By Ashley Cochrane
The former director of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) vowed to enrol in an ethics course at Ryerson University after details of his plagiarism scandal came to light.
But his plan to compensate for his academic dishonesty is not possible.
Chris Spence submitted a plagiarized opinion piece to the Toronto Star on Jan. 5 that led to his resignation and a follow-up investigation of his past work.
The National Post uncovered numerous pieces written by Spence that failed to properly cite sources and credited parts of other’s work as his own.
In an official statement, Spence wrote, “I intend to enrol myself in the ethics and law in journalism course offered by Ryerson University.
A component of that course is identification, and avoidance, of plagiarism.
I will enrol in that course at the earliest opportunity.” Chair of the journalism program, Ivor Shapiro, questions the details of Spence’s plan to join the course.
“In order for Spence to enrol in the ethics and law in journalism course he must be registered as a Ryerson journalism student,” says Shapiro.
Shapiro says Spence would have to enrol through the Chang School, instead, which doesn’t offer an ethics course to the public.
Lisa Taylor, instructor of ethics and law in journalism at Ryerson, says even if the course was available to Spence, it would not be fitting for him to enrol.
“I’m completely blown away that this is being presented as a journalism issue,” says Taylor. “Chris Spence is not a journalist and this is not an ethical dilemma.” Taylor differentiated between ethical issues and Spence’s predicament.
“An ethical issue is when you have two competing rights. Do you help save a kid’s life? Or do you continue to film to tell the world about this problem? Plagiarism is not a question of being right, it is just wrong.” According to Shapiro, if Spence were to be enrolled in the course it would not help his plagiarism dilemma.
“The course does not focus too much on plagiarism because it is not a complicated issue,” says Shapiro.
“I think journalism students know that when they come out of high school. I think my high school-attending son knows that.” The University of Toronto is now reviewing Spence’s doctoral dissertation for academic dishonesty, the
Toronto Star reported. It could lead to the suspension of his doctorate.