B.C. university introduces grade worse than F
Darcy Wintonyk, ctvbc.ca
Published Wednesday, August 12, 2009 7:01PM PDT
It used to be that the worst grade you could receive in school was an F, and that was bad enough.
But B.C.'s Simon Fraser University is taking punishment to a whole new level, introducing a grade of FD -- meaning failure with dishonesty -- the worst possible grade a student can receive.
Dr. Rob Gordon, director of criminology at SFU and acting chair of the senate committee on academic integrity, says the new grading is intended to curtail cheating using the internet.
"What used to be a lot of cheating in libraries has changed quite significantly," he told ctvbc.ca.
"We now have to be concerned about cheating during exams with high-tech devices and the inappropriate use of internet sources and downloading, including online companies offering services to students that promote academic dishonesty."
University department chairs can impose the FD grade if they feel the incident warrants a severe penalty, or if the student has landed themselves in academic hot water in the past.
"They only use this grade in particularly egregious cases of dishonestly or in cases when they've committed acts of dishonesty several times and haven't learned from their lesson," Gordon said.
The mark, which has yet to be used in its introductory semester, will stay on the student's transcripts for two years after graduation.
"It's more than a fail, it's a failure with a particular reason that is publicly announced that may well be seen by potential employers."
Some students say it's unfair to carry that stigma into the working world.
"Two years loss of your life that is a bit too far," Olid Amid said.
But although some consider the new grading heavy handed, others say the punishment is just in a time where internet cheating is increasing at Canadian post-secondary institutions.
"A student would seriously need to re-evaluate their intentions at university and what they are hoping to get out of it," University of Alberta student Patrice Strate said.
"It makes it a lot easier for those of us who don't cheat to get good grades and to not worry about the people who are cheating," student John Aubrey said.
The University of Alberta uses a similar system where cheaters are given an F8 or F9 grade, which is reduced to an F after three years.
"In our case we give the students a chance to redeem themselves," Dean of Students Frank Robinson said.
"[In] three years they can graduate and have a clean record and get on with life."