Students must write their essays and assignments in their own words. Whenever students take an idea or a passage from another author, they must acknowledge their debt both by using quotation marks where appropriate and by proper referencing such as footnotes or citations. Plagiarism is a major academic offence.This addendum came with every syllabus I received during my undergraduate degree. Irony prevents me from telling you which university I plagiarized this work from.
Teaching students what should and should not be cited, and why citing is important is admirable. But, by teaching that citation is a system of acknowledging intellectual debts, students may never learn why we really cite others. Instead, they will cite to avoid punishment, and in some cases will do so when it is not necessary. Plagiarism is bad for several reasons; however, failing to acknowledge an intellectual "debt" to someone else is not one of them.
You are not indebted to someone whose ideas you borrow, rather, the strength of your argument depends upon what they wrote and what evidence they used to support their arguments. You do not cite them as a "thank you," rather you cite them so that a person reading your work has the means to check your sources. So that they can determine if what you say makes sense and is based on a sound foundation.
Hopefully, the person you cited also cited other authors. In this manner, footnotes and citations provide an unbreaking chain of logic / evidence, which goes back to an original source. For this, citations are extremely useful.
There are no victims of academic plagiarism. Plagiarism is the highest form of flattery. If someone sees your work as worth stealing, it must be good. Any undergrad who can write well enough to plagiarize without making it painfully obvious is probably smart enough for a BA anyway.
Transparency in education is important for creating a meaningful learning experience. Students aren't stupid, so maybe we shouldn't treat them like they are.
Plagiarism is not dishonourable; it's just counterproductive.