Latina student Tiffany Martinez used "hence" in a paper, professor said she plagiarized
Time for some Institutional Racism 101.
Bronx, New York-born Tiffany Martinez, a student at Suffolk University, shared a blog post Thursday that recounted the emotional stress she experienced after one of her professors accused her of plagiarism.
In the blog, Martinez recounted the professor handing back her assignment and saying, "This is not your language" in front of the class. Martinez shared a photograph of the paper on Facebook, on which the professor had circled the word "hence" and wrote "This is not your word" with the word "not" underlined twice.
"As I stood in the front of the class while a professor challenged my intelligence I could just imagine them reading my paper in their home thinking, 'Could someone like her write something like this?'" Martinez wrote in her blog post.
"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," she added. "Therefore, I do not always feel safe when I attempt to advocate for my people in these spaces."
Martinez shared her blog post on social media, which has so far garnered over 5,000 likes, 1,000 comments and 12,000 shares.
Martinez did not immediately respond to Mic's request for comment, but she told BuzzFeed, "It's surreal how overwhelmingly supportive the academic community has been, but they're also telling me, 'This isn't going to end now.'"
Martinez also told BuzzFeed that she has not spoken with her professor, but has spoken to the sociology department, which has launched an investigation.
The Suffolk University sociology department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Women of color in academia face a host of challenges, many of which were documented and analyzed in the 2012 book Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia.
In the introduction, the co-authors wrote:
On the one hand, the university champions meritocracy, encourages free expression and the search for truth, and prizes the creation of neutral and objective knowledge for the betterment of society — values that are supposed to make race and gender identities irrelevant. On the other hand, women of color too frequently find themselves "presumed incompetent" as scholars, teachers, and participants in academic governance.
Hopefully that changes, given that women of color are making huge strides in academia; According to a 2013 report from the Center for American Progress, the number of bachelor's degrees earned by women of color jumped 65% between 1998 and 2008.