When I first constructed this web site three years ago, I had no idea how much controversy it would cause. Honestly, I just wanted to post some of my own writing here. Soon, hundreds of students were e-mailing me their essays to add to my list. Along with essays, I received tons of mail from students who said they really appreciated my site, and that it helped them more than I could ever know. I received no complaints from teachers, just praise from students. I suspected students were plagiarizing from my web site, but I wasn’t sure. It wouldn’t have taken much convincing for me to take down this site. When it was first constructed, I had to spend hundreds of hours processing essays and answering mail. It was a lot of work, and if someone had sent a polite e-mail regarding the ethics of this site, I would have ended it in a minute! Then one day, the judicial affairs department at my university called me into their office. I had to have a private meeting with the dean regarding my site. I was shocked to find out that their department had received approximately 50 calls from upset teachers! Every single one of them was asking the dean to expel me from the university — basically, kick me out! I never received any e-mail from these teachers. They never voiced their feelings to me, nor did they try to explain how my site hurt their students’ education. They decided to ignore me as a human, and try to ruin my future by taking away my chance at a college degree. Aren’t these people interested in protecting education? Obviously not, if they want to expel me from school. If any of these teachers had taken a minute to write a polite e-mail, they would have found out that I am a very reasonable, and compassionate person. They might have also found out that getting through college has been a major hardship for me. Neither of my parents went to college, and they had no interest in paying for my education. So, for the last six years of my life, I’ve been working full or part time to struggle through school. In my last year of school, those teachers were going to take all of that work away from me, without bothering to confront me about their feelings. At that point, I knew who my friends were! The students who sent me loving e-mail, praising me for helping them were my real friends! I learned that the First Amendment protected my right to have this site up, and those rude, insensitive teachers couldn’t touch me. So, I put more work into this site than ever before! Three years later, judicial affairs continues to receive vicious demands from teachers, and I hear nothing … until today! The letter copied to the right is the first polite e-mail I have ever received from a teacher. Because of Ms. Ball’s thoughtful letter, I am discontinuing this site. I don’t mean to “ditch” the students who used this site, but I really don’t think my essays are helping their education. In the long run, I’m helping them more by taking down this site. Please, let this be a lesson to everyone: if you are offended by some action a person takes, you should confront them and explain your feelings to them. You will be much more likely to get your way if you treat people with respect. If you blindly attack them because you’re angry, you’ll never get anywhere. Note: Can you believe I took down this site just short of one million visits!?
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