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Gov Juniors Ask to Drop Essay; Faculty to Vote on Grade Changes

By Deborah B. Johnson

Students presented a petition to Samuel P. Huntington, Frank G. Thomson Professor of Government and chairman of the Government Department, asking that the junior essay be dropped this year. The petition was signed by 144 of the 189 students in Gov 98.

The students have decided, however, to ask that the Government faculty decrease the influence the essay will have on the final grade--50 per cent in the past--instead of eliminating the exam altogether.

Jack D. Burke '70, one of the four students who spoke with Huntington, said that they changed their demand because there was not enough time for the faculty to drop the exam. The faculty will meet on Monday, which is the first day of the four-day take-home junior essay exam. Huntington will present the petition, along with a statement from the students asking that the essay's influence be lessened.


The faculty has already decided to eliminate the junior essay starting next year. "The general feeling of the department was that doing away completely with the essay would take considerable restructuring of Gov 98," Huntington said, explaining why the exam was not eliminated this year.

Students have asked to have it dropped this year because events of the first weeks of April made the four days in reading period more necessary for catching up on lost studying time. They also feel that the essay has been discredited since the faculty has decided not to give it again.

Because of the lost time, many tutors have told their tutees in advance the questions they are submitting for the essay. Other students have complained that the exam will now be unfair because some people will be better prepared than others, although all of the essays will be graded by the same committee, none of whose members are tutors.

Huntington said that he sent letters to tutors on Monday asking how much their students knew about the question in advance. "It was not to check up on the tutors--there was some misunderstanding about the junior essay this year," Huntington said. The grading committee will be able to tell whether the student walked in cold or if he was prepared," he added.

Huntington is also asking the tutors to submit a more detailed evaluation of the students than in the past, including how much work had been done in tutorial.

Frank G. Hutchins, assistant professor of Government and Head Tutor in the department, said yesterday that, although the junior essay officially counts for one half the final Gov 98 grade, the mark submitted by a tutor is rarely altered by more than half a grade.

Hutchins announced a meeting of all students in Gov 98 in Winthrop JCR tonight at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the grading of the exam

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