Law final exam gong-show

By Stephanie Shewchuk

Controversy plaguing a LAW 403 final exam has provoked reactions of defiance and calls to reform the rules around exam administration.

The controversy occurred after the December 13 final for the first year legislation, administration, and policy class when it was revealed the professor had reused questions from an old exam. The test, previously used in 1990, was available at the library on reserve and it was alleged some students brought in the old exam and copied the answer.

After a faculty meeting, it was decided to let the grades stand. The exam was worth 70 per cent of the final grade.

Associate Dean Dr. Chris Levy emphasized the unfortunate nature of the situation but maintained the validity of the process.

“It’s common practice to reuse an old exam but I do think this particular professor was a bit sloppy,” said Levy. “All students had access to the materials on reserve in the library and once it was realized what had happened, they sought to remove it.”

Complications arose later concerning the deferred exam and the five students slated to write it. The professor reused the same exam because every student in December had returned the original question sheet. However, news of the incident had by then been circulated around the faculty, according to Levy.

“There were four people of the five that wrote the deferred exam and it was fairly common knowledge that there was material from that 1990 exam,” he said. “After the four wrote the exam it was found that a copy of it was still available on reserve. Even though someone had checked, for some reason they still missed it.”

Unfortunately for those students writing the deferred examination, the faculty invalidated the test under the acknowledgement that it was unfair to the others. Three of the original five agreed to write a new and different exam, another student’s status is still pending and currently there is one student refusing to write the new test.

“They’re the ones who were shafted,” said Levy of the students required to write a second deferred exam. “Those who rewrote the exam dealt with the situation very maturely.”

Others have felt the situation was overwhelmingly unfair but the majority of students appear to have accepted the situation and are looking to move forward.

“There are only a few students still blowing this out of proportion,” said one first year law student who requested anonymity. “They seem to think it’s a huge deal when really anyone could have gone back and checked the previous exams.”

If the majority of students have a complaint, it is that professors should be putting more effort into the fabrication of final exams.

“For the tuition we’re paying, you think that a prof could manage to write a new final exam, especially when it’s the only class that he’s teaching,” added the same anonymous source.

While most students and faculty members appear to be putting the situation behind them, a meeting is scheduled in February to discuss the matter. It will be determined then whether or not a stronger regulatory structure needs to be put in place regarding the use of old exams.

In light of the circumstances, Levy presented a positive tone.

“It’s a mess, it shouldn’t have happened but now we have to deal with what did happen,” he said.

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