Jun was a good student and happy person. On a pair project, a professor's tool caught Jun's partner plagiarizing; the prof gave both students Fs. Jun couldn't have known of the plagiarism, but appeals were ignored. Jun became depressed, and that F seriously jeopardized Jun's future plans.
This was an example of academic mistreatment: Students shouldn't be punished for things beyond their control, and university appeals processes should be functioning.
Academic mistreatment, in various forms, is surprisingly common. Nearly half of college students report academic mistreatment leading to serious consequences. It hurts hundreds of thousands of students annually, who might believe profs can do whatever they want (they can't), are afraid to speak up, or don't know how to resolve issues. It contributes to depression, poor grades, and dropout, especially hurting less-privileged students. It impacts professors entangled in disputes or demoralized seeing colleagues mistreat students, and hurts universities who grapple with low graduation rates and want happy alumni.
CSA addresses college-level academic mistreatment, promoting justice for students, emphasizing unity among professors and students in their shared goal of student success. CSA educates students and professors on what constitutes academic mistreatment, while defending professors' academic freedom and the need to run classes without intrusion. CSA educates students on resolving issues, and sometimes assists. CSA is a professor-founded California-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Students: Getting Help
Been hurt by a professor or department and wondering "Is that allowed?" Want to resolve an academic mistreatment case but don't know how? Need outside assistance on a case? CSA helps students resolve academic mistreatment, so they have a fairer chance at learning, getting good grades, and achieving their degree. CSA also helps professors recognize, address, and prevent mistreatment in their own classes and universities.
Read "What is academic mistreatment" below to learn what's OK and not OK. Read "Taking action" to learn how to address mistreatment.
A list of academic mistreatment cases from around the country
Can't submit homework
A professor required homework be placed in his briefcase before the class bell. Students arriving on time would line up to submit, but the professor would shut the briefcase at the bell, meaning dozens of students couldn't submit their homework.
A professor reused exams each term. Students with access to the previous exams would score 100, and others averaged 65 (a D). When students pointed out the issue, the professor said: "Not my problem."
No makeup exams
A student was hospitalized during final exams. Upon calling the professor before the exam, the professor said no makeup exams would be given, meaning the student (who had a strong A) would get a D in the class.
A professor's accent was so strong as to make his English incomprehensible to everyone in class. Students would attend class just to read assigned homework on the board.
Exam filled with errors
A multiple-choice exam was riddled with errors. The professor wrote over 50 corrections on the board, in hard-to-read writing. Despite massive confusion, no adjustment was made to the grading scale.
A professor would grade exams without a rubric or explanations, with huge variations. On exam 1, a first study partner got an A and a second got an F, while on exam 2, the first got an F and the second an A. When asked how exams were graded, the professor replied "Don't worry."
Won't correct mistake
A student showed a teacher 3 grading mistakes. The teacher admitted to all 3 mistakes, but only gave points for the first 2, saying they "didn't want to give back too many points."
Before a term, a student added one class and dropped another, submitting the add and drop forms together. At the term's end, his transcript showed the added class, but also showed the dropped class with an F. The department said nothing could be done.
And now a secret...
These cases aren't from around the country, but all happened to CSA's founder, as a student, at a "good" school. If all that happened to one student, imagine how much more is happening. CSA aims to reduce such academic mistreatment on a national scale, so students have a fairer chance at success.