Working with integrity

"work. study. play. with integrity"

Arts student navigates academic integrity

Guest blog by Jill Storey

Recently I had an encounter with a well-known education technology company that made me think about what it meant to have integrity. I had to evaluate both the company and my own values during this experience, and making the right choice was difficult. In the end, however, following my own values led me to success. To me, having academic integrity means that one is responsible for their own work, and does not cheat or take advantage of the work of others.

Please note that for legal reasons, the Secretariat & Office of General Counsel has advised the writer not to mention the company featured in this article by name.

Notes-sharing sites: opportunity or scam?

Jill StoreyWhat if you were selected as an intern for a company that offered professional training, a decent wage, and the opportunity to help students around the world? On top of that, your only responsibility was to donate your old stacks of notes, and to convince your peers to do the same. As a student, it sounds like a dream job. You are essentially being paid for what you already do best; take notes and network.

I was recently offered such an opportunity, and at first I was thrilled. My contributions alone would help send 12 books to Gambia. With the help of my friends we would have been able to donate well over 300 books. The offer seemed legitimate because the company had used the University of Waterloo’s address in their advertisements. I assumed that because they had tied themselves to the university, they must be a part of the university. It did not occur to me that they had used the address without the university’s permission.  

To my surprise, that company was not a real education technology company. The company was making money by selling student contributions. Most of these contributions did not belong to the students and were copyrighted material. The company claimed to only take student materials, I was being asked to contribute old exams, essays, and homework assignments that were not mine.

I was unsure of how to handle my situation, so I found someone who could answer my questions.  I contacted my academic advisor, who connected me with the Office of Academic Integrity. With the new information that I learned about copyright and ownership, I rejected the company’s offer. Although I had rejected the internship position, I found that when one door closes, another opens, because I was offered a promotional position with the Academic Integrity Office.

I could have overlooked the flaws in the company’s internship program and it would have been easy to upload my course materials. However, I was able to make the right decision by following my core values. It is important to me to make good choices, and by accepting the internship I would have supported a business that encourages stealing and cheating. When you are put in a situation that you do not understand, always speak up and most importantly, ask questions!

The University of Waterloo offers many resources that will point you in the right direction. Ignorance is never an excuse for your actions, and the difference between a scam and a good opportunity often lies in the fine print.


I originally prepared this article for the Daily Bulletin to share my story, because I feel that many students do not fully understand the mechanics behind note-sharing sites. I hope that through sharing my experience, other students will see that when an offer sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not what you think it is.

I will be in the Student Life Centre on July 22 and July 29 from 11am to 2pm, and I will be willing to talk to anyone who would like to know more about my experience.

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