By KELIN DILLON
After a controversial undergraduate plagiarism scandal essentially knocked Mexican Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) Minister Yasmín Esquivel out of the running for the post of Supreme Court President, the minister’s purported act of plagiarism is finally facing repercussions from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) – but rather than penalizing Esquivel herself, UNAM has decided to pursue punishment against the university’s law school thesis director, Martha Rodríguez Ortiz, instead.
The plagiarism controversy originally accused Esquivel of copying the thesis of fellow UNAM student Edgar Ulises Báez while studying at the university in 1987, allegations which Esquivel has adamantly denied despite submitting her thesis after Báez had already turned his own thesis in for review.
Upon additional review of the situation, UNAM staff confirmed to have found similarities between Esquivel and Báez’s theses, as well as four additional theses submitted to the university around the same time period.
Now, UNAM’s Technical Council has ordered its Ethics Commission to open disciplinary proceedings against Rodríguez Ortiz for her purported role in the Esquivel plagiarism scandal.
“By unanimous decision, this collegiate body agreed to instruct and encourage the Ethics Commission, accompanied by five Technical Advisors, so that the disciplinary procedure regarding the performance of Professor Martha Rodríguez Ortiz as director of theses be analyzed, reviewed and resolved expeditiously,” stated the UNAM Technical Council’s ruling.
Though UNAM may have decided to punish Esquivel’s professor over the Supreme Court minister herself, Báez has announced his intentions to pursue legal action against Esquivel for her part in the scandal, claiming that Esquivel lied to the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office – which recently cleared Esquivel of all wrongdoing in the case – in an attempt to cover up her plagiarism.
“It is confirmed that the original authorship of the thesis work is mine,” said Báez on Jan. 9. “The other student recognized that she took my thesis project that I began to prepare since 1985 and that it was in the possession of the thesis director.”
As the university begins to implement a new policy to prevent plagiarism of its student body’s theses, UNAM’s faculty of law is expected to issue a statement on the scandal and Rodríguez Ortiz’s future career in academia in the days to come.