Speaking of grading…

…it’s not really good to farm out your grading tasks to a person who is not an employee of your university, as one faculty member at  IU-South Bend apparently has done:

Professor Otis B. Grant faces sanctions as a result of student complaints that he allowed a nonemployee to grade student work and access student academic records, a potential violation of federal privacy laws.

Students also complained that Grant used foul language in class, improperly canceled classes and dismissed two students from a course without due process.

The investigation did not determine the identity of Riane Hunter, the name used by a woman who identified herself as Grant’s graduate assistant. Students said she graded and signed their academic papers and sent instructions to the class from Grant’s campus e-mail address.

No one named Riane Hunter is employed by IUSB or has ever been enrolled at any IU campus, according to IU administrators. Students said Grant referred to a woman named Riane Hunter as his graduate assistant for several years, but no student has come forward who met her in person.

Indeed, some of the IUSB administrators are not even sure if “Riane Hunter” even exists. Read the whole article, which describes even more lurid behavior, such as summarily expelling students from a course and refusing to let students see their final exams. And yet, he was granted tenure and even won teaching awards as recently as 2005. If any one of those allegations are true, is it any wonder that the general public has such a negative view of higher education?

Ironically, Prof. Grant teaches “law and society” and affiliates himself with the “Institute for the Study of Race, Law and Public Policy” and the “Center for Leadership, Law and Culture”. The latter appears to be fictitious, based on newspaper investigation. The former has a web site here with almost nothing on it, with the exception of Prof. Grant’s credentials, which describe him as “a critical socio-legal theorist and psychoanalyst whose work focuses on the intersection of culture, jurisprudence, leadership and power” with “a particular interest in legal (un)consciousness”.

Indeed, you’d have to be pretty legally unconscious to think that you can hire out your grading and evaluations to a non-employee of the university and not violate FERPA in a hundred different ways.


Filed under Higher ed, Life in academia, Teaching

6 responses to “Speaking of grading…

  1. philosopherP

    I wonder if the TA doesn’t actually exist, but instead the guy was doing his own grading and putting complaints off on this immaginary person… it would be weird, but not a violation of FERPA.

  2. I almost said something in the article about that. Grade the way you want; then if students complain, tell them that you’re so sorry that they were graded so tough and that you’ll take the issue up immediately with your “graduate assistant”. That’s kind of brilliant, actually.

  3. margotmarrakesh

    If that’s so, what a coward!

  4. FERPA regulations indicate that a violation occurs if the school “has a policy or practice ” that leads to disclosure of student education records without student consent. Therefore, if the school can prove that the instructor violated a school policy, or if the school successfully disciplines him, thereby officially showing its disapproval of his practices, the school would probably not be found in violation of FERPA.

  5. Do IU’s branch campuses have different administrative policies? You cannot expel a student from a class at IUB. You can file charges with the Dean of Students office, but the ball is then in their court, not yours.

  6. I think that’s the gist of the problem with this professor — he was expelling students from classes himself, summarily, without due process. (Or even informing them of why he was doing it, apparently.)