Sick-Outs Decrease With Tighter Rules

The rate of undergraduates sicking-out of exams declined drastically this exam period from last year's statistics, University Health Services (UHS) officials said yesterday. Through Wednesday's exams--with two days left to go--officials had recorded a drop of 23.5 per cent, to 280 students compared to 366 at the same point last January.

Officials offered a variety of explanations for the decline, most centering on tighter rules to discourage unnecessary sic-outs. Since January 1980, asterisks have been placed on transcripts next to grades attained by students who took make-up exams.

And beginning this exam period, under a rule approved by the Faculty in September, student with make-up exams or extensions in two or more courses must obtain permission from the Administrative Board before registering for the next term.

"The new policy lays the reality bare for the students," Dr. Warren E.C. Wacker, director of UHS, said yesterday.

John R. Marquand, assistant dean of the College, pointed to the rescheduling of make-up exams before spring break rather than after it, as has been done in the past. "Perhaps students are more inclined to face up to the pain now than to put it off until March," he added.

Nancy S. Kollman, senior tutor in Mather House, said that she has publicized the new "double policy" as well as the rescheduling of make-up exams in the house newsletter. "These new steps are probably acting as deterrents," she said.

A currier House sophomore who had sicked out last year said that he considered doing it again this year but, owing to the administration's tighter measures, he decided against it. "My record was already so bad that I did not want the Ad Board reviewing my case," he said.

Dean Fox said his office has, as in the past, sent a letter to all physicians and nurse practioners urging them to inform students that the grades on make-up exams tend to be significantly lower.

"There has been a lag in the asterisk policy, "Dean Fox said, adding that "it does take a few terms to take effect." "Students who have one asterisk don't want another one," he said.

"The decline in the sick-out rate is probably a coalescence of the new two-course requirement and the footnote policy," Dean Fox said. "There's always a fair amount of talk about sicking out but nobody advocates taking a make-up exam," he added. "No matter how crummy your feeling, it's better to get it over with," he said.

"It's like the bean in the nose story," Wacker said. "A mother gave her son money to buy a pound of beans and told him not to put them up his nose, thus giving him the idea of doing it." "Sicking out is learned behavior," he added.