The student in charge of drafting the code said it was oversight, but cheating experts say it illustrates a sloppiness among Internet-era students who don't know how to cite sources properly and think of their computers as cut-and-paste machines.
"That's the consequence of the Internet and the availability of things," said Daniel Wueste, director of the Rutland Institute for Ethics at Clemson University. "It doesn't feel like what would be in a book. You Google it and here it comes."
Akshay Thusu said he took over the project a month ago and inherited a draft from students who came before him. He said he discovered that a group of students attended a conference five years ago put on by Clemson's Center for Academic Integrity.
Materials from the conference, which are used by many universities, were probably the main source of UTSA's code, Thusu said. That's why parts of the UTSA draft match word-for-word the online version of Brigham Young University's code.
BYU credited the Center for Academic Integrity, but UTSA didn't. That will change, said Thusu, who plans to submit a draft with proper citation to the faculty senate.
"We don't want to have an honor code that is stolen," said Thusu, a native of India.
John Barrie co-founded a company that checks student papers for plagiarism. He said Turnitin.com screens about 125,000 student papers per day against Internet sources, library journals and a database of student term papers.
About 30 percent of papers that are "less than original," Barrie said. About half of the cheating hits come from the Internet and the other half from student papers. A fraction come from library sources, he said.
Barrie said the No. 1 source is Wikipedia.org, where any user can write and edit entries.
"You tell me, is that a scary trend?" Barrie said.