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 hed waited, grateful that Jim hadnt been home when hed
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 Presidents
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.
Please have a seat. She motioned to a couch opposite her desk. Hell
be right with you, she continued with a bright smile.
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 secretarys
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
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.//
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, Im sure you have
some idea of why you are here.
Vice President Stevenson,
please, I want to apologize for
. Blair started.
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 hadnt
that occurred to me before? I guess I was just waiting for the notice of
the hearing, not even realizing the Chancellor didnt 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 didnt
happen, Blair replied. So, what happens now?
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 universitys 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.
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 Commissioners
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.
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 didnt have the desired effect.
Maybe hed really blown it -- bigtime. Jim was not going to like this.//
Ive 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 dont know what to say.
Im not sure where youre getting your information but
started getting more concerned about what he was hearing. //Who was Stevensons
source? What else was he going to do with this information?//
doesnt matter at this time. Now, considering you have one option open
to you at this time, Id like to offer another. Since Im not
willing to put either the university or you through any more scrutiny at this
time, Id like to suggest you take the summer to consider your options.
Stevenson paused and looked directly into Blairs 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.
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. Ill be expecting your decision in August.
you. Youve 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 wont 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. Hed 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
* * * * *
Blair walked through the
campus unable to keep the smile from his face. //Everything I thought
Id 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 Jims anonymity? Maybe theyd
give me the opportunity to do another that wouldnt be based on Jim.
But that would take more time. Would I really want to even try to go through
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.
Ive got a couple of months to think about it.// Blair allowed himself
a chuckle. //Man, Im feeling really good right now. Maybe Ill
treat Jim to a Wonder Burger!//
* * * * *
Ill 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!
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.
Hed tried to cover, but the whole fiasco over the thesis had taken something
out of him.
Hey, cant 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?
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.
heard this from one of your friends at Rainier?
friend, but someone I know there. Apparently, the administration didnt like
the way she dealt with my thesis and press conference. The whole thing has caused
them a lot of problems because it wasnt handled properly, he continued.
what does this mean for you? Not more problems? If you need a lawyer, Ill
offered Jim, concerned where this may be leading.
what I understand, no problems. At least not right now. They still
havent decided how theyre going to deal with the whole mess.
Ill find out eventually, Blair admitted trying to sound non-committal.
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.
* * * *
Chief? Everything okay?" Jim asked, more than a little concerned at his friend's
growing preoccupation with whatever it was that was bothering him.
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
"It's my turn for dinner tonight. What do you think?
Order in Chinese or go out for Mexican?" offered Jim.
that's a tough choice, Lotus Garden or Tomasita's. Both are good," Blair
"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.
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.
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, youll 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."
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
"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...."
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?"
was thankful Jim had the worst timing ever in asking that question as he slowly
worked on his relleņos. 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
"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. Lets 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
Whats up, Sir? asked Ellison as he began
to wonder what hed done now.
Jim, whats eating you?
Youve been preoccupied for the last couple of days. Is something wrong?
Yeah, Simon. There is something wrong. Sandburg may be in serious
What kind of trouble?
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?
says Stevenson is no threat. Though Id 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, whats 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 theres no word on when and if the university will decide how
to deal with his thesis.
So what are we going to do?
We? Im not sure theres much we can
do. Ive offered to help him if he needs a lawyer. But Im
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 Ill see what I can come up with.
* * * *
Geoffrey? This is Lewis. We need to talk.
Whats this about? Is Nora okay? The kids?
okay Geoff, but we need to talk, soon. Its about that matter we discussed
the other day.
Lewis, what have you done? If youve
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.
right, the Commissioner replied with a sigh, Where do you want to
meet and when?
How about noon tomorrow, my office?
Ill have lunch brought in which will ensure a measure of privacy we wont
get anywhere else.
Okay, I'll be there. And Lewis? Make
sure theres none of that tofu crap in my lunch. Vonnies been
on a health food kick because my last cholesterol test came back high and I havent
seen a decent meal since. Shes 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.
Ill leave that up
to you. You know pretty much what I like. Hell, we go back far enough. You
ought to if you dont.
Ill see you at noon
then. Just let me know if you think you might be running late.
do. See you then.
* * * * *
Mr. De Blieck to see you.
Send him in, Jen. Why dont
you forward the lines and go to lunch as we discussed earlier? Well
Okay, Ill 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?
might be a good idea, maybe tomorrow afternoon. I realize they want to get
this interview for the next edition and I dont 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
Lewis, the Commissioner greeted his brother-in-law
as he entered the office, closing the door behind him.
good to see you again, he welcomed as he stepped away from the food laden
coffee table. Youre just in time. Ive given my secretary
some extra time for lunch so we wont be disturbed.
does that sound ominous? How bad is it? Just whom have you talked to? Geoff
Its not what you think. Come on.
Make yourself comfortable. Ive got some good news, some interesting news
and then theres the game plan we have to come up with.
I think Ill 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-laws face turn about five
shades of red and appeared to be on his way to an interesting shade of purple.
it just wasnt fair to let him believe hed lost everything here at
Rainier. I told him wed 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 couldnt
leave well enough alone, could you, Lewis? Hes 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
hes needed there. Why are you trying to screw things up? he
demanded with a glare.
Im not screwing things up
as you say, but trying to be fair and offer him all the options available to him.
Hes never been found guilty of academic dishonesty, so pursuing his thesis
is still open. Geoff, what if it isnt what he wants to be a detective?
What happens if he doesnt want to go to the academy? Whats wrong
in offering him an alternative? It doesnt mean hes 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.
I still dont like it, but youre right, Geoff replied grudgingly.
addition, the university is also preparing to launch a civil suit against the
publisher, Lewis continued. The paperwork has been done, but hasnt
been filed yet. Weve sent a copy to the publisher for their comment,
hoping to avoid an actual court battle, but were ready to go ahead on Mr.
Sandburgs behalf and the universitys 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.
cant afford a court battle over this. Not even taking money into consideration,
his reputation alone cant handle that kind of scrutiny after that press
conference, Geoff pointed out.
Actually, thats 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.
Ive 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. Hes well liked and respected at Rainier and I dont
like to think of what could have been the alternative. Smiling at his brother-in-laws
scowl, he added, Excluding the alternative your office has given him, Geoff.
we have at least two options we can consider viable. Sandburg either joins Major
Crime after the academy or he returns to Rainier.
make that three, Geoff. Just playing devils 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. Lets
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.
three options then. I have to agree that Sandburg doesnt seem to be
the kind of person to just walk away from everything so I dont 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. Ive
been pouring over the university Senates 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 Ill 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, Id
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 thats 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.
thats where this comes in? asked Geoff, holding up the folder.
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. Sandburgs 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. Thats 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.
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. Sandburgs decision.
Its June now and Ive given him until mid-August to make his decision.
Ill 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
Hell, Sandburg will be thanking you, when
he sees what the publisher has offered as a settlement. What were you demanding?
is a career worth? A reputation? We went high, knowing the courts would
lower it. Had we not had the taped evidence, we wouldnt 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
So, when does Sandburg find out hes
not penniless and without a reputation?
As soon as legal
finishes with the publishers and weve got everything to our satisfaction.
Sandburg will be required to sign the agreement as well, so he will be informed
once were close to settlement. Im sure it will be a pleasant
(Not the end, but a beginning
continued in Oh Joy, Oh Bliss)