JIM (not his real name), a senior at a Carolina college, was dying of cancer. He needed to write just one more paper to receive his degree, but he did not have the strength to do the necessary research. Jim confided in his priest, who found a solution to Jim's problem. He contacted Quality Bullshit (QBS), a termpaper service located in Brighton. QBS is now writing the paper, and as a humanitarian gesture, is doing it free of charge.
Quality Bullshit is just one of the four professional term-paper services operating in the Boston area, the birthplace of this new industry. The companies change $2.25-$6 a page for custom-made papers and $1.50-$3 a page for used papers. By June, the four services will have sold approximately 10,000 papers for a cool $250,000.
The brain behind the term-paper business is Bill Carmody, a 26-year-old graduate of Northeastern Business School and the president of International Termpapers, Inc., located in Waltham.
"People talked about setting up a term-paper business for ages," Carmody said recently. "Well, about four years ago, I began to test the market to see if the whole idea was really feasible. I put a few advertisements in Boston After Dark in order to attract students and writers. The response was unbelievable. So I founded International, and our phones have been jangling like mad ever since."
International, with 80,000 papers in its files, is the largest term-paper service in the country. Carmody employs 300 writers, two secretaries, and one full-time assistant. He pays his writers $2-$3 a page and charges his customers-who come from all area colleges-$3-$6 a page. In addition, each student shells out a $2 application fee.
Most of the term papers are written by college graduates who work full-time or part-time for the term-paper services. Some writers produce only a couple of papers a month while others turn out as many as four or five papers a week. Most write only in certain fields while some will write in any area. One of the most prolific writers in the business is Phil Mushcovitz, a Northeastern graduate who has monthly columns in Blackbelt Magazine and Karate Illustrated. Mushcovitz writes for both QBS and Universal Termpapers and has a paper due every day through May 17. Mushcovitz says that he earns $140 a week, before taxes, for his efforts.
Like its competitors, International Termpapers keeps detailed records of its transactions to make sure that no one instructor receives two identical papers. And any paper which gets less than a B twice is immediately tossed out of the files.
Carmody refused to disclose just how much money he had made since he opened up the business. Yet it must be considerable, for Carmody not only has numerous employees and a plush office, he also spends $1000 on advertisements per week.
Carmody argued that his business is in no way unethical since the firm does not produce papers to order-it only offers students a choice from among its existing stock. "We don't write term papers for students," Carmody pointed out. "We only sell students papers which our professional writers produce for us. I mean, if we actually wrote papers for students, well, that's going off the deep end."
THE Harvard Administration condemns the term-paper business in vehement language. Dean Epps said that the business "strikes at the heart of the educational process." As plagiarism, it is "an offense which the University will not tolerate under any circumstances," Epps said, warning that Harvard might expel a student caught buying a term paper.
He also said that Harvard may go to court to prevent the services from selling papers to Harvard students. He did not say what the legal basis for such a suit might be, but noted only that the matter is being discussed with University counsel.
Administrators at other colleges are just as irate. Stephen Trachtenberg, dean of University Affairs at B. U., labeled the presidents of the term-paper companies "enemies of the people," and said that the B. U. administration was also contemplating court action.
Perhaps the fastest growing term-paper service is Universal Research, which began in March. At the start it was a one-man operation but now has 34 writers and 280 papers stashed away in its files. Universal sells custom-written papers, complete with footnotes and bibliography, for $4-$6 a page, and "used" papers for $2 a page.
The man responsible for Universal's rapid development is known by a number of aliases. His writers call him Dave Martin. Bill Carmody said that he had always known him as Steve Gordon. He is also known in the Boston area as Mr. Papers.
WHEN I called up Mr. Papers to request an interview, he was a bit hesitant. "The trouble is," he explained, "I work a 20-hour day, seven days a week. Except, of course, for yesterday, when I worked 22 hours. But I'll tell you what. I'll meet you in front of the Crimson at 2:30 a. m. You'll recognize me because I'll come in a yellow car."