Faculty relieves itself of grading burden
Just as it is not unusual for a dog to urinate on the trunk
of a tree simply because other dogs have urinated there before him, so
is it not unusual for faculty members to vote for a major change to a
grading system simply because other schools have done so. And just as
the dog does not take the tree into consideration when relieving himself,
neither do faculty members seem to take students into account when making
This is unfortunate, since unlike trees (and contrary to
the beliefs of some professors), students do have brains and are not only
capable of understanding the effects of a change in the grading system,
but they are also capable of expressing their views to the Faculty. One
would imagine that if a tree proclaimed to a dog that it would have none
of the dog's rude behavior, then the dog would pay attention. This is
apparently not true of the Faculty.
It is inexcusable that the Faculty voted to institute a
plus/minus grading system even though the change is opposed by the students,
the only people who are really affected by the change. (Unless you count
how good professors will feel about themselves when they have the opportunity
to "reward" B+ students and "punish" B- students.)
There were, thankfully, some professors who took the initiative to vote
on behalf of the students, and likely some contrary to their own opinions.
However, the fact that 61 percent of faculty members at
the meeting still voted against the student opinion certainly raises some
questions about the level of respect that some professors have for their
students, especially those who came to Bowdoin because of the lack of
emphasis on grades.
Whereas faculty members could have chosen to protect the
currently enrolled students and lock them into the current grading system-
either by giving two types of grades or postponing the implementation
of pluses and minuses for three years- they instead wanted the convenience
and instant gratification of putting the system to work in the fall. In
doing this, they broke an implicit contract and sorely let down the three
class years of students who were guaranteed a welcoming academic environment
and will now be delivered a competitive, grade-oriented one.
The situation is equally as grim for prospective students.
There is no doubt that prospective students actively seek out information
on grading systems prior to applying for college. This was made very clear
by the students who attended the plus/minus forum. Those professors who
deny this and instead claim that current students have a "retroactive"
memory in recalling what made them come to Bowdoin are living in a delusional,
self-centered fantasy world. Partly as a result of this delusion, Bowdoin
will now no longer have the advantage of attracting students who prefer
to get an education rather than just get grades.
The major issue with each streamlining and normalizing decision
that the Faculty makes (e.g. changing the grading system, and now the
possibility of printing GPAs on transcripts) is that Bowdoin nears mediocrity:
it moves from being distinct to being academically indistinguishable from
other similar institutions. Bowdoin will claim to be somehow exceptional
in its viewbook, but it will deliver the same classroom experience as
every other school like it.
The Faculty has made a great error in judgement in making this change, specifically with total disregard to the interests of the current students, and this error will undoubtedly set a precedent for further votes for mediocrity.
-BJL & NJL
The volume number of the 2001-2002 edition of the Orient has been changed from 133 to 131 beginning with this issue. This change is a correction resulting from the original volume numbering mistake that was made in 1992. In January of that year, the volume number was erroneously changed from 121 to 122, and the volume numbers until the fall of 1996 remained one number too high. In the fall of 1996, the papers were given volume numbers ranging from 126 to 129, and finally settling on 125, which was one volume number too low. The volume number remained this way until the fall of 1998, where it was increased by three, thus making it two numbers too high. We are now correcting this problem by reducing the volume number by two.