Essay writing ads create a stir

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By Maureen Rice

The Ryerson Bookstore thought it was doing a good thing when it distributed 5,000 coupon books to students in September.

But those good intentions are being overshadowed because an advertisement for a custom essay writing service appears on page 50 of the bookstore’s Essential Savings Book.

The ad is in conflict with Ryerson’s Student Code of Conduct, which forbids plagiarism — using a source without acknowledgement.  If caught plagiarizing, students face a failing grade, suspension or withdrawal from Ryerson.

The Bookstore made the mistake over the summer when manager Kelly Abraham, who co-ordinated the coupon book’s advertising, failed to catch the ad before the book was sent to the printer.  It was distributed to about 5,000 students.

“I approved it,” said Abraham.  “I regretted that when I saw it.”

Linda Grayson, Ryerson’s v.p. administration, said she is “distressed” by the ad.

But she is confident students will know printing the ad was a mistake, and that using custom essay writing services is against the school’s academic policy.  “I think most students know that it’s totally inappropriate.”

Nancy, a second-year business student who didn’t want her last name used, thought it would be okay to use the essay service if it was in the book.  “I would think of it as something like the Writing Centre, where you could go and get help.”

But first-year civil engineering student Ashraf Fahmy said using the service was not “appropriate.”

Writing Center director Marie Dowler is against students turning to these services.  “Essay research and writing services rob students who do their work properly,” said Dowler.  “It’s plagiarism, it’s cheating.”

Custom Essay Services’ charges start at $22 a page for research, and $5 a page for editing.  Office manager, Bruce Moran said clients sign a waiver saying what they receive is for research purposes only.  So far, Moran said no Ryerson students have responded to the company’s ad.

“Essay research and writing services straddle that line between what’s legal on one hand and what’s responsible on another,” said Frank Cappadocia, Ryerson’s student programs facilitator.  “Doing research is of benefit to a student.  I don’t think the student is getting any benefit from this in the long run.”

Abraham assures that although the Bookstore’s mistake can’t be fixed this year, it won’t happen again.  “If we still continue with this [coupon book], I will screen every page.”

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