Let me throw down a hypothetical situation for you:
You’re a university student and you have an essay due. You don’t have enough time to write it. Either because you’re lazy, pressed for time, or there’s been a family emergency. You hear about a person on the internet who will write it for you. You send them the topic, the due date and R700.00 and it’s yours. No questions asked. No reasons required.
Hypothetical situation number two:
You’re a university student. You’re able to write essays pretty well and need some extra cash to pay off a loan, buy a new pair of shoes or pay the lights and water in your flat. You hear someone mention that students are willing to pay for essays. You put your details up on an anonymous website. The next day someone emails you asking for an essay which they will pay R700.00 for.
Would you do it?
Over at Salon Emily Brown wrote a piece called I’ll write your college essay for cash. She details how due to the shortage of work she resorted to writing essays for college students to make ends meet. Students from across America send her their essay topic along with $100 and she writes it for them. The comments hailed down from above and she has received sympathetic words, as well as words which essentially damn her to academic hell and damnation. Writers beware: do not admit to anything that can be perceived as cheating, plagiarism, or making ends meet. And if you do: use a pseudonym like dear Emily did.
It’s not illegal, doesn’t violate copyright law and no person producing essays for sale (or person found out to have bought an essay) has been successfully prosecuted for engaging in the transaction. It will violate most university’s code of conduct, is certainly unethical and not exactly what you want to hear about upcoming graduates. But where there is a demand there will always be someone willing to fill the void – especially when there’s a bit of money to be made. I can’t say that I was shocked and appalled by her confessions. If you’ve been through university you’ll know that a fair portion of your fellow students are capable of this sort of behaviour – with some already engaging in it.
And I also can’t guarantee that it’s something that in desperation I wouldn’t resort to. If I had to choose between making R2800 per month waitressing or by writing an essay once a week I’d chose the latter. You could always comfort yourself with the thought that you were a ghost writer of sorts – albeit with a lower paying client and a less glamorous project.
Would you buy an essay or write one for cash?