Students Address Board of Inquiry On English Exam

Two students who took English 166 this fall presented a petition to the Commission of Inquiry yesterday asking it to judge whether grades in the exam are given fairly.

Linda G. Sexton '75 and Philip E. Clapp '75, both Mather residents, said in their grievance that Robert J. Kiely, professor of English and master of Adams House, gave a limited number of students an edge on the exam when he revealed its format and two questions during a review section in Adams House last Thursday.

Their three-page statement to George F. Carrier, chairman of the commission and Coolidge Professor of Applied Math, concludes, "Consequently, we request that the Commission investigate the matter to insure that all students are graded in an equitable fashion."

"The Commission should decide whether or not exam grades should be annulled," Sexton said last night. She added that if exam grades among Adams residents in English 166 were higher, "that would be pretty concrete evidence."

Sexton said that if the Adams House grades were not higher, she would not argue for annulment of exam grades.


Grades will be released Friday.

"If they don't show a difference I still don't condone what Kiely did," she said. "But we want to set an example so that professors will be more cautious in what they're revealing and not just hope that everyone finds out."

Clapp, Sexton, and Robert Kaneda '75 signed the statement, but only the first two will proceed with the matter.

Clapp and Sexton will meet with Kiely tonight privately. Sexton said last night that they offered to meet with him in a private letter to the instructor.

The petitioners allege that Kiely divulged three pairs of authors' names which appeared in separate questions on the exam, during the review section and in subsequent private meetings with students.

The plaintiffs wrote that Kiely had told the whole class in the last lecture "only that the final examination would be difficult and that a passing grade depended upon careful reading of twelve novels on the reading list."

They said that an agreement to hold a review section in Adams House was an eleventh hour decision and that it had been advertised only in Adams House.

"Because the format and content of the examination were revealed to a group of students so small in relation to the size of the course, this is a case of discrimination against a large number of undergraduates," they wrote.

In a letter to The Crimson Monday, Kiely said, "In my judgment, the specific information I gave out made a general educational point but did not provide an unfair advantage to those who heard it."

Yesterday he added, "There's just a misunderstanding. When all the facts and grades are in, that'll be very clear."

Kiely said grades in Adams House will not be weighted because of what he said at the review section.

"We certainly pay attention to how things look, but the section instructors are under no instructions in their grading policy," he added.

The commission will not consider whether to hear the complaint until next week after Carrier returns to Cambridge.

David L. Johnson '74 and John G. Holmes, a graduate student in environmental engineering--student members of the commission--declined to say yesterday whether the complaint fell within the domain of the commission.

Martin A. Shefter, associate professor of Government, also refused to guess whether the grievance would be heard