NewsMarch 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Plagiarism Or Content Overlap? What’s Your Damage, UA?

Penn, meet Jake Shuster, current Undergraduate Assembly Treasurer and presidential candidate in the upcoming UA elections. As a freshman Money Booster, Shuster caused some StudGov drama after sending out a mass email encouraging his classmates to vote for him instead of reelecting Jon Youshaei, the freshman class prez. Whew.

Now a junior, Shuster is in the news again, this time over allegations of campaign platform plagiarism. Ruh-roh. That Ivy League internet trash compactor IvyGate has undertaken an investigation into the similarities between the campaign platforms of current UA Prez and VP Tyler Ernst and Faye Cheng (respectively) from last year and that of would-be president Shuster. Though smug and sensational, IvyGate‘s post does raise some serious concerns about the campaign that shouldn’t be ignored. Naturally, Shuster didn’t take these jabs lying down. 

In a response, Shuster wrote the following:

I’ve been on UA leadership for several years and, it is important to me that our best initiatives are continued and executed under my tenure. Very simply, I was alongside Exec for many brainstorming sessions, both with Tyler and Faye during their campaign, and also throughout this past year. Is there an appreciable amount of overlap? Yes. Is that natural, and do I have plenty of newly-created ideas? Absolutely. These ideas come as I have conversations with you.  I take the best ideas and update my platform in real-time. This will continue to happen throughout the campaign.

What say you? Plagiarism or content overlap? Let us know in the comments.

34 People have left comments on this post

By UA on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Doesn’t this make jake a better candidate? Hea collaborating with the UA! Dan doesn’t have relationships with the leadership

By RESTORE SANITY (and competence) on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

This whole accusation is silly and obviously orchestrated by his opponent (I know what you did, Dan.) All those who actually have ever had success working on UA projects (not Dan) know that projects are rarely ever completed in one year. All of Tyler and Faye’s ideas have been incorporated into the UA’s overall project work (in turn their ideas were inspired by previous UA leaders), so it’s natural that any member would plan to work on them again in the future. This is like saying that one is plagiarizing someone else’s platform because more than one person supports marriage equality. Come on.

If I were running for president, I would focus on getting shit done instead of trying to screw over other people’s lives in a national news outlet over a student government election.

By Vote Jake on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

1-Ivygate blog is terrible and has factual errors all the time.
2-If anything this helps Jake’s candidacy. Jake and Dan should both be working with Tyler and Faye, as they are on the UA. I’m happy to see that Jake gets along with the UA’s leadership. It makes it seem more likely that he will succeed in pursuing projects next year!

By Penn Junior on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I still think Jake is the better choice. He has the experience, the knowledge, and the connections to reform the UA. He continues to listen to students and takes their advice and opinions and works them into his platform. This accusation is a stretch — many of last year’s issues continue to today and students like me would like to see these issues finally taken care of. Jake has my vote.

By C13 on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

This is the feeblest attempt yet to create Shuster drama where there isn’t any. Jake works with Tyler and Faye. Of course they all say the same shit. It’s hardly plagiarism when the person you’re “stealing” from gives you the material. At worst, it’s some lazy recycling.
Props to team Dan though for some absolutely thorough Internet scouring to tip off ivy gate. Takes some serious slime to go through old dp articles and Facebook groups to find such ultimately inconsequential material upon which to build a non-scandal. Crazy right?

By Platforms on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

JHake’s platform looks damn good ( He seems to have tangible ideas that can actually happen. With or without Tyler and Faye’s help he’s got my vote.

By Still voting for jake on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Well that looks…not the best. That said, who the hell cares enough about the ua elections to send such a complicated tip? Jesus Christ.
Oh right. The guy running against him who couldn’t get any of the important endorsements yesterday. Sorry Dan. It’s been real.

By C '13 on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

The silent majority at Penn – those who don’t give a shit what the UA does and who are tired of being bombarded with self-justification from them (anyone remember when last year one of the bigest projects they engaged in was where they put up signs announcing everything they had done?), but still are hoping that Jake Shuster gets his ass royally handed to him.

By Jibby on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

If I’m Shuster’s campaign manager, I just wipe the website clean and come up with a new campaign motto… “Jake Shuster: The whiter and *slightly* less flamboyant Ernest Owens”

By Troubling. on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

While I don’t think this suggests anything terribly significant about Jake and his ability to do an adequate job as UA President, this is very troubling. His statement makes sense — after working with Tyler and Faye, there’s bound to be overlap in policy objectives. But the fact that IvyGate proved that Jake borrowed Tyler and Faye’s words verbatim is important. It shows that Jake is trying to ride the coattails of the previous leaders into the position. It shows that he plans to continue the UA on the track it has been headed on, and it shows that he does not think it necessary to do more than copy/paste his platform (or at least parts of it.

I was previously on the fence in this election, but this demonstrates pretty clearly to me that Jake simply doesn’t care as much as Dan does.

By scandal? on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

really? does anyone honestly expect us to believe that an “anonymous tipster” sent this in? it’s pretty clear that this is an attempt by dan to make jake look bad. the entire premise of dan’s campaign/video is that nobody has any idea what the ua does. and i agree with that, no one knows/cares about what the ua does. but, dan, if no one cares/knows what the ua does, then who would go a look at tyler and faye’s platform? only dan.

also, i can’t believe people call jake shuster conniving and “the scandal booster” when dan is pulling this type of shit. look who is the conniving and scandal-boosting one now….

By MG on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Anyone else find it interesting that all but 2 of the above comments support Shuster? Jake must be really popular (really does anyone believe that?) or he’s commenting as different people.
#typicalLazyGovt #copyandpaste

By Guy on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm


By @jibby on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

The difference is Ernest purposefully creates drama around himself, whereas for some reason beyond my comprehension, this poor excuse for a gossip blog loves to create drama around jake. Who, as far as I can tell, has been a pretty professional, if opinionated student leader since his somewhat regrettable freshman antics.
Additionally, Ernest was all over this story on facebook this morning before anyone even heard about it. Who reads ivygate that religiously? I wouldn’t be surprised if Ernest actually has something to do with this. Which says a lot about its credibility.

By ivygate on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

wtf is ivygate? like actually can someone explain this website to me. correct me if i’m wrong, but it looks like shitty sensational media out to cause drama and ruin the lives of rich, smart, 20-yo kids.

By J.K. Trotter on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Wait. Wait wait wait.

Jake Shuster plagiarized—verbatim—the campaign materials of Tyler Ernst and Faye Cheng, with whom he is on the record for joking about hazing.

This not about whether Jake (or Dan) can collaborate with leaders of the UA. This is about whether Jake copied the platform of his predecessors word by word, and then lied about doing so.

By can you read? on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

you guys are absolutely right, this article is all about how dan is conniving.


did anyone even read the ivygate blog? it’s SCATHING and they have legitimate reason to think there was foul play. so put your allegiance away for a second and think about the actual implications of a president who doesn’t even put any work into his campaign but thinks he can ride on the laurels of his popularity.

By Interesting on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I don’t know much about either candidate, but based on other articles it seems like what people like about Dan is that he is a really stand up guy.

That being said, it’s hard to believe that he would actually try to sabotage Jake’s campaign. It was probably just someone who just wanted to stir the pot (my guess is Ernest) or someone with a grudge against Jake. Based on the comments on past articles, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone disliked him enough to do that.

By pennkid on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

If you guys think that Dan orchestrated this, you are just fishing for a reason to dislike him. What’s important is that Dan is honest about bringing to fruition his own ideas, whereas Jake is more or less trying to do the same thing that the UA’s current leadership is focused on. And let’s face it… they haven’t exactly been doing their job. A fresh face is what the UA needs. Dan is the right new face for UA President. He cares more about doing the right thing.

By Class Clown on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

First, “Money Booster”? Really? Are we still freshmen trying to win a popularity contest?

Second, if you think Jake is willing to work hard for the student body if he can’t even put some original thought into his platforms, think again.

What a disgrace to the Class of 2013. I’m voting for Dan.

By Several problems on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

A few points that everyone on here should think about:

1) Stop ignoring the larger claim being made: plagiarism is NOT content overlap. I understand that all the candidates are discussing the same things, but to seriously copy word from word someone else’s shit speaks volumes to one’s character.

2) The racial and scapegoat overtones being used by some are problematic. The reference to Jake being a “whiter” Ernest was unnecessary and only fosters the ignorant pun culture Penn has been fostering. In addition, shifting blame on individuals irrelevant (in this case Owens, Dan) for actions that Jake is being accused of doing doesn’t excuse his act of plagiarism. Jake has backstabbed a lot of individuals to get to where he is so I am honestly not surprised that he got caught in the act. When your reputation is that dirty, you should not expect people to challenge you. Lesson learned.

3) Seriously, people need to look closer at the motives of these candidates rather than be quick to dismiss it all. Whether guilty or not, Jake Shuster has found himself in scandal after scandal from Freshman days to Haze days (no pun intended) and yet his supporters expect others to continue to override and ignore these major flaws. In addition, for the representation of this overall body I personally prefer someone who is focused on the tasks at hand and not one step closer to another scandal. For good or for worse, what I respect about Ernest is that he understands his role on campus and where to fixate and shift his energies. For all of his madness, he considers himself a “media empire” guy and not someone trying to lead the entire student government. Jake is not so far from the scandals and unfortunately, unlike Ernest who is in control of his press (column, radio, etc.) Jake is out of control. I seriously recommend everyone to notice how Dan Bernick isn’t even referenced in these articles nor does he want to be publicly condemning Shuster. If I was a presidential candidate, I would use it as ammo to support my candidacy but not Bernick. Once again, we are given the chance to see how mature and ready this guy is to lead. With all due respect, Dan Bernick is the most confident choice for UA president in this race.

By caro on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

This pretty much cements it. Jake Shuster “the Money Booster” (first of all, what the HELL does that even mean? Does he seriously think he can get a slogan like that to UA president?) is not the one I’ll be voting for.

I’m voting for Dan Bernick. He’s the one with integrity, who doesn’t have his name attached to every single scandal on campus, and the one with an actual understanding of Penn and our culture.
Jake Shuster needs to money boost his way out of UA, and let’s elect someone who actually gets Penn. Go Dan

By Penn 2013 on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

The point is, Schuster plagiarized content word for word. How is that acceptable if he is a candidate for the highest position in student government?

By Time for Change? on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Isn’t the most important point that voting for Shuster is essentially VOTING FOR THE SAME OLD PROMISES!

Shuster is essentially saying “vote for me, I’ll promise all the same things my predecessors did, but they won’t be empty promises this time.”

It’s actually kind of embarrassing that Shuster got caught for this. It makes Penn look bad.

I personally don’t see why Penn would be silly enough to vote for someone who obviously is more concerned with the ego trip of being a campus politician, than actually offering insight into what Penn needs and formulating his own solutions.

Dan Bernick looks like he’s actually put the effort into putting forward is OWN, INDEPENDENT analysis and critique of the issues facing Penn students (and he seems open to input from more than just UA bigwigs), and he seems to offer change from the same old cycle of UA politics.

By Put them to the test on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I want to see a public debate. If Jake really does know his shit and isn’t just copying from last year’s platform, that will show.

By Status Quo? on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Lets take it for what it is. This is a symbol that if Jake wins, the UA will be the same as last year with the same processes, same mission, and most importantly SAME RESULTS. Good or bad? I have no idea. Someone enlighten me on the UA results this past year, besides the hazing incident PLZ! If its good, Jake is the man. If its bad, Dan is the necessary risk.

By Really though on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

he knows he did something wrong because he changed his website after press caught him, and the fact of the matter is that this shows his level of effort for his campaign. If he’s just going to copy and paste someone else’s work, does he really care about the issues? Of course not. On top of that, if he doesn’t really care now, he care the same as president. if i’ve learned anything, it’s that passionate people do the job best, and this is no indication of that.

By @put them to the test on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

WHoever asked for a debate: HELLO there have been TONS of debates the next one is TOMORROW: and the DP one is Sunday: so go hear what they have to say for themselves!

By C '13 on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I don’t have a dog in this fight, but how is the use of the word “white” problematic? If Ernest was a white female, saying Shuster is the male version of Ernest wouldn’t matter, so saying he is the white version doesn’t either. It’s a fact. No racial undertones and nothing implied. Just a fact. The over-senesitivity indoctrinated into people today is mind-boggling.

By To Jake's Followers on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

There’s a difference between working together/addressing the same issues and copying things verbatim. The latter is plagiarism and is unacceptable at any Higher Education Institution. It doesn’t mean that he worked closely with them, just that he copied their platform. And, if they knew about it and hid it, then they’re guilty of trying to cover up for him.

And, please, stop trying to blame this on Dan unless you have concrete proof that goes beyond the fact that they’e running against each other. Shuster’s made his share of enemies on this campus- it could easily be any one of them. Saying it’s Dan shows that Shuster and his supporters automatically assume the worst in people and that their whole mindset is conniving.

By Apathetic Senior on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Guys, can we all just chill the f out.. because let’s be real here, it’s not like student government is actually taken seriously by anyone other than those who are in student government.

By Jon Monfred on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Elections are terrible. They make Penn kids hate the UA the same way elections make Americans hate Congress. Yes, I just drew a parallel between UA and Congress. Yes, many in student government have an elevated opinion of themselves. Who else would pursue power (in our case, sometimes imagined power) by subjecting themselves to something as miserable as an election?

To everyone who is not yet completely repulsed by the tone of this campaign–much of the negativity augmented by IvyGate (FOX News, if you will)–please do the student body a favor and learn up on the candidates. Talk to the people they have worked with in the past and figure out who will actually be able to build the relationships with students and administrators across campus to get shit done next year.

From PennCycle to Alcohol Policy Review (in the final stages, we promise) to working with VPUL to secure more funding for CAPS next year, we sometimes actually do stuff that matters.

So if this election could shift away from hurling shit at the UA and pissing off everyone on campus, that’d be fantastic. Run on your accomplishments if you have any.

By @Jon Monfred on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

“If this election could shift away from hurling shit at the UA and pissing everyone off on campus, that’d be fantastic.”

The election isn’t about hurling shit at the UA. There have been legitimate concerns raised about plagiarism, about hazing, and about the many other instances in which Jake Shuster has been embroiled in controversy and scandal. Ignoring them and saying let’s only discuss the good is doing a disservice to every voter. We are electing a candidate for UA President- not just the good parts. Any voter should be able to talk about all sides of a candidate- personally, I care more about seeing the UA step away from scandal more than the insignificant contributions that UA candidates seem to think makes them the best thing since sliced bread.

By the way, who is “everyone” on campus that is pissed off? I think, right now, that estimate consists of Shuster, his friends, and his fraternity brothers. People might think it’s a little pathetic on Shuster’s part, but nobody (who isn’t on the UA) gives enough of a shit about the UA to get really pissed off.

By I (K)new on March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I will not vote in any of these student elections after freshman year when Schuster KNOCKED ON MY DOOR in the quad. I was on the phone with my mother at the time and he had the nerve to knock on my door with his laptop.

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