I was a student at Florida State University (FSU). I am writing to support NCAA's penalties including the vacation-of-wins for academic fraud occurred at FSU. I am also a victim of another serious but unsolved academic misconduct occurred at FSU last year. Based on my experience, the academic integrity has been serious challenged not only by individual immoral faculty, but also by high level administrators at FSU.
I have read the full content of FSU president Wetherell's message in which he wove to appeal the sanction connected with the academic misconduct at FSU. I had also read the copy of president Wetherell's letter to NCAA in which he claimed that FSU had already done a throughout investigation and executed enough penalties to the students and faculties who were involved in the academic fraud case.
Despite the large amount of the athletic-students (61) and their advisors (3) were involved in the academic fraud case, despite the academic frauds had been done more than one year before it had been reported by a student, despite the motivation of these advisors involved in the academic cheating case have not been revealed, the FSU dressed up itself as the university maintained the highest regard for maintaining academic integrity and promised to fight NCAA's ruling of vacation-of-wins because truth and justice have no cost. From the letter and the announcement, FSU's cavalier attitude toward the academic fraud is obvious. The more I think about this, the more disappointed I felt in Florida State University.
The purpose to maintain the academic integrity in school/college should be to protect students' rights for their qualified education. However, I believe that FSU has the trouble in understanding the purpose of the academic integrity at the university. Nor has it ever considered who has been most seriously damaged due to the academic cheating. In fact, not only the athletic students who involved in the case had gotten unqualified education, but also the other students got a cheap credit because of the existance of academic cheating at FSU. It is FSU students who have been most seriously damaged. However, all FSU have cared is its fake reputation and how they can keep the wins related to the academic cheating.
Based on my knowledge, the academic integrity has been educated even in US elementary school. Why should FSU be the exemption? The other big questions are what benefit the students will have if FSU win the appeal and get back the full account of wins? Who will most likely be benefited by counting in this wins? One thing I would like to say that it is neither the FSU athletic students nor the other FSU students! FSU students will be laughed at if they count in these wins; the academic integrity at FSU will be threatened further if whatever actions are taken to get the wins based on cheating. It will be the shame of US higher education if the academic cheating becomes forgivable or normal!
I am saying that because I am also the victim of another academic misconduct case occurred at FSU last year. Based on my experience, I could not agree that FSU maintained the highest regard for maintaining academic integrity. In my case, a so-called throughout inquiry/investigation had been completed behind closed doors by sacrificing student's rights and the higher education ethics. The truth had been covered up by distorting of the truth, FSU policies, and the high ethic standard of higher education and research, and by the baseless assumptions. Moreover, retaliation and defamation against me because of my allegation were used to maintain the highest regard for maintaining academic integrity.
My Allegation of Scientific Misconduct at FSU
On February 2008, I had submitted an allegation of misconduct against a faculty member (Professor, Dr. Jim P. Zheng at the College of Engineering, FSU), who plagiarized my research including the published journal papers as his own and obtained over $450,000 research funding by using my name, my proposals, and inventions (patents, journal papers) without my permission. In addition, the professor blocked me out from the funded projects in which more patentable techniques have been proposed by me and I was the only one who was actually working on these projects then. I consider these to be serious academic misconducts of plagiarism in academic publication and scientific proposal for research funds. These could also be the serious fraud and mishandling of government money.
In the following, I will disclose the real attitude of FSU towards the academic integrity based on my experience:
1) The so called throughout inquiry/investigation for my allegation of academic misconduct.
Under my request, FUS appointed an Inquiry Committee from the College of Engineering. I had submitted abundant evidence with my allegation and most of the evidence was originally obtained from the Department of Electrical Engineering or the Office of Research at FSU. The evidence included my original papers and the professor's paper in which the critical parts were copied from my publication; the evidence that I was the principal inventor of the patents (pending) (please check the attachment Ev-1), and the evidence of the funded projects and the copy of my payment history during the period of the funded projects, etc. However, the Inquiry Committee denied my allegation simply using the reason of my English imperfection and my status of being a Student (please check the attachment Ev-2). They had never inquired me about my allegation during the entire inquiry procedure and refused to respond my inquiry and concerns about their correct understanding of my allegation. They denied my allegation by ignoring all of the evidence and used professor-student relationship and baseless assumptions to support their conclusion that there was no misconduct in my allegation.
2) The weird standard and attitude towards the academic integrity
Because the Inquiry Committee even had given me no answer regarding a FSU funded research project that was awarded to my first invention but Dr. Jim P. Zheng completely took over all of the benefits from me, I requested the top level administrator at FSU to judge the immoral behaviors based on FSU's policy and the common academic integrity by sending emails and the evidence to FSU President and Vice President of Research. However, President Wetherell has given me no response, and Dr. Kemper, the Vice President of Research at FSU, responded me that the professor had no obligation to include me in the funded projects because the patents (pending) were the properties of FSU and it made no difference whether I was the first inventor in all of my patents and papers or not. Based on this weird logic, he finally judged that Dr. Jim P. Zheng could exclude me from the projects because I was a student and Dr. Jim P Zheng was a faculty member of FSU and the co-inventor in my invention (please check the attachment Ev-3).
It is obviously that Dr. Kemper has the confusion understanding of the difference between the inventor and the assignee of the patent. FSU is the assignee of the patents based on my invention, however that should not change the truth that I am the inventor of my invention, that also would not give FSU the authority to invalidate my rights in research as the principal inventor of my invention!
I do not think that Dr. Kemper's confusion understanding is just a misunderstanding. How can a Vice President of Research be careless that FSU got the patents from a student but does not know who is the principal inventor of these inventions? How can the Vice President of Research be careless of the inventors's benefots and credits? His confusion understanding is actually the disrespecting of the students and the violance of the students' rights!
It is the same cavalier attitude and logic that FSU has claimed no obligation to monitor and record the academic activity, despite the activity is directly happened between me and the research office at FSU, not just between me and Dr. Jim P. Zheng, despite Dr. Jim P. Zheng plagiarized my published journal paper not just a draft! It is the same cavalier attitude towards the academic integrity that FSU covers up the misconduct by distorting the common academic standard.
In my case, it is again that FSU liked its reputation such as credits/wins more than its duty to protect students' rights and benefits. I believe that my case is just one of the examples those can explain the real situation of that FSU maintained highest regards for maintaining the academic integrity. FSU may think it is wise to take students advantage without any cost, because the students usually has no much resource to fight a university even if FSU refuses to follow its promised policy or common standard of ethic. Their nonfeasance is actually the sign to encourage the immoral faculty to do more misconduct against the students at FSU!
3) The retaliation and defamation against the complainant
The more serious issues occurred during the Inquiry Procedure are the retaliation and defamation against me because of my allegation:
a) I have received a Trespass Warning from FSU on April 10 2008 requested by Dr. Awoniyi (the Chair of the Inquiry Committee) and Dr. Jim P. Zheng (the defendant in my allegation) during the period of the Inquiry Procedure. Mr. Sgt. Randy Hunter (the Detective at FSU police department, 850-644-1203) and other people can prove that I did not do anything improper to gain the warning. Their purpose of applying for the warning is to exclude me from the campus and make me hard to contact FSU's resource to continue my allegation of academic misconduct.
As a state running university, FSU should accept anyone who has the proper use of the university. I was a FSU student and I was dealing my allegation with FSU. I think the Trespass Warning is the violation of my right and the retaliation against me because of my allegation.
b) Dr. DeBrunner, the chair of Electrical & Computer Department, together with Dr. Awoniyi and Dr. Jim P Zheng, told FSU police department that I stole some laboratory notebooks from Dr. Jim P Zheng's Laboratory (information source: the FSU police department). The police department refused their claim because of no evidence but still issued me the warning on their request. I believe that this immoral behavior is the defamation against me.
My last visiting of the laboratory is three months before they reported the missing of laboratory notebooks. The student at that laboratory opened the door, staid with me and helped me to take my private items. I asked FSU which laboratory notebooks were missing, however I got no answer. I am worrying that the laboratory notebooks having the evidence for my allegation were missing. It is the suspension of destroying of the evidences.
Their immoral behaviors seriously violated my rights and the published FSU policies in which fair and professional inquiry/investigation procedure was advocated.
4) The actual winner of the misconducts
During my dissertation research, I had done tremendous contributions to the scientific research and brought many honors to FSU. I had developed two patents at FSU, won an international award in the name of FSU and myself. Some major U.S. and Canadian industry companies contacted FSU because of their interests in licensing my patents and requesting research cooperation (information source: The Office of Research at FSU). One of my inventions has also been listed as a New Research Trend in a highly respected scientific review journal. However, my research achievements and benefits of these inventions have been stolen/robbed and damaged due to Dr. Jim P Zheng's misconducts including plagiarism, mishandling of research funding, and student abuse.
Dr. Jim P. Zheng once said to me that I would be more miserable if I complain his immoral behaviors to FSU or to the public. Right now, I could get nothing more than the useless/cheap PhD degree. I could not continue my proposed inventions. I even could not find an appropriate job to utilize my experiences and knowledge from my research at FSU because I would not get recommendation for my exact academic contributions to my research. Moreover, I was told that it was better for me to change my career after my graduation. That is the exact compensation or reward I obtained from FSU ----- it is the university always maintained the highest regard for maintaining academic integrity, and it is the university that claimed itself as one of the most famous research universities!
In contrast, FSU listed Dr. Jim P. Zheng as an expert in my research, despite he had no experiences before I got my research achievement and he had done nothing helpful to my research. FSU got big research project in which Dr. Jim P. Zheng had been listed as the key investigator because of his contribution that was actually stolen from my research. FSU is enjoying the possible cooperation with some big companies based on my inventions.
My Opinions and Support to NCAA's Penalties
FSU likes all of the reputation and benefits but they do not care whether these benefits are actually based on the misconducts and serious violence of the student's rights. From my experiences at FSU, I have to say that FSU has not cared academic integrity.
I firmly support NCAA's penalties including the vacation-of-wins for academic fraud occurred at FSU. If let FSU keep these wins, it may encourage FSU or other university to do whatever misconducts for the wins. Furthermore, I hope NCAA can conduct more serious inquiry and investigation to make it clear why so many faculties have been involved in this academic cheating!
Meanwhile, I hope my personal case could cause more attention from people and so that all of the students, not only the athletic students, can be effectively protected from the academic misconduct. Therefore, the behaviors of gaining credits through sacrificing students' rights in higher education could be stopped as soon as possible.