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Wanted by The Capricious Grading Committee

December 22, 2014

I cleaned out my mail box in the top corner of the faculty mail room. I don’t know why there’s anything in it. There’s no name on the cubby hole, but it’s stuffed with memos directed to me as well as to the rest of the faculty. Apparently, sometime during the last month, someone filed a complaint against me for unfair grading. There’s a special committee that addresses this specific accusation against a teacher. It’s called The Capricious Grading Committee. For years, I thought that it was a group of faculty members who were elected to do what I have just been accused of doing. How am I supposed to know? I’ve been at this crummy university twenty-five years, but I’ve never been given a faculty handbook.

I’ve never been dragged before the committee, so I am not sure what to expect. It’s a good thing that I haven’t given back any of the final papers yet. It’s late, I know, but there’s really no policy regarding when final term papers are to be returned when they’re due on the date of the last class). I know the student (of course). She complained about the grades on her papers a few weeks ago. She claims that I am an unfair grader. Her proof?

“I get A’s in all of my other teachers’ classes.”

Big whooppee. Maybe her other profs should be dragged before the committee.

The first thing I did was to look at her works cited page. At first glance, it conforms to MLA guidelines.

On second glance, I saw that her indentation was a bit short. Minus one point.

The date of publication of the book is in the wrong place, and there’s a missing period after the date of publication in each of her cited works. I’ll be generous. That’s one point total.

Further inspection reveals that her web sources provide no page numbers, just the abbreviation n. pag.. Most online articles and publications have no page numbers. Fine.

I thought that I might have discovered a flaw in my own method of evaluating a student’s paper (I’ve written about this before) until I checked her online sources. She gives credit to four lines of text from an online publication, but she stole an entire half of a page from the same source and failed to assign credit. Maybe she forgot.

A check of her other online sources reveals that she did it two other times as well. She probably didn’t think I’d check her sources. This little maggot has committed plagiarism.

Further reading revealed a few run-on sentences and improperly indented quotes. I marked them as such (in black ink. Red ink is verboten in this department. Red ink is supposedly traumatizes students).  I re-computed her grade. Two Bs, a C, and an F that counts for twenty-five percent of her grade. It’s not looking good. Someone should evaluate the faculty who wrote her recommendations for her appointment as a TA. She isn’t academic material.

Maybe my system is flawed. Maybe all this time, these crummy little slackers should have been getting lower grades. I need to take a better look at these kids. I saw the tattoo on her ankle and the strange ear piercing that goes through her earlobe and every fold in her ear, then back to her earlobe where it connects to the other end with some sort of industrial fastener. That’s ten points off her final average on Day One.

I wish I had checked my mail sooner. I could have made a copy of this paper and laid it out on the lunch table in the faculty lounge for the rest of the faculty to see during the Christmas party. If they’re giving this first-year graduate student A’s, then perhaps they should take a closer look at the contents of her papers or change their grading methods.

They’re ruining academia.


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