U of PEI prof offers free grades

Canadian Universities Forum (discussion group)

Subject: U of PEI prof offers free grades
UPEI prof. is disciplined for grading decisions

SACKVILLE, N.B. (CUP) - University of Prince Edward Island lecturer David Weale´s decision to offer a deal to his History of Christianity students whereby those who agreed not to physically attend the course would be granted a B- (70 per cent) for their absence, has been met with disciplinary action from the university, and scorn from many students.
The University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) administration and the UPEI Facutly Association, however, aren´t as enthusiastic about Weale´s approach to class sizes. Weale has been suspended from teaching the course and an investigation into the matter is now underway and could take upward of a month to complete.
Until the investigation is complete, Dr. Joe Velaidum, a professor of religious studies and the director of the UPEI Centre for Christianity and Culture, has replaced him in the classroom.
Under the proposed deal, students still had to pay the registration fee for the class and notify Weale of their intentions via e-mail.
Following a news story carried on the Canadian Broadcasting Commission (CBC) and scrutiny from The Cadre, the university´s student newspaper, the UPEI faculty association released a statement condemning Weale´s decision.
The deal was "a scheme", said Wayne Peters, president of the UPEI Faculty Association in a release, which "would not be tolerated at any university across the country and is certainly not condoned by the Association at UPEI".
According to Peters, there are two possible outcomes of the investigation into Weale´s offer to his students: a letter of warning, or outright dismissal. "Following that, David has the right to ask the union to file a grievance on his behalf," said Peters, noting that the UPEI Faculty Association does not allow individual members to file grievances with their employer.
Peters refused to comment on whether or not the union would agree to file a grievance on Weale´s behalf.
Approximately 20 students accepted Weale´s offer to receive a B- for non-attendance, but many more students at the university are more critical of the idea.
While some students are empathetic to the situation, said Ryan Gallant, president of the UPEI students´ union, most are in agreement with the university.
"He has been a great professor for many years," said Gallant. "But some students find this inexcusable."
According to Gallant, the UPEI Students´ Union will not be involved in the investigation process or the discussions between Weale and the university.
Weale retired in the spring of 2005 and was contracted to teach the course on the History of Christianity on a sessional basis. He has built his reputation as an island historian over 30 years at the University of PEI and published a number of children´s books about island lore.
"He has a knack for interviewing islanders and gathering a thorough history," said Katie MacLeod, an island native. "I guess I consider him a local hero for his historical preservation work."
Weale also ran as an independent candidate in the 1988 federal election on a single-issue platform opposing the fixed link to the mainland.



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