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Discipline and Grades Reports Presented at Faculty Meeting

By Zareena Hussain

A total of only four cases came before the Institute’s Committee on Discipline during the 1997-98 academic year, according to a report of disciplinary actions taken by MIT presented at the Mar. 17 faculty meeting.

Dean for Student Life Margaret R. Bates presented the statistics along with statistics about hearings that came before the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education as well as administrative reviews. These statistics are made public to the MIT community as part of policy instituted five years ago to inform the faculty about discipline cases heard by the Institute.

Three of the cases which came before the COD last year involved academic misconduct. One student was put on on informal probation for plagiarism and two students were given two terms of formal probation for cheating. The fourth case involved violation of Athena rules of use and privacy. The student was put on formal probation and offered counseling.

Two discipline cases were heard by a hearing panel withing ODSUE instead of the COD. In one case, charges of sexual harassment brought by one student were dismissed. In another case, a sanction of internal probation was handed down against a student for violation of Athena rules of use after a complaint was filed by three other students.

When cases are brought to the attention of ODSUE, a program administrator consults with the chair of the COD and the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education to decide whether the case is heard by the COD directly or by an ODSUE hearing panel.

The hearing panels consist of three trained members of ODSUE as well as one undergraduate and one graduate student representative.

Four cases deemed less serious were brought before administrative review. Administrative reviews are heard by an ODSUE dean and one student.

In three cases, students were charged with breaking and entering into heating and ventilation systems and were required to write letters of apology. In a fourth, the Church of Scientology filed a complaint against a student for vandalism of church property. The student was ordered to pay full restitution and do community service.

Faculty to vote on +/- grading

The Committee on the Undergraduate Program subcommittee reviewing the grading system recommended the permanent adoption of the current grading scheme. The recommendation stems from an evaluation of the three-year experiment involving the use of internal plus-minus modifiers, and it will come before a vote at the faculty’s April meeting.

Subcommittee chair Paul A. Lagace ’78, co-director of the Leaders for Manufacturing Program, presented findings that use of modifiers externally would have negligible effects on student grade point averages. Approximately 33 percent of students would witness a 0.1 decrease in GPAs and only four percent of students would witness a 0.1 point increase in their GPAs.

The committee also assessed the use of internal modifiers by professors. It found that modifiers were used in 75 to 80 percent of undergraduate subjects and 55 to 60 percent of graduate subjects.

Additionally, according to surveys, 70 percent of students and 85 percent of faculty felt that internal grade modifiers provided better feedback to students.

The committee also reported that 90 to 95 percent of students did not report internal modifiers externally and only about five percent of the time were students asked to do so.

The committee also polled faculty and students about their views on the effect grade modifiers had on overall academic pressure on students. Whereas over 90 percent of students felt that external grade modifiers would result an increase in academic pressure, only 34 percent of faculty felt the same way.

The next faculty meeting will be held on Wednesday, Apr. 21 in 10-250.