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More examples

These examples are things CSA's founder directly observed at his own university while a professor, and things his three kids experienced at various community colleges and universities. 

 

  • A visiting professor assigned every chapter-end problem as calculus homework, about 40 hours per week, far exceeding the 9 hours/week allowed for a 4-unit course. 

    • Student notified the dept chair. Visiting prof refused to adjust. His contract was not renewed. ​

  • A lecturer for a 1000-student course saw a money-making opportunity, so self-published a book on Microsoft Office. He charged his students $100 (existing books were just $40), earning himself $100,000 per term. To prevent used book sales, exams had to be tear-out pages, and he would not accept photocopies.  

    • After three terms, a student notified the dept chair and undergrad advisor, we were previously unaware. Lecturer was fired mid-term.  ​

  • A professor gave short quizzes with long problems. When time was up, she'd begin snatching papers, starting from the room's front. When students pointed out that students in back were still working, her answer was "I can't control that."

    • Student contacted the dept chair, who coached the prof on fairer techniques.

  • A student was told by academic advisors that he was on track. A senior-year spring graduation check confirmed. Weeks before graduation, he received a letter saying a course was missing (related to double-counting a history course). He had to delay his graduation and take a summer class.

    • He appealed to the associate dean but without resolution. This is the kind of case where CSA could step in to help. ​

  • A computer science professor said "If your program doesn't run, you get an F". That's reasonable. But, the prof made a mistake in how he ran programs, causing half the students' programs to not run. He refused to believe he made a mistake and gave half his class Fs. 

    • Student contacted the dept chair, who was able to resolve.​

  • An associate dean approved late class withdrawals for a very ill student; that's normal. But the campus registrar refused to process the paperwork, saying the student wasn't ill enough.

    • Appeals to the college dean—then to the dean of students—failed. After months, the university chancellor was emailed by an advocate for the student (a prof from another university), and the matter was resolved the next day. 

  • A prof started a lecture by saying "I have a headache today and I'm tired of your questions. Anyone who asks a question today gets an F in the class". 

  • A prof felt too many students were asking for regrades. So she made 25% of the course grade "No complaining points". Students who submitted regrade requests would lose their no complaining points.  

    • Upon being discovered, lecturer was not hired back.​

  • A prof allowed covid-19 quarantined students to take the final exam online, proctored by video with a TA. Upon seeing that the online students scores higher than the rest of the class, he invalidated their finals, gave them an Incomplete grade in the class, and required them to retake the final exam in-person next term.

    • An advocate notified the Student Conduct office, who informed the prof that suspected cheating must be reported and follow a process that allows for appeals. Prof instead validated the students' final exams.  

  • An engineering department ran a senior capstone project course, which had no scheduled class meeting time. At the term's start, the prof picked a meeting time and required attendance, even though many students had other classes at that time. Those students had to skip those other classes, or risk failing the capstone course. 

  • A prof gave huge programming projects requiring 30-40 hours/week for most students, well beyond the 9 allowable outside hours/week for a 4-unit course. 

    • After enough student complaints, prof was no longer assigned this class.​

  • An engineering prof was busy, releasing the 2-week group project during finals week. He set the deadline to be after the official term end date but one day before he had to submit grades, thus requiring students to work with their groups into the winter break (many students already had flights back home).

    • An advocate emailed the dept chair and vice-chair. It was too late to resolve, but the prof was warned not to repeat.​

Above, one might notice that sometimes just notifying a higher-up (e.g., dept chair) leads to issues being resolved. CSA aims to reduce such academic mistreatment in a friendly way; sometimes all that is needed is to shine a light on the mistreatment, and many professors and administrators are often thankful for the help as they want students treated with justice too. 

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