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The Daily Wildcat


Buying Essays: Easy Plagiarism

Juni Nelson
Juni Nelson / Arizona Daily Wildcat Photo Illustration by Juni Nelson

Essay writing companies sell students examples they can use as a base for their papers. What thousands of students actually do with them is a different story.

For upward of $26 dollars a page, John Crestani’s company,, provides students with sample essays, research papers and dissertations. His employees are pre-screened and put through a series of tests to ensure they’re effective writers. About one-third of them are ex-teachers.

But Crestani said the service is meant for students in times of desperation, not for regular use.

“If some one eats McDonald’s every single day, they’re going to become unhealthily fat. It’s going to be really bad for them,” he said. “Same thing here.”

People caught in difficult circumstances find his service valuable, including mothers returning to school, parents buying their kids entrance essays and especially international students, he said.

“It’s useless,” said Ez-Adeen Naji, a Pima Community College international student from Iraq. “Buying essays doesn’t help me because I actually want to learn.”

Replacing office hours with buying sample essays would ensure he’s not prepared for the UA when he transfers next spring, Naji added.

Christine Hamel, a writing specialist at the Think Tank, said the tutoring center recognizes other challenges international students face. Those students receive more attention on mechanics and grammar while native speakers are focused on content and organization, she said.

Amro Hamed, a pre-business sophomore, said he wouldn’t use Crestani’s service and that most of the students who do use it to cheat.

“Who would only look at an essay after they just bought it?” he said. “That’s a horrible joke. You buy an essay for one reason, to turn it in.”

Hamel said essay-writing companies worry her because they’re so easy to abuse.

“The site can’t control what students do with the essay,” she said. “It’s a potential disaster.”

Paul Melendez, EthicsPoint distinguished lecturer in business and director of the Center for Leadership Ethics, said most students don’t plagiarize because they’re arrogant and think they won’t get caught. It’s a combination of pressure and weak reading and writing skills, he said.

It’s important to distinguish between someone who copies and pastes an entire essay and a student who struggles with paraphrasing, he said. Melendez agreed with Hamel and said he would steer clear of using the service because of the high potential for abuse.

“I fail to understand how these businesses can assume that their papers won’t be used to cheat,” Hamel said.

Crestani emphasized that he does not promote unethical behavior, but doesn’t know how many students use his service to cheat and isn’t interested in pursuing the issue.

“I have no idea (how many students cheat) and I don’t want to know,” Crestani said. “That’s their problem.”

An honor code on his website could “possibly” prevent students from cheating with his essays, Crestani said. He said he doesn’t know how many of his customers are UA students.

“What business owner, when asked, ‘do you care if something occurs to your customers?’ says ‘I don’t know, I don’t care, that’s their problem,” Melendez said. “That smacks of arrogance. To me, that’s not responsible behavior.”

Macaulay Christian, a sophomore studying political science and classics, said he writes a lot for both majors but wouldn’t use the service. Examples from teachers are fine, but students paying businesses for the same thing is wrong, he said. It’s weird that former teachers would work for Crestani’s company, he added.

Crestani said students’ use of his service points to other problems in higher education.

“It’s a service that allows students to focus more on what they want to do,” he said. “They’re going to an institution for higher learning and purchasing example essays. There’s a huge irony there. I hope some kids come face to face with that and realize ‘either college isn’t for me’ or ‘I should take my life more seriously.’ There’s a lot of areas where college has dropped the ball and we’re an easy scapegoat.”

Crestani said he profits off of students who don’t care about college and exacerbates the problem “100 percent.” Later, he said he didn’t know if he makes things worse.

Preparation and planning could prevent the need for such services.

When his students write essays, Melendez sets milestones for them, checks on their progress, gives them enough time to write the paper and provides them with samples other students have written. It shows them high quality work is an achievable goal, he added.

Melendez said if a student chooses to cheat, most of the blame falls on the student, not Crestani or his service.

“I’m not judging him or students,” Melendez said. “His service could have some value and again, it comes down to how you use the information. Thank God for choices.”

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