The recent post about how background characteristics and former experiences shape people’s behavior reminded me of a case that raises questions about where we should draw the line in being sensitive to people’s various circumstances.
In a plagiarism case with a graduate student, a colleague once told me: “Well, this is cultural, where he is from [insert country], this is common and often allowed.” My colleague thought that therefore we shouldn’t make a big deal out of it. I found this approach very frustrating. For one thing, the graduate student had already spent over four years at American institutions. Wouldn’t that amount of time be enough to teach someone that plagiarism is not okay at American universities?
How far can/should we stretch sensitivity to different types of behavior based on differences in background?