Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ethics, not rocket science 

At Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, there is a debate over about sixty-five professors who have been flagged by the state for taking a mandated ethics exam too fast. (Subscriber link to Chronicle of Higher Ed; an older article in the Carbondale paper.) The exam requires first that a state employee reads a ninety-page manual; some recorded a time for reading and taking the ten-question quiz at less than seven minutes. State officials overseeing the ethics exam are threatening disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. The time requirement is new to the test.
"The fact that I completed the training and quiz quickly is, I believe, proof that I am what I claim to be, and what the State of Illinois pays me to be - a professor of English, well trained and practiced in reading and thinking," [Beth] Lordan wrote in a letter to Executive Inspector General James Wright.

History professor Theodore Weeks said the exams aren't rocket science, hence they don't require much time to complete. Weeks also clocked a finishing time for the exam less than 10 minutes.

"Frankly, we're pretty busy," he said. "We've got students, papers and conferences to deal with. This is basically harassment for political purpose."
So these faculty are told they have to read a manual and sign a statement. This will not be timed.