Essay ghostwriters turning in desperate students who refuse to pay

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Students around the country, and even at Langara, are hiring ghostwriters to write essays for them. Photo: Melanie Green

Reported by Melanie Green

Langara students who pay someone else to write essays on their behalf run the risk of being reported to the college for cheating – by the very person they hired.

John Smith, who asked not to be identified by his real name because he recognizes the moral hazard, is the head of a service in which students can pay for academic essays to be written. These services, known as ‘paper mills,’ are a multi-million-dollar industry across North America. Smith said one of the biggest issues for students using his service is that they sometimes get reported to their schools if they refuse to pay.

Smith said that many Langara students come to him for his service.

Maggie Ross, chair of the judicial committee at Langara, said ghostwriters report students frequently, but that doesn’t seem to deter students from cheating.

“Punishing people doesn’t change the culture,” Ross said, adding that the main reason students cheat is that they’re desperate.

“Most students are trying to cheat to get ahead, they’re not cheating because they’re completely lacking in integrity or they’re evil people.”

Smith, a PhD philosophy graduate who began writing cheat papers in 2009 when the economy crashed and his skill sets were not employable. Now, he has 10 writers on staff.

“The service has become increasingly popular,” said Smith. “The system of education standards are lower, more students are being accepted into university, and above all the system is depriving the professors to hold students to an academic standard. That is one of the driving forces for the demand we have now.”

Some students cheat because they can’t afford to fail

Pritesh Heer, an international business student at Langara, said he struggled with the temptation to cheat, and cheated once before.

“The course fees are so high, and I was in no position to pay for it again,” he said about his tuition. “Everyone is doing it, they’ve been cheating and never been caught and pass with flying colours. Why can’t I?”

Check out our related story on cheating here.

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