Today a little gem was posted on one of the professional listservs that I follow, and I just can’t help commenting on it.
One of the odious websites that allows students to pay for papers has this paragraph of helpful explanation:
“Teachers and professors usually expect their students to be eligible enough to cope with all difficulties in their educational life. These difficulties include submission of home assignments in proper time. Teachers usually are habitual of giving unmanageable time ranges to their students for submission of home assignments. They think that their students should contribute in the advancement and progress of the world and according to their thoughts, students can only become capable of contribution in the advanced race on the basis of time management. That is the reason why they insist on a number of difficult writing assignments. In their point of view, if students try to submit home assignments in the given time, they can improve their pace of working as compared to the rest of the world. Teachers do not feel themselves responsible for adding difficulties to students’ life, but consider these hard obstacles to be their well wishing. In such disturbing circumstances, students should search for assignment writing help from CustomWritings.com, … We are the best in providing custom assignments for money, which are completed according to the requirements of the customers.”
I don’t even know where to start. Can someone get the students believing this a violin? Actually, bring in a full string orchestra and a crate of cheese to accompany the whining.
I hate these sites and what they say about the integrity lapses of our culture. The site itself is so self-contradictory that it’s not even funny. The site is dripping with statements that clearly indicate that students are buying these papers to turn in as is to professors. But, in a miniscule attempt to appear legitimate (or to perhaps assuage the last remaining shred of tattered conscience that a student considering the site may have), this site makes the standard disclaimer that most of these sites do. It tells students the paper will not violate any university policies because it is only meant to be used as a model paper, one that the student references in their own paper. PUH-lease. As if students are going to pay $13 to $31 dollars a page for a research source. And, double PUH-lease. If I ever have a student actually attempt to cite a paper from a website like this, I’ll need to be hospitalized because the snort of derision that I exhale will probably be violent enough to pull some gray matter out with it. And, the fact that this site says, “We really hope that we help you enhance your academic expertise. Remember that it’s your responsibility to do your own work,” in an orange box at the bottom of a page as if they really mean it just reads as a bad punch line to a horrible joke.
I also hate what these sites say about the long-term decision making ability of individuals in our society. The site says, “We care about you and your future, and we don’t want you to feel humiliated in front of your teachers and fellow classmates.” It’s a shame they don’t care about the humiliation these students will face when they reach their employers and can’t write their way out of a paper bag much less craft an intelligent proposal for their bosses. Well, at least they don’t care about the humiliation of most of the students asking for their help; there are some limits. In the “director’s notice on social responsibility,” the site does inform students from the fields of construction engineering, medicine, and criminal law that their professors will be informed if students try to use the site since “primary human rights, life and health might directly depend on the decisions of our customers, in real-world professional situations.”
And so, despite all the hate expressed in this post, I do have some joy. I’m glad I’m reading blog assignments written by students who are clearly engaged in their own struggle to grapple with source credibility and making meaning out of complex readings. I’m glad I’ve had a student visit my office “mad” at her source because her source made a false promise and didn’t deliver the information that she is passionately seeking to round out her topic. I’m glad that same student was brave enough to admit that research is hard but that effort is worth it because she can take all this toil and mess and apply it to her career. I’m glad that another student who literally spent hours finding his first few sources persevered to the point that he can find sources more confidently now. And, I’m glad that when I put an A on a paper last past week, I could talk to a writing center tutor who afterwards told me that the student ran up to her in the dining hall after he got the grade because he was so excited that his hard work in three writing center appointments had paid off in a narrative that he could be proud of. And, we were all able to celebrate discipline and honesty and a community of writers working together to bring out the best in each other. And, that’s what I wish websites could sell. But, they can’t because the reward is in the work, not in shifting the blame and circumventing the work.