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January 14, 1983 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1983-01-14

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OPINION

Page 4

Friday, January 14, 1983

The Michigan Daily

Making up (an exam) is hard to do

By Chuck Jaffe

On December 14, LSA junior Rick Erwin's
right lung collapsed. So did his hopes for a solid
academic term.
The physical and academic collapse that oc-
curred on the first day of final exams last term
was the result of circumstances beyond Er-
win's control. His lung lost pressure when a
blister popped on its surface. The grades collap-
sed when one faculty member refused to give
him a fair chance to make up a final exam..
ERWIN SPENT exam week with a tube in his
chest, unable to get out of bed, let alone take his
tests. When he was released on the last day of
exams, he knew that two of his professors
would allow him to make up any missed work
on equal terms with the rest of his classmates.
In the third class, Erwin accepted his
professor's "strong" recommendation that he
retake the entire course.
But physics instructor Jean Krisch was not
as understanding. The only option she offered
Erwin was taking a standardized departmental
final without the aid of four note cards every
other student who took the test during exam
week was allotted. Without the note cards -
which contained various equations crucial to
solving the problems on the exam-Erwin
failed the test'and his grade fell from a possible
"A" to a "<C".

Erwin is now fighting for a fair shake in
physics and finding it an uphill battle. But as he
is discovering, LSA rules allow professors to
make their own exam policies and students
may find that fairness is not always written in-
to such procedures.
ACCORDING TO "The Handbook for In-
structional Staff," a list of guidelines approved
by LSA, "A student who is unavoidably absent
from a final examination may, upon presen-
tation of an excuse satisfactory to the instruc-
tor, be granted the privilege of making up the
examination within the first four weeks of the
next fall or winter term in residence."
The problem is that the instructor decides
what "satisfactory" means, according to
Eugene Nissen, LSA assistant dean of
academic affairs. "In (any) case, an instructor
can say, 'I don't care what the excuse is, I'm
not going to accept it' and point to (the
guidelines) to show that it is legal."
Most administrators agree that such
unyielding instructors are rare, but Helen
Crafton, the LSA director of academic action,
said not much can be done about them, "Every
department in the college must have a grade,
grievance procedure and they do. There are
some instructors who don't give make-up
exams and there is nothing in the code that for-
ces them to give another test. They're not
violating any college rule."

BUT IF THAT'S the case, then maybe the
rules should be changed. When futures are on
the line and money has been paid for classes,
shouldn't students be allowed an equal oppor-
tunity to get the grade they earned regardless
of a serious illness or some other legitimate
excuse? Of course they should, and most
professors and instuctors adhere to such a
policy.
But because of the few instructors who don't,
the guidelines should be amended to ensure
that students like Erwin are offered a make-up
exam equivalent to the original test in as
many ways as possible.
This was not the case with Krisch's make-up
exam. Although the questions were similar to
the original exam, Erwin was not allowed the
note cards that were key to completing the test
successfully. He was denied the note car-
ds-and thus a fair grade-solely because of his
illness.
"I ALWAYS thought make-up exams were
supposed to be equal, just later than the
regularly scheduled exam," Erwin said. "I
thought that was the definition of a make-up
exam."
Erwin's battle is not over. He has filed a
petition with the physics department and met
with Nissen in attempts to get his grade
changed. But this might not change anything
either. Even a favorable ruling by the ad-

ministrative board for academic actions does
not change the grade. The committee - which
has yet to decide Erwin's case - can only
recommend the grade be changed. As with the
make-up test policy, the final decision rests with
the instructor.
"This office would not have the authority to
change the grade or force the professor to
give another exam," Nissen said. "We can't
change the grade without the consent of the in-
structor. The faculty member can stand on the
code. "
"I doubt anything will result in my deter-
mination," Erwin said. "Eventually, if enough
people complain about the policy, then
something might be done. I just don't know if I
can do too much more than I've already done."
He shouldn't have to do more. Stricken with a
serious illness that put him in the hospital, he
should not be forced to deal. with the minority of
professors that can be so unreasonable as to
jeopardize a student's future. The power over
make-up exam policies must be further
removed from the hands of the instructors and
written into University policy.
Rick Erwin and others like him deserve to be
treated as people, not identification numbers.
Most health problems come and go, but the
damage done by an unjust grade may never get
better.

'Every department in the
college must have a grade
grievance. procedure and they
do. There are some instuctors
who don't give make-up exams
and there is nothing in the code
that forces them to give
another test. They're not
violating any college rule.'
-LSA Diretor of
Academic Action
Helen Crafton
E .4

Jaffe is a Daily staff writer.

die amgdsan a n
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCIII, No. 85

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Wasserman
M UTILITY BLL S
GOE UP MA\N
CIy
--/

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Quibbling over language

TNAZ'S RtUKT
0

NDANGERING A worthy
proposal by quibbling over its
specific language is becoming more '
and more popular these day. Recen-
specific language is becoming more
and more popular these days. Recen-
tly, the United States opposed a U.N.
resolution on protecting the world's
natural resources from destruction by
warfare, merely because it disagreed
with the wording of the document.
Now it appears that several members
of the Ann Arbor City Council will
follow this national lead in their op-
position to making Ann Arbor a
nuclear free zone.
The Reagan administration said it
objected to the U.N. resolution because
of its language - but did nothing to let
its objections be heard until after the
vote. the Japanese, on the other hand,
voiced similar objections prior to the
vote and their doubts were erased.
They voted for the resolution.
It was, after all, an idea worth sup-
porting; who wants to destroy natural
resources through warfare? But the
United States couldn't get past the
. phraseology, even though 100 other
nations saw the meaure in a positive
light.
As for Ann Arbor, a local anti-
nuclear arms group is planning to ask
the council to let voters decide in April

whether they want to make Ann Arbor
the nation's fourth nuclear free city.
The proposal which would be placed on
the April ballot states that the city op-
poses the nuclear arms race and objec-
ts to the transportation of nuclear
weapons through Ann Arbor.
The resolution, which would not be
legally binding, would not have any
real bite. But, like the U.N. resolution,
it would be an important statement of
sentiment, a symbolic gesture against
nuclear war for the people of this city
to make.
But Republicans on the council
already have started to nitpick about
the language, hemming and hawing
that the sentiment of the proposal is
good, but the wording is impractical
and the idea itself, insignificant.
There's an alternative, though, to
zapping a good proposal or the
proposal's impact, councilmembers
could get together with the group spon-
soring the statement and work out an
acceptable wording. Then, the nuclear
free zone proposal could stand a chan-
ce of making it onto the city ballot -
before it dies in the hands of
bureaucratic haggling.
By working things out beforehand,
the Ann Arbor City Council can avoid
the trap of forfeiting another idea wor-
th having.

WHAT ABOUT'EE
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The U.S. Catholic bishops' bold
step on the peace issue has over-
shadowed an equally dramatic
policy movement: their quiet
step back from the abortion
issue.
Oddly enough, this movement
was singaled by the bishops'
agreement to continue to support
the constitutional amendment on
abortion introduced by Sen. Orrin
Hatch (R-Utah). That amen-
dment would permit-but not
require-Congress and the states
to restrict abortion.
THE CATHOLIC bishops are
backing away from abortion in
supporting the Hatch amen-
dment, for they are in fact sup-
porting a measure which has no
chance of passage. The failure
can only demoralize people who
have spent years of their lives in
the right-to-life movement.
It seems that the bishops are
not even willing to engage in
public debate on the abortion
issue any longer. In their recent
Washington conclave, abortion
was discussed perfunctionally in
a brief public report, following
which not one bishop asked a
question or volunteered a com-
ment.
Support for the Hatch amen-
dment was reaffirmed by several
members following a separate
meeting closed to the press.
Bishop Elden Curtis of Helena,
Mont., stated flatly: "We're
going to support the Hatch amen-
dment." His statement was
echoed by Archbishop Thomas

Are bishops
washing their
hands of the
abortion isse?
By Mary Meehan

Catholic Conference, an arm of
the bishops,aided this effort with
a memo attacking the bill on a
constitutional grounds. Leaked
to the press, it was gleefully cited
by pro-choice forces for the next
16 months.
John Mackey, lobbyist for the
Ad Hoc Committee in Defense of
Life, recently told the Wanderei,
a Catholic newspaper, that "the
bureaucrats of the U.S. Catholic
Conference virtually have op-
posed every major initiative we
have launched." Mackey noted
one exception, saying that "the
U.S.C.C. ultimately did support
the Hyde amendment - but cer-
tainly not at first.'
GIVEN THE record of op-
position, some pro-life activists
have begun to wonder whether
the bishops have decided to sup-
port the Hatch amendment,
knowing that it will be defeated,
-in an effort to actually bury the
pro-life'issue politically.
The Rev. James Schall, who
teaches government at
Georgetown University, wrote
last year: "If the Hatch amen-
dment is defeated, the weakest
possible case, then it will be easyV*
to say that nothing is 'possible,'
so we must accept defeat and 'get
on' to other things. Having tried
and lost, the issue can be quietly
dropped ... "
Even now, the director of the
Office of Pro-Life Activities, the
Rev. Edward Bryce, recently
called a meeting of diocesean
pro-life coordinators to plan a
strategy on the doomed amen-

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4

than enough to block a vote on a
constitutional amendment, which
requires a two-thirds vote. Their
support in the Senate is even
higher.
So, why are the Catholic
bishops still backing the Hatch
amendment, especially when
legislative alternatives do exist?
One such alternative is to push
passage of a statute rather than
an amendment. A statute
requires only a majority vote in
each house. This is the approach
urged by Sen. Jesse Helsm, (R-
N.C.), and Rep. Henry Hyde, (R-
Ill.). Helms came close to a
majority in favor of such a
statute in the last Senate session
and could probably obtain one in
the next.

Cardinal Terence Cooks of New
York, who normally would have
reported on abortion, was not
present to do so, although he had
discussed nuclear arms two days
earlier at the conference. His
report was read by an archbishop
while several of his brethren took
a coffee break in the rear of the
meeting room.
Many of the people who have
put their life's blood into the
right-to-life movement believe
their cause is Winable politically,
but they also believe that one has
to know how to count to win in the
U.S. Congress.
LEADERS OF groups such as
the Ad Hoc Committee in Defense
of Life, the American Lify Lobby
and the Christian Action Council
-.,i .. . -a,. - .,, , - u

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