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Law Grad Admits Copying Part of His Commencement Speech from YouTube

Posted May 17, 2011 10:46 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A law graduate at North Carolina Central University delivered a commencement speech on Friday that touted the virtues of living an average life over the quest for fame and fortune.

But the speech by Preston Mitchum, 25, was below average in one respect: He admits that he copied the speech, some of it word-for-word, from a YouTube video made by a student at Binghamton University in New York, the News Observer reports. Above the Law noted the story.

The News Observer has an example. "This speech is for the student who doesn't see extra credit as an opportunity, but instead, a threat," Mitchum told graduates. Binghamton student Anthony Corvino put it this way: "This speech is for the student who has never seen extra credit as an opportunity, but instead a threat—the same student who still believes that one day, there will be a snow day."

Mitchum told the newspaper that he meant to credit Corvino, but he omitted it "out of nervousness and anxiousness and excitement." Mitchum was head of the law school student body and has published two law review articles. "I feel terrible,” Mitchum told the News Observer, “I know this is going to have a horrific backlash.”

Corvino is on Mitchum’s side, telling the newspaper that the law graduate got his approval to use parts of his speech. "I think it was just like a big accident he made," Corvino said.

NCCU law dean Raymond Pierce isn’t as sanguine. “Quite frankly, I'm disgusted," he told the newspaper. A faculty disciplinary committee is investigating.

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