Suffolk student accused of plagiarism, blog post goes viral


By Facebook user Tiffany Corin Martínez

Suffolk University has quickly become the center of controversy in a social media frenzy. On Thursday, 21-year-old McNair Fellow, first generation college student, latina and U.S. citizen Tiffany Martínez posted on her blog “Viva Tiffany” an article entitled “Academia, Love Me Back,” highlighting an assignment that she had received back from her sociology professor, in which she was accused of plagiarism.

The Suffolk senior sociology major said that her professor had handed back a literature review Thursday morning that she had done for class. Martínez said in her blog post that the professor said in front of the class “This is not your language.”

Martínez told The Suffolk Journal in a phone conversation on Friday afternoon that she was going to a Dean’s office in the afternoon for a meeting. After the meeting, she did not yet respond to communication regarding an interview as of late Friday night.

“This morning, my professor handed me back a paper (a literature review) in front of my entire class and exclaimed ‘this is not your language.’ On the top of the page they wrote in blue ink: “‘Please go back and indicate where you cut and paste,’” Martínez said in her post.

The blog post that Martínez had originally posted on her personal Facebook profile has been shared more than 10,700 times, as of late Friday night.

In her blog post, she included other details of her encounter with the currently unnamed sociology professor, which include the professor circling the word “hence” and wrote next to the word, “this is not your word” with the word “not” underlined twice. Martínez had included a photo of the top of the paper she submitted on the blog post, where the professor wrote “please indicate where you cut and paste.”

“My last name and appearance immediately instills a set of biases before I have the chance to open my mouth,” wrote Martínez in her blog post. “These stereotypes and generalizations forced on marginalized communities are at times debilitating and painful. As a minority in my classrooms, I continuously hear my peers and professors use language that both covertly and overtly oppresses the communities I belong to.”

Martínez’s blog post discussed that her professor believed the language she used was not original without inquiring further, but simply assuming the content was not her own.

Martínez, who had served as one of the most prominent student voices on campus during the debacle between former President Margaret McKenna and the Board of Trustees during the spring semester, including being featured on the cover of a Boston Herald that covered one of the student protests, has had the contents of her blog post published in various news outlets including BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post as of Friday night.

In a recent article by The Journal, Martínez had provided an inclusive perspective in regards to the Latinx community in a seminar on Oct. 11.

“I just want to make sure that people understand that my experiences are just as valid as anyone else’s and no one should ever just push me to the side,” Martinez said to a Journal reporter in a post-presentation interview on Oct. 11.

Tamerra Griffin, a Buzzfeed news reporter, referenced Martínez in an article Friday afternoon “A Professor Circled ‘Hence’ On A Latina Student’s Paper And Wrote ‘This Is Not Your Word,’” stating that “She felt terrified after the incident.”

“I spent the rest of the class going back through every single line, every single citation to make sure that nothing had been plagiarized, even though I knew I hadn’t,” said Martínez to BuzzFeed reporters.

Buzzfeed reported that Martínez had brought to the incident to the sociology department chair and that the Chair has launched an investigation.

The Journal has contacted the sociology department for comment.

Suffolk’s Acting President Marisa Kelly and Acting Provost Sebastián Royo sent an email to the members of the Suffolk community Friday afternoon regarding the incident.

As an institution that was founded on the highest principles of inclusivity and respect, we take this and any such concern extremely seriously,” said the email.

Kelly and Royo explained in their email that Suffolk is deeply committed to supporting students and fostering an inclusive environment, respecting each and every member of the university community.

The hashtag #hence has been shared across social media outlets and has reached a global audience, according to Twitter analytics. With more than 110,000 impressions, IP addresses were tracked that shared the hashtag which showed evidence of it traveling to Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Sweden. Some IP addresses were tracked back to the Philippines as of Saturday morning. 


Editor’s Note: If you have any information on the investigation or were a witness in the classroom, please contact the Alexa Gagosz, the Editor-in-Chief, by emailing [email protected]