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Jakarta Post

North Sumatra University probes rector-elect for alleged plagiarism

  • Apriadi Gunawan

    The Jakarta Post

Medan   /   Fri, December 25, 2020   /   10:05 am
North Sumatra University probes rector-elect for alleged plagiarism University of North Sumatra campus. (Kompas.com/File)

The University of North Sumatra (USU), located in the provincial capital of Medan, has opened an investigation into rector-elect Muryanto Amin for alleged plagiarism.

Incumbent rector Runtung Sitepu has formed an internal investigation team to look into the allegation of academic dishonesty lodged against Muryanto.

USU chief librarian Jonner Hasugian, who is leading the internal investigation, said the alleged plagiarism occurred when Muryanto was the dean of the university’s social and political sciences department (FISIP). 

He said the matter came to light when an unidentified person sent an email to Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim that accused Muryanto of plagiarism in a research paper. The email was then somehow leaked and spread through WhatsApp groups.

"This is the first time that a USU rector-elect has been involved in alleged plagiarism, we are ashamed," Jonner told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

He said the internal team had made several important findings while investigating the allegation on Dec. 10 to 12, including Muryanto’s involvement in four separate plagiarism allegations: one in 2014, two in 2017 and one allegation of plagiarism in a 2018 dissertation submitted to apply for a professorship.

"We've handed all our findings to the current rector for follow-up," said Jonner.

Meanwhile, Runtung said the findings of the internal team were being discussed by the USU board of professors.

"The board will hand me the result and I will form a disciplinary [committee] to make a decision on the case," he said, adding that he would consult a plagiarism expert so the final decision would be objective.

This is the third plagiarism case at the university following a 2013 case involving a lecturer and another in 2015 involving a professor.

Read also: North Sumatra University on lockdown after lecturers test positive for COVID-19

Jonner said that the university had determined that both the lecturer and the professor had committed plagiarism. The two had been sanctioned with delayed promotion.

"They are also not allowed to hold any formal [academic] position inside or outside the university," he said, and that Muryanto could face a similar punishment if he was found guilty of plagiarism.

"The USU does not have a [precedent] for sanctioning a rector-elect, but learning from the plagiarism case that entangled the former rector of Jakarta State University, a rector-elect could be demoted for plagiarism," he said.

Asked about the possibility of stripping Muryanto of his upcoming rectorship, Runtung said that the decision was not within his jurisdiction.

"That is the authority of the USU board of trustees," he said.

Separately, Muryanto said that he had clarified the plagiarism allegation to the university's ethics committee.

"I don't want to comment further on this matter because it is still under investigation. Let's just wait until the process is completed," he told the Post.

The USU board of trustees on Dec. 3 elected Muryanto to succeed Runtung, whose term ends in January 2021.

Muryanto, 46, won over his competition with 57.75 percent of the vote and is the youngest rector-elect in the university’s history. (nal)