dissertation there were 1218 fragments of other texts that were not his own writing, but were not attributed to the original sources (http://de.guttenplag.wikia.com/wiki/GuttenPlag_Wiki). Essentially, two-thirds of his dissertation text was plagiarized.
Although an independent university commission at the University of Bayreuth found unprecedented and most egregious “fraud" in his dissertation ("fraud" is a term in German law that presupposes planning and premeditation), Guttenberg completely has denied any deliberate wrongdoing--until today. (http://www.uni-bayreuth.de/info-zur-Causa-Guttenberg/index.html) Among others he justified his actions with the fact that he was under a lot of pressure as a father of young children and by downplaying the plagiarism as a "mistake."
For that reason, when Guttenberg spoke at Yale in November there were protests. (http://yaledailynews.com/crosscampus/2012/11/08/grad-students-stage-walk-out-against-former-german-minister/).
We have just started a new term, and at the beginning of each term, in each class, we remind students of the academic honors principle. It is the foundation upon which Dartmouth and academia rest. Students who violate that principle face a number of disciplinary actions, including expulsion from Dartmouth College. Inviting a speaker who so flagrantly disregards the bedrock upon which this institution stands is unacceptable. Mr. von Guttenberg might very well have insights to offer in business and public policy circles, but until he takes responsibility for his academic dishonesty and offers a genuine public acknowledgment of and apology for his wrong-doing, he has no business speaking on a college campus.
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