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A grade worse than F?
Kylie Tielke
Antelope Staff

That's right! Universities around the country are now adopting the FD grade to create a record of shame for students involved in academic dishonesty.

The FD grade, created in May by British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University, refers to “failed with academic dishonesty.” This grade— worse than an F— can be given to students who intentionally or repeatedly cheat.
There is one catch; the determination of whether a student receives a FD is dependent on the department chair.

“The FD grade is reserved for the department head, not for an individual professor. This way, individual professors cannot hang the grade over students’ heads in a power play,” said Martha Kruse, associate professor and chair of the English department.
Dr. Rob Gordon, acting chair of the Senate Committee on Academic Integrity at SFU, said in an interview with CTV News of British Columbia, that the new grade is intended to “curtail cheating using the Internet,” and department chairs can impose the FD grade if they feel the incident warrants a severe penalty.

The most harmful effect is that the FD grade remains on a student’s transcript for two years, according to Kruse.

“This means that if you apply for a job or grad school, anyone looking at your transcripts and anyone who knows what the FD grade means is then aware that there is a problem,” Kruse said.

According to Kruse, there are two schools of thoughts about this issue. First, that there should be a stigma for dishonesty, and the FD grade on your transcript for two years could be very harmful. In addition, if dishonesty was so intentional as to merit censure, perhaps expulsion is a more appropriate choice.

According to the SFU Web site, the new grade was introduced to create an effective policy on academic integrity matters across the university that shows a zero tolerance approach to cheating.

“The FD grade looks at the intent. It is one thing to forget to cite, for example, but another to buy a paper or hand in another student’s work,” Kruse said.

According to Kruse, UNK does have other internal mechanisms to deal with cheating or plagiarism.

“If we have evidence that the student is a repeat offender or that it is not accidental, we do have internal ways on campus of dealing with this,” Kruse said.

It is obvious that a FD grade is the last thing students would want on their transcripts, but this new grade does show the seriousness of cheating within universities.

“Most look at plagiarism among younger students as an academic offense but also as a teachable moment,” Kruse said.

According to one UNK student, the FD grade may not be such a bad idea.

“When you are out in the workforce competing for jobs like we soon will be, why should some people get jobs when they cheat— when I didn’t cheat, especially in such a competitive job market?” said Spencer Wolfe, a junior theater major from Lincoln.

According to Wolfe, the new FD grade is a great way to distinguish those who cheat from those who try hard and put a lot of work into school.

Another UNK student, Kurt Dummer, a senior construction management major from Spencer, disagrees.

“I don’t believe we should adopt this grade. Receiving an F should be sufficient without placing a label on the student. We are all adults and responsible for our own decisions,” Dummer said.

Presently, UNK has not adopted the new grade. According to Kruse, until this becomes a possibility at UNK, she is looking at both sides. Because it is a new grade, Kruse said it would be a while before UNK adopts it, if at all.

“The idea of this grade is to say, ‘this can follow you for a while,’ and this could be the deal breaker for some,” Kruse said.

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