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Med Students, In Protest, Will Refuse to Sign Exam

By Philip Weiss

Over 85 per cent of the first-year Medical School class will refuse to sign their blue-books at an exam tomorrow morning in an attempt to force the implementation of pass-fail grading, a member of the class said yesterday.

The protest is in reaction to what the med students consider abuse by the Med School faculty of the four-point grading system, according to the student, who wished to remain anonymous.

He said that 140 of the 162 students in the class have signed a petition committing themselves to the protest. Those students will number, rather than sign, their examination books.

The expected result of the protest, the student said, will be the posting of the numbers paired with their respective grades, either "excellent," "pass," "marginal," or "fail."

After the posting, the student said, only those students who have failed will report their names, forcing the faculty to record a mark of "pass" before all other students' names.

Dr. Thomas H. Wilson, professor of Physiology, is administering the exam at which the protest is planned. "I don't think it's a surprise that students don't like grades," he said yesterday. "But I really can't anticipate what is going to happen. One thing they might do is just talk with the faculty."

The student said the marking system with its ratings of marginal and excellent was originally seen as a slight variation on a pass-fail system, with students considering the "marginal" rating as a warning to the few students who bordered on failure.

However, the results of an exam last month showed a 14-per-cent marginal rate and a 6-per-cent incidence of failure. The curve for the test made all grades from 85 to 93 passing.

The student said the eight-point spread was too small and that the 80 to 85 range for the marginal mark was too large. "The marginal people were required to make up all this mickey mouse stuff during vacations, people were really unhappy, and that's why we got so much support," he said.

Furthermore, the student said, the 6-per-cent failure rate is three times greater than the normal rate for Med School tests. "We don't see any reason why this class should be any stupider than the past ones," he said.

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