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DU teachers demoted over charges of plagiarism

  • Published at 10:48 pm January 28th, 2021
Samia Rahman, Syed Mahfujul Haque Marjan, & Muhammad Omor Faruq
Samia Rahman (L), Syed Mahfujul Haque Marjan (M), and Muhammad Omor Faruq (R) Collected

The decision was taken during a syndicate meeting on Thursday

Three faculty members from Dhaka University have faced consequences due to plagiarism in their research papers. Two of the faculty members have been demoted to lower positions.

The teachers facing consequences are Samia Rahman of the Mass Communication and Journalism department, Syed Mahfujul Haque Marjan of the Criminology department and Muhammad Omor Faruq of the Islamic History and Culture department.

Multiple members from the syndicate body of the university confirmed to Dhaka Tribune that the governing body of the university, with Vice-Chancellor Prof Akhtaruzzaman in chair, formed the decision on Thursday. 

On October 29 last year, the DU syndicate made Prof Rahmat Ullah, acting dean of DU’s law faculty and a syndicate member, the chairman of the tribunal determining Samia and Marjan’s punishment. 

The tribunal recommended that the syndicate cut-off an increment from each person as a punishment. The VC-led syndicate however, ordered the demotion of Samia from associate professor to assistant professor, and she cannot apply for a promotion in the next two years, said syndicate sources.

Marjan, however, is abroad on a study leave. He was meant to be promoted after his return. After decisions taken at Thursday’s syndicate meeting, he will remain as a lecturer for the next two years.

Muhammad Omar Faruq’s PhD degree was cancelled in 2018 following plagiarism charges but no academic action was taken against him then.

To determine his punishment, another tribunal was formed on October 29 2020, with syndicate member AFM Mesbah Uddin as its chairman. Thursday’s syndicate body listened to the recommendation of the tribunal and demoted Faruq to Lecturer from Assistant Professor. The syndicate also revoked the approval of his fake PhD paper.

Samia and Marjan’s article, “A New Dimension of Colonialism and Pop Culture: A Case Study of Cultural Imperialism,” was published in Social Science Review, the journal of the DU Faculty of Social Science in 2016. This article was reportedly plagiarized.

In 2017, a spokesperson from the University of Chicago Press reportedly lodged the plagiarism allegations against Samia and Marjan in a letter sent to the authorities from Dhaka University.

The spokesperson claimed that the two teachers co-authored an article which had copied material from French philosopher Michel Foucault’s article titled “The Subject and Power,” without proper citation. The letter was read out at the September 27, 2017 syndicate meeting.

The 19-page article by Foucault was published in the University of Chicago Press Journal in 1982.

When asked about the accusations, Marjan, in 2017, said that Samia Rahman was the first author of the article and if there were any problems, they were in her portion of the work.

Samia, who is also the head of current affairs at a private television channel, said: “I was abroad when the article was published. He (Marjan) submitted it without consulting me.” 

She claimed that she filed a complaint to the then Social Science Faculty Dean Farid Uddin Ahmed (present VC of SUST) after seeing the article published in her name without her consent. The dean’s office failed to respond.