By Rebecca Tucker
Ryerson’s strict anti-plagiarism policies — which include the controversial Turnitin.com — also extend to on-campus advertising.
In January 2007, Essays.com paid EcoMedia Direct, a media company that supplies the City of Toronto with its three-tiered recycling bins, for advertising space on two of the bins located on Ryerson’s campus.
“When I looked at [the bin], there were signs advertising essays and all sorts of stuff,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy, who called the ads “crap.”
Essays.com, a so-called “paper mill,” is a site that provides links to resources for students looking for someone else to write their essays for them.
The website also provides a free bank of stock papers on every academic subject imaginable. “It was absolutely an issue of academic integrity,” said Diane Kenyon, executive director for public affairs, marketing and communications with university advancement.
“After much investigation and discussion with the owners, our university advancement [department] made arrangements to purchase the space,” said Diane Schulman, director for the office of the provost at Ryerson, who was unaware of the ads’ presence until she walked by them.
EcoMedia was undergoing a drastic management change when the Essays.com ads first appeared.
EcoMedia President Craig Marwood said the management change made it difficult to keep track of just who was buying advertising space, and where.
“The contract [with Essays.com] had already been booked before the current management took over,” said Marwood, whose son attends Ryerson.
“Once the school contacted us and we became aware of the situation, we refused to book any further ads with the company.”
The university contacted EcoMedia, and eventually negotiated the 12-month purchase of all 11 EcoMedia recycling bins on campus for an undisclosed sum.
This purchase ensures that Ryerson will have complete control over the content of each recycling bin on campus for the next year.
The advertising spaces on the sides of each bin on campus are currently emblazoned with Ryerson’s logo and trademark blue-and-gold banner.
“We don’t want advertising of essay-buying and those things that don’t help us be proud of the campus,” Levy said. “Part of being proud … is to control the image of the campus.”