Watch: Striking, er, similarities between Duke student's 2022 commencement speech and Harvard student's speech from 2014

Originally published at: Watch: Striking, er, similarities between Duke student's 2022 commencement speech and Harvard student's speech from 2014 | Boing Boing


Parkash has hired a PR firm, as one does,

This is the best part of the story for me. Who among us didn’t hire a reputation damage repair consultant when we screwed up in college?

Somehow I’m guessing this person isn’t going to be one who’s concerned about paying off student debt as she heads off into post-college life.


Are Commencement Speeches part of the weird USA education / university culture, like proms, sororities & fraternities, and other such things?

Honest question, as I find that whole culture weirdly fascinating and alien, and I never went to Uni myself, so don’t know if there are equivalent practices in UK uni culture.


Wow, way to throw her “respected friends and family,” under the bus for, I guess, allegedly sending her plagiarized passages from other speeches and suggesting she include them in her speech without telling her? WTF?


It’s just coincidence. Really.


I don’t know about traditions outside of the US, but frequently the class valedictorian is asked to give a commencement speech, which, honestly, seems to be asking a lot. It may be considered an honor, but it still seems like punishing a student with extra responsibility as the “reward” for doing better academically than all their peers. And the skills it takes to become valedictorian don’t always overlap with the skills of writing and delivering good public speeches.

Also, as far a ripping off other people’s speeches goes, this student at least changed up the language a bit more than some other high-profile speech plagiarists:


I’d suggest hiring more than a PR firm. If she was blasé about a commencement speech that would be posted online and seen and dissected by thousands, if not millions, then I wonder if her academic work is also suspect.


I once had a student whose 5-page paper was around 90% identical to a textbook used by a professor in another section of the same US history class. She fought the plagiarism charge, so with the Dean, Chair, and student sitting at a table, I put the paper on an overhead and read from the textbook.

Her response: “That’s a complete coincidence. I’m not sure how it happened, but it did. I absolutely did not copy from that textbook.” She never gave in, either.

ETA for @ClutchLinkey and others: She failed the course.


What’s that saying about enough monkeys at enough typewriters?

But now I have to know, what was the outcome?

Somewhat related I once had to deal with a subcontractor we hired to help develop training curriculum delivering a bunch of plagiarized stuff. I was SO pissed by the end of that. I had to basically rewrite the entire course and they also pretended to not know that what they’d done was wrong. And they were NOT cheap. I hate that company to this day.


How in #$^ did she think she’d get away with this???

Only the best and brightest.


Plagiarists and people who fake their credentials tend to be particularly brazen from what I’ve seen. For whatever reason, there’s a lot of arrogance and contempt for others driving it.


She should have used the “Wear Sunscreen” speech! It’s a great speech and nobody’s going to remember that one. Ever.
Class of '99


I like how “topics” segues into “suggested passages.” Even if the “passages” supplied to her were original, I would have assumed that valedictorians wrote their own speeches–as they should. What an a-hole.


Damn, you got there first! (shakes fist)


IMO, there’s a certain laziness or sense of entitlement that leads to situations like this. We see cases of parents cheating for their children or enabling it, as well as the promotion of an attitude that working hard is for suckers (or if you can’t win fairly, cheat). There are an increasing number of folks who believe that it doesn’t matter as long as they don’t get caught. Systems involving merit and honor go right out the window after that, along with grades, standardized test scores, GPAs, etc…

Unless they have a system that supports and rewards their mediocrity, the lack of knowledge and/or skills will catch up to them at some point. This is why corporate managers complain about the new hires who have all the credentials on paper, but cannot do their own work. For those that have that system, one day they might become a POTUS or a Supreme Court Justice.

Jimmy Fallon Reaction GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon


Sometimes it doesn’t even matter if you do get caught. (I gladly voted for Biden in 2020 and will enthusiastically vote for him again if he is the Democratic Party’s nominee in 2024, but he is part of the problem)


What’s really odd is that there is a whole industry dedicated to writing speeches for people who have to make a speech but feel overwhelmed by the whole ‘writing a speech’ business.

Anyone who can hire a PR firm should have no difficulty finding a speech writer.


Yeah but you have to admit that Melania’s memoir about growing up as a Black woman in the south side of Chicago was a compelling and inspiring read.


I’ve read up on that incident, and – take this as you will – Biden had attributed the “plagiarized” parts of that speech to Neil Kinnock – a speech he had given many times while campaigning – but had failed to do so at the Iowa State Fair, and was “caught.”

The thing to remember is, that incident derailed Biden’s Presidential aspirations in 1988. Today, people running for office lie and cheat and grope and make pacts with the Devil, and it barely makes a ripple.


OK, but …

All commencement speeches should be plagiarized. Every college should give the same (hopefully short) commencement speech every year.