It would be bad news if a student in the class of Laurence Tribe or Alan Dershowitz or Ian Ayres or Edward Wegman or Matthew Whitaker or Karl Weick or Frank Fischer were to hand in an assignment that is obviously
plagiarized copied from another source without attribution. Would the prof have the chutzpah to fail the student, or would he just give the student an A out of fear that the student would raise a ruckus if anything were done about it?
But it would be really bad news if everyone in the class were to do this. For example, suppose the students were to do the work for real—that is, individually write their own, non-plagiarized papers and put them in a file somewhere—and then make alternative, plagiarized papers to hand in. Perhaps, just to make sure the prof or the overworked teaching assistant doesn’t miss it, the students would even cite the wikipedia entries they’re copying from. Then they’d sit back and wait and see what happens. It would be important, though, that the students write actual papers on their own, because otherwise they’d be missing out on the chance to learn the material, which after all is the real purpose of taking the course.
In any case, this would be a bad situation. It’s not clear how the prof would have the moral authority to fail a student for an offense that he, the professor, had committed without suffering any penalty. But I wouldn’t recommend the students try it. They might just get expelled anyway for the combined violations of plagiarism and embarrassing the university.
It’s like smoking crack in Toronto. It’s still illegal even if the boss does it.