Some Engineering students say there is something fishy about the grading system in their Oceanography course. In what several administrators term an unprecedented case at the University, a class in oceanography is being conducted with two grading curves -- a more difficult curve for Engineering students and another for students from other undergraduate schools. Associate Geology Professor Charles Thayer, who teaches the class, said last night that he is looking out for students who may not have an equal background in the physical sciences. "I thought it might be a way to keep non-science students in a science course," Thayer said. According to several students, the professor asked those enrolled to identify themselves by school at the first class of Geology 130. Of approximately 200 students, nearly half signified they were in the Engineering school. Executive Assistant to the Provost Linda Koons said last night she was "surprised" by the professors' decision, but said that there was no policy to prevent the professor's decision. In addition, she said that the pass/fail option is in place as an alternative to students who wish to pursue a course they may not have an extensive background in. "I've never seen this before," Koons said. "[As far as I know] there are no rules about it." Provost Michael Aiken could not be reached for comment last night. Engineering Dean Gregory Farrington said that he has never heard of such a grading system in any other class. "I find it a strange situation, if, in fact, it's true," Farrington said. The course for both groups will be exactly the same, but students of varying schools will be evaluated differently, according to students in the class. "He will administer the same exams, but administer the grades separately," said Engineering junior Scott Villa. Engineering students said they were disturbed by being segregated from the rest of the class, adding that there is no basis to it. "I have no background in oceanography," Villa said. "I am not at all better prepared." Most Engineering students are only required to take five credits of hard sciences -- three in physics and two in classes of their choice. "The only thing we are required to take is math and physics, and in this class we are mostly doing chemistry and biology," said Engineering and College junior Heidi Saffer. "We've been treated unfairly and we don't have an unfair advantage. It seems kind of ridiculous." Thayer said last night that he could change the policy if there is much opposition from students. "If it is unpopular, I will certainly change it," Thayer said.Comments powered by Disqus
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