Discipline and Punish

April 10, 2008

Poppleton University's successful history of outsourcing was given a new boost with last week's announcement that academic staff discipline was to be outsourced to HM Prison Service.

Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs, explained that the move was a logical extension of the outsourcing strategy that had already seen the successful transfer to outside bodies of such other university functions as campus catering, staff recruitment, marking, car park signage and first-year undergraduate teaching. He pointed out that HM Prison Service's experience in devising punishments for a wide range of offences meant that they were admirably suited to dealing with campus infractions.

When pressed for more details, he revealed that a small cadre of uniformed warders would shortly take up surveillance positions at key points on campus. Following the detection of a misdemeanour, they would select from a range of punitive sanctions: confinement of the offender to their tutorial office, restricted diet in the Burger King dining halls, forfeiture of exercise on the campus covered ways, withdrawal of photocopying rights and, in extreme cases, an extended period of sensory and intellectual deprivation in the Continuing Education Department.

DOCTOR 'DOCTORED'

We learnt last week that Doctor Liam Shanks, a junior member of our Department of Zoology, had been relieved of his doctorate on the grounds of plagiarism.

Mr (formerly Doctor) Shanks achieved his PhD in 2005 with a thesis based on extensive fieldwork entitled "Karyologic evolution and unresolved phylogeny: the case of land iguanas". At the time this was assessed by his external examiner as "a valuable contribution to evolutionary theory", but complaints were subsequently received from other scholars in the field of iguana studies. These scholars pointed to "certain similarities" between Doctor Shanks's description of iguanas as "ugly animals of a yellowish orange beneath, and of a brownish colour above" and Charles Darwin's 1831 description of the species as "ugly animals of a yellowish orange beneath, and of a brownish colour above". Further questions about the originality of the thesis were raised after the discovery of a footnote that appeared to suggest that Doctor Shanks had sailed to his fieldwork site on HMS Beagle.

Doctor Shanks was divested of his doctorate in a brief informal ceremony held in the Department of Zoology last Thursday and is being held in C Block for 42 days under the recently introduced Suppression of Plagiarism Act.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Dear Sir,

I had a very strange experience recently when travelling by Eurostar from London to Paris. We'd barely left St Pancras Station when I noticed that the middle-aged man across the aisle from me was reading a newsletter that looked remarkably like The Poppletonian. Only when I edged closer did I realise it was a copy of Building and Construction News.

Have any other readers had similarly strange experiences on trains?

Doctor K.D. Strang, Department of Parapsychology

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

(Contributed by Jennifer Doubleday. Head of Personal Development)

Success comes in cans, failure in can'ts

APOLOGY

Last week, we erroneously described Doctor Susan Brownmoor of the Department of Biology as "research active". This was an incomplete designation. We should have said that she was "RAE-excluded research active". We're sorry for any distress this might have caused to "RAE-included research active" staff.

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