Home > Graywulf > To Be or Not To Be
Summary: This is a scene post TSbBS. Having worked in a university in a position dealing with academic dishonesty this is my take on what could have happened. The specific document used as a basis for this story is located http://www.yorku.ca/faculty/grads/program/0_genral/regs.htm and deals specifically with how Graduate Studies would deal with academic dishonesty (as set out by the University Senate).
Notes: Many thanks to Shallan and Dolimir who betaed this snippet. Dedicated to the good friends at Cat's Eye View of Cascade!
Disclaimer: Alas and alack, those two fine gentlemen of Cascade do not belong to me, but to Pet Fly and Paramount. I'm only borrowing them to keep my muse happy. (The cat definitely isn't happy he's being ignored.)
Blair stared long and hard at the name on the door.
“L. V. Stevenson
He had known something like this was bound to happen after the thesis fiasco. His heart had been in his mouth since he received the couriered letter advising him of this meeting. Three days he’d waited, grateful that Jim hadn’t been home when he’d received it. Gladder still he had a chance to compose himself before Jim came home. It was almost over. All over.
He opened the door. A pretty brunette sat at a desk outside the door leading to the Vice President’s office. This was it. There was no going back.
“May I help you?” she asked.
“Blair Sandburg, I have an appointment to see Vice President Stevenson,” he responded nervously.
“Oh yes. Please have a seat.” She motioned to a couch opposite her desk. “He’ll be right with you,” she continued with a bright smile.
“Thanks,” Blair replied. He only wished that he could return her smile as he slowly sank down into the couch. His eyes flitted around the room, not resting on any one object, unable to take anything more in.
The phone on the secretary’s desk rang and she looked up as she answered. After a brief conversation she said, “Mr. Stevenson will see you now, Mr. Sandburg. You may go right in.”
Blair rose and before he realized it, found himself standing before the door. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath as he turned the doorknob and entered.
// I may as well get this over with. //
“Please come in and sit down, Mr. Sandburg.”
Blair regarded the Vice President for a moment before he stepped forward. His dark hair was streaked with gray and his face betrayed no hint of what was to come. Blair settled in a chair in front of the desk.
“Mr. Sandburg, I’m sure you have some idea of why you are here.”
“Vice President Stevenson, please, I want to apologize for….” Blair started.
“Let me get straight to the point. Chancellor Edwards overstepped her authority in the matter of your thesis. She *has* been the Acting Dean and as such should have known the proper procedure. However, she did not follow the required procedures, which is why you are here now. You are aware of the proper procedure, are you not?”
Blair thought for a moment and looked up in realization. “Yes. It should have gone through the Department and then to and a hearing after the investigation.”
// Now why hadn’t that occurred to me before? I guess I was just waiting for the notice of the hearing, not even realizing the Chancellor didn’t have the authority to make the decisions she made. //
“Had it gone the proper route, you would have been interviewed by your sponsor and a colleague. If they had found this to be a case of academic dishonesty, an investigation would have been launched. And then a hearing would have been convened.”
“But that didn’t happen,” Blair replied. “So, what happens now?”
“That was our problem. Trying to decide how to deal with this. As it stands, since you have not been charged formally with academic dishonesty, we could reinstate you. However, you complicated matters with your press conference stating you were a fraud. And as it stands, it would not be in your best interests or the university’s to pursue this matter at this time. What I need to hear from you now is the truth.”
“I stand by what I stated at the press conference,” Blair stated quietly, but confidently. “I have nothing more to add.”
“I admire your desire to protect your friends in this matter, Mr. Sandburg. Care to try again?” asked Stevenson.
Blair looked at the Stevenson, wondering what he was trying to do. His mind raced to come up with some sort of subterfuge.
“Mr. Sandburg, I have it on very good authority that the officers of the Major Crime department actually approached the commissioner to have you made an officer in their department. The argument given by those members must have been convincing, because the Commissioner agreed to their request. I know you have the backing of the Commissioner’s Office to enter the Police Academy, and after that, become a detective upon graduation. That is no small feat. I doubt seriously if you were truly guilty of the fraud you claim to have committed, that any of this would have happened.”
Blair sat in stunned silence. // Who had given this information? Did Jim have something to do with this? //
“Considering the confusion which surrounded you and Detective Ellison, the press conference was an understandable ploy to divert attention, though it was a hasty and ill thought out move. I understand that the captain and another detective were shot prior to your press conference and your friend Detective Ellison was shot not long afterwards. I think we can chalk the press conference up to an emotional response. Hopefully your next interview on this matter will be less so.”
Blair closed his eyes to calm his rising panic.
// If the Vice President knew about this, who else knew? Maybe the press conference didn’t have the desired effect. Maybe he’d really blown it -- bigtime. Jim was not going to like this. //
“Further, I’ve also heard there is evidence that would lead me to believe that the excerpts of your thesis which were published without your approval or knowledge. On that point the University has already begun the process of a civil suit against the publisher on your behalf.”
“I don’t know what to say. I’m not sure where you’re getting your information but…” Blair started getting more concerned about what he was hearing. // Who was Stevenson’s source? What else was he going to do with this information? //
“That doesn’t matter at this time. Now, considering you have one option open to you at this time, I’d like to offer another. Since I’m not willing to put either the university or you through any more scrutiny at this time, I’d like to suggest you take the summer to consider your options.” Stevenson paused and looked directly into Blair’s eyes, “However, should you wish to return, then contact my office and we will go over the necessary steps for your return. Should you decide the academy is what you want, let me know by mid-August so that I may close the whole situation here. Either way, there will be paperwork to be done, with regards to the grants and any other matters arising out of your decision.”
“If I chose to return, would it require a hearing?” Blair asked, not wanting to hold any false hopes.
“It might, if your sponsor and one of his colleagues feel that it is a case of academic dishonesty. As I said before, please take the summer to decide what you choose to do. I’ll be expecting your decision in August.”
“Thank you. You’ve given me a lot to think about.”
Stevenson rose and proffered his hand. “I wish you the best of luck in whatever choice you make. I just wanted to give you the option to make the choice you want rather than feeling forced into something you may not want. And if you do return, you won’t have to worry about Chancellor Edwards,” he finished with a sly smile as they shook hands. Blair returned the smile and turned to leave.
Stevenson watched as the young man strode out the door with a little more confidence in his stride. He owed his brother-in-law, the Commissioner, something for this information. His brother-in-law would have Sandburg in his own time. For now, Stevenson hoped he would understand. He wanted to give the kid a break. People like him and his detective friend, if the thesis were to be believed, were rare.
Dealing with Chancellor Edwards had been a pleasure. He’d never particularly liked the woman. Considering the angry letters and calls from students and their parents, she had set a dangerous precedent, which had to be corrected, and he had been more than happy to make the correction.
Blair walked through the campus unable to keep the smile from his face.
// Everything I thought I’d ever wanted was all within my grasp, hopefully without a spotlight this time. The question is, do I give up the thesis and my doctorate or decide to not go to the academy?
Would I be able to keep the whole thesis under wraps? Would I be able to guarantee Jim’s anonymity? Maybe they’d give me the opportunity to do another that wouldn’t be based on Jim. But that would take more time. Would I really want to even try to go through that again?
Then again, would I be happy as a detective, carrying a gun and shield? Could I ever see myself comfortable enough to pull a gun and fire it, knowing I could be taking a life?
Time enough for this kind of thinking. No need to try to come to a decision right now. I’ve got a couple of months to think about it.// Blair allowed himself a chuckle. //Man, I’m feeling really good right now. Maybe I’ll treat Jim to a Wonder Burger! //
“I’ll have a double Wonder Burger with the works, super fries and a large cola, please. What about you Sandburg?” asked Jim as turned to his friend.
“Just a regular burger, lettuce, tomato, pickles and peppers,” with a sly look to his friend, added, “onion rings and a medium cola, thanks!”
“So,” started Jim as he watched his friend rock from heel to toe, “What made you want to have lunch at Wonder Burger?” It was good to see Sandburg happy. It seemed like it had been far too long since that spark of life had shown itself. He’d tried to cover, but the whole fiasco over the thesis had taken something out of him.
“Hey, can’t a guy treat a friend to lunch once in a while?” Blair countered with a shrug, wondering what he should tell Jim about the meeting with Stevenson and the offer which had been made. Just what did Stevenson know or suspect? How many people would figure out what had happened if he went to the academy anyway? There were going to be hard questions asked either way.
Their order arrived and as Jim reached for his wallet Blair stopped him. “Hey, I said this was my treat, remember?”
Jim shook his head and took the trays with their orders to get the napkins and ketchup as Blair paid the cashier.
“How about over there,” Jim suggested, as he nodded to toward the corner away from the rest of the people in the restaurant. Blair agreed and they headed off to the table. Blair and Jim sat in companionable silence as they began to munch on their burgers.
“I, uh, heard some interesting news from Rainier this morning. Chancellor Edwards has been fired,” Blair said, trying to sound as off-handed as possible.
“You heard this from one of your friends at Rainier?”
“Not a friend, but someone I know there. Apparently, the administration didn’t like the way she dealt with my thesis and press conference. The whole thing has caused them a lot of problems because it wasn’t handled properly,” he continued.
“So, what does this mean for you? Not more problems? If you need a lawyer, I’ll help out…” offered Jim, concerned where this may be leading.
“From what I understand, no problems. At least not right now. They still haven’t decided how they’re going to deal with the whole mess. I’ll find out eventually,” Blair admitted trying to sound non-committal.
Jim watched his friend, realizing there was something Blair wasn't telling him, but he knew that Blair would tell him when the time was right.
"Hey Chief? Everything okay?" Jim asked, more than a little concerned at his friend's growing preoccupation with whatever it was that was bothering him.
"Oh, yeah. Hi. I guess I was just lost in thought and didn't hear you come in," answered Blair slightly startled. He'd been caught thinking about the meeting with Stevenson; weighing the options he had before him; and trying to figure out the trouble Stevenson's information or assumptions could mean for Jim and himself. If Stevenson figured it out, whom else could learn the truth or suspect it? How much should he tell Jim? When should he tell him? Oh hell, what should he tell him, period? He couldn't wait much longer to broach the subject. Jim would be furious if he didn't say *something* soon. And he didn't want a repeat of the last time.
"It's my turn for dinner tonight. What do you think? Order in Chinese or go out for Mexican?" offered Jim.
"Hmm, that's a tough choice, Lotus Garden or Tomasita's. Both are good," Blair replied noncommittally.
"Why do I get the feeling you need to get out of here for a bit of fresh air?" Taking Blair's jacket off the rack, he tossed it to him. "C'mon. Tomasita's it is." He gathered his keys from the basket and waited for Blair to join him.
A short time later found them sitting at a table in a small Mexican restaurant where the friendly staff made sure they had homemade salsa and fresh corn chips to go along with their cold beers while they waited for their dinners.
"I wish you could have seen it! H was just howling with laughter. Poor Rafe. Mud from head to toe both, him and the suspect." Jim chuckled as he recounted an arrest from earlier that day.
"That sounds like it was quite a sight. I wish I could have been there," Blair replied with a grin.
"It's good to see that grin again. After we went to lunch the other day, it seemed to have disappeared. Is it trouble from the university or maybe you're worried about going to the academy? I hope, whatever it is, you’ll talk to me about it when you're ready."
"I think I'm just about there," Blair replied. He paused for a moment and then looked at Jim, his face full of concern. "Jim, have you thought about what impact the publicity you received over the leaked thesis might have -- not just in the short run, but in the long run? There are those who might not buy into my denial from the press conference and others who may suspect or possibly even know that it was true."
"Where is this coming from Sandburg? Has someone said something to you to spook you?" Jim watched him. “We've already talked about the fact there might be those who suspect its true, but only the ones we've told, or people who know us well, will know the truth."
"That's what we've thought. But I spoke to someone at the university the other day -- someone I didn't know and from what they had to say, they either know or suspect the truth," Blair admitted.
"Is this the same person that told you that Chancellor Edwards had been fired?" Blair nodded. "Who was it? Do you think they really know? Or were they just trying to push your buttons? If they do know, would they use that information against us?"
"I don't think so. It was the Vice President Stevenson. He wanted to talk to me about the mess created by Edwards and myself." At Jim's look of alarm, Blair clarified, "My words, not his. The press conference really added complications to a bad situation. Chancellor Edwards over-reacted and between the two of us we've made quite a mess. If there'd been more time, I might have been able to come up with a better way to deal with it, but with Megan and Simon...."
"Stop right there. We each have a share of the guilt for what happened after the thesis's release without going back for second helpings. You did what you thought was best at the time. My own reaction didn't help the matter. If anything, it was responsible for you calling that press conference."
"I've done some thinking since I met with Stevenson. What are people going to believe when they find out I'm entering the academy for training? Not only the academy, but the fact I've also got the offer of a detective's shield and a job in Major Crime once I complete the required courses at the academy? The logical conclusion is that I lied in the press conference. Why else would the people of the department and the Commissioner back me?"
Jim could see the maelstrom in his friend's eyes. No wonder Sandburg had been so quiet and lost in thought the last few days. He sighed and answered, "We'll deal with it as it comes. Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe all hell will break loose. We won't know until something happens."
The waiter arrived with their meals and after he left Jim asked, "So, what else did Stevenson say?"
Blair was thankful Jim had the worst timing ever in asking that question as he slowly worked on his relleños. Blair took a swig of his beer as he watched Jim tuck into his pollo con mole. "He wants to wait a bit before addressing the issue. Let the attention die down. There's a possibility I may have to go through the formal process, and that could mean an investigation and hearing. If they feel I have committed a fraud, it could go as far as me being charged and tried criminally."
"The offer I made the other day still stands. If you need a lawyer, say something. I'll do what I can to help you and I do mean that." Jim knew in his heart he wasn't going to let it get that far. The kid had done more than enough trying to protect him. Now it was his turn.
“Okay, everyone knows what their assignment is for the stakeout. Let’s get to it,” Simon Banks instructed. As everyone filed out of his office, he turned to Jim Ellison, a friend as well as one of his best detectives. “Jim, hold up a minute. I need to talk to you.”
Ellison stopped and turned back toward the conference table where Simon was perched.
“What’s up, Sir?” asked Ellison as he began to wonder what he’d done now.
“Jim, what’s eating you? You’ve been preoccupied for the last couple of days. Is something wrong?”
“Yeah, Simon. There is something wrong. Sandburg may be in serious trouble.”
“What kind of trouble?”
“Sandbur told me he had been out at Rainier several days ago. He met with one of the vice-presidents and became concerned when he found out that the vice-president seemed to know all about the deal we made with the commissioner. He also indicated that the university might have him investigated, and if they feel the have enough evidence, the whole thing could go as far as criminal charges.”
Simon shook his head in disbelief. “Any word on when the university might start these proceedings? Does this vice-president pose any kind of threat?”
“Sandburg says Stevenson is no threat. Though I’d love to know how he found out about the deal with the commissioner. Sandburg did raise a concern that if someone can figure out that we went to the commissioner, what’s to stop someone else from coming to a similar conclusion? If he goes through the academy and becomes a detective here, it may send the signal that his press conference was a ruse. But there’s no word on when and if the university will decide how to deal with his thesis.”
“So what are we going to do?” asked Simon.
“We? I’m not sure there’s much we can do. I’ve offered to help him if he needs a lawyer. But I’m not sure what more I can do,” replied Jim.
“Jim, go home, get some rest so that you can at least be alert tonight on the stakeout. Leave this with me, and I’ll see what I can come up with.”
“Geoffrey? This is Lewis. We need to talk.”
“Lewis? What’s this about? Is Nora okay? The kids?”
“They’re okay Geoff, but we need to talk, soon. It’s about that matter we discussed the other day.”
“Lewis, what have you done? If you’ve screwed this up, so help me….”
“Geoff. Stop panicking. Everything is all right for the time being,” reassured the Vice President. “However, we do need to make some plans. This situation won't go away if we ignore it and we will have to deal with it sooner or later.
“All right,” the Commissioner replied with a sigh, “Where do you want to meet and when?”
“How about noon tomorrow, my office? I’ll have lunch brought in which will ensure a measure of privacy we won’t get anywhere else.
“Okay, I'll be there. And Lewis? Make sure there’s none of that tofu crap in my lunch. Vonnie’s been on a health food kick because my last cholesterol test came back high and I haven’t seen a decent meal since. She’s even got my secretary and assistant watching me like a hawk.”
“Sure Geoff,” he replied with a chuckle. “What do you want, a roast beef dinner? You know Vonnie will have my hide if she finds out.”
“I’ll leave that up to you. You know pretty much what I like. Hell, we go back far enough. You ought to if you don’t.”
“I’ll see you at noon then. Just let me know if you think you might be running late.”
“Will do. See you then.”
“Mr. Stevenson. Mr. De Blieck to see you.”
“Send him in, Jen. Why don’t you forward the lines and go to lunch as we discussed earlier? We’ll be fine.”
“Okay, I’ll see you at two then. Just a reminder, you have a meeting with a reporter from the student newspaper at 2:30.” She hesitated for a moment, then continued, “Do you want me to reschedule?”
“That might be a good idea, maybe tomorrow afternoon. I realize they want to get this interview for the next edition and I don’t want to cause them a delay. Thanks for reminding me. Enjoy your lunch.”
Hanging up the receiver, she turned to the visitor, “Please, go right in. Mr. Stevenson is waiting for you.”
“Lewis,” the Commissioner greeted his brother-in-law as he entered the office, closing the door behind him.
“Geoff, good to see you again,” he welcomed as he stepped away from the food laden coffee table. “You’re just in time. I’ve given my secretary some extra time for lunch so we won’t be disturbed.”
“Why does that sound ominous? How bad is it? Just whom have you talked to?” Geoff demanded.
“It’s not what you think. Come on. Make yourself comfortable. I’ve got some good news, some interesting news and then there’s the game plan we have to come up with.”
“Hmmmm. I think I’ll start at interesting and go to good afterwards,” he responded as he followed Lewis’ instructions.
Lewis smiled. “Okay. I spoke to Sandburg the other day.”
“You did WHAT!” cried Geoff. Lewis watched his brother-in-law’s face turn about five shades of red and appeared to be on his way to an interesting shade of purple.
“Geoff, it just wasn’t fair to let him believe he’d lost everything here at Rainier. I told him we’d let that bitch Edwards go for failing to handle this in an appropriate manner and offered him the chance to return to the university. It only seemed the right thing to do.”
“You just couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you, Lewis? He’s been offered a job with the PD, in Major Crimes as a detective after completing a series of required courses at the academy. They want him there and you know enough now to know he’s needed there. Why are you trying to screw things up?” he demanded with a glare.
“I’m not ‘screwing things up’ as you say, but trying to be fair and offer him all the options available to him. He’s never been found guilty of academic dishonesty, so pursuing his thesis is still open. Geoff, what if it isn’t what he wants to be a detective? What happens if he doesn’t want to go to the academy? What’s wrong in offering him an alternative? It doesn’t mean he’s going to accept it. And even if he does, you can yet still have him as part of that team you want so badly,” reasoned Lewis.
“Point taken. I still don’t like it, but you’re right,” Geoff replied grudgingly.
“In addition, the university is also preparing to launch a civil suit against the publisher,” Lewis continued. “The paperwork has been done, but hasn’t been filed yet. We’ve sent a copy to the publisher for their comment, hoping to avoid an actual court battle, but we’re ready to go ahead on Mr. Sandburg’s behalf and the university’s as well, if necessary.” Lewis smiled as he watched Geoff close his eyes and shake his head. He knew only too well that Geoff figured they had lost complete control of the situation.
“Sandburg can’t afford a court battle over this. Not even taking money into consideration, his reputation alone can’t handle that kind of scrutiny after that press conference,” Geoff pointed out.
“Actually, that’s where the good news comes in.” Lewis reached over to a folder on his desk from where he had been standing. Joining Geoff on the couch, he handed the folder to his brother-in-law.
Geoffrey read in silence, finally looking up at Lewis in disbelief. “This could work. Now I understand why you wanted a strategy planning session.
“Actually, that came in this morning. I’ve got our lawyers going over it to make sure it will do the job - to give us what we need to work with. It would be nice to see something good happen for Mr. Sandburg. He’s well liked and respected at Rainier and I don’t like to think of what could have been the alternative.” Smiling at his brother-in-law’s scowl, he added, “Excluding the alternative your office has given him, Geoff.”
“Okay, we have at least two options we can consider viable. Sandburg either joins Major Crime after the academy or he returns to Rainier.”
“Actually, make that three, Geoff. Just playing devil’s advocate here, there is also the possibility he could go through training and decide against becoming a detective and return to the university,” Lewis reminded him. “Let’s look at all possibilities, not just the ones we want. There is a fourth in which he could just walk away from everything, but I think that would be the most unlikely.”
“Okay, three options then. I have to agree that Sandburg doesn’t seem to be the kind of person to just walk away from everything so I don’t believe either of us sees option four as viable. My office has looked after option one. What do you have planned for option two/three?”
“I believe I can work it to our favour. It will mean either appointing some I trust as the "complaint officer or bring the Provost into our confidence. I’ve been pouring over the university Senate’s policy on academic honesty and there is a provision that once a complaint has been placed it can either be dealt with at a local level, such as the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, or it can be turned over to the Provost. I think I’ll have to talk to several different sources to actually decide which way would be best to steer this due to the publicity over the press conference Mr. Sandburg called. If at all possible, I’d prefer it being done at a local level. Either way – there is a provision for special circumstances, regardless of the seriousness of the complaint, for it to be simply deemed not appropriate to proceed further. And that’s pretty much how I see it going. Sandburg can be reinstated and continue his work, though I might suggest he change the focus of his thesis, if at all possible.”
“And that’s where this comes in?” asked Geoff, holding up the folder.
“Yes, I think that the apology from the publisher, the fact they want to settle out of court and are willing to take the responsibility for the whole mess makes it that much sweeter. The tape you have with Mr. Sandburg and Mr. Graham discussing the thesis and Mr. Sandburg’s refusal to publish was in our favour. Mr. Graham is being made the scapegoat in this because of his ill made decision. From appearances, they are willing to suggest that the excerpts released were skewed to present Detective Ellison as a sentinel, when in fact he was one of hundreds of subject with some measure of heightened senses. That’s what our legal advisors are looking over now – and they may, in fact, be making additional suggestions to ensure that is the way it will come across.”
“Hopefully it will clear the way for Sandburg to regain his reputation and make things a little easier all around,” acknowledged Geoff.
“I hope so too. Now all we can do is sit and wait for Mr. Sandburg’s decision. It’s June now and I’ve given him until mid-August to make his decision. I’ll get people lined up on my side in case he decides to return to Rainier so we can hopefully deal with it quickly and quietly. Thanks Geoff, for making this possible.”
“Hell, Sandburg will be thanking you, when he sees what the publisher has offered as a settlement. What were you demanding?”
“What is a career worth? A reputation? We went high, knowing the courts would lower it. Had we not had the taped evidence, we wouldn’t have stood a chance and he could have been charged with premature dissemination of information or abuse of confidentiality. It could have lead to criminal charges. Thankfully, the police in their infinite wisdom tape all lines in and out of the police buildings.”
“So, when does Sandburg find out he’s not penniless and without a reputation?”
“As soon as legal finishes with the publishers and we’ve got everything to our satisfaction. Sandburg will be required to sign the agreement as well, so he will be informed once we’re close to settlement. I’m sure it will be a pleasant surprise.
(Not the end, but a beginning
To be continued in Oh Joy, Oh Bliss)
Failed to execute CGI : Win32 Error Code = 2
Home > Graywulf > To Be or Not To Be