The Need for YU Faculty Integrity Standards

By: Zachary Greenberg  |  October 29, 2020

By Zachary Greenberg

Academic integrity is something that the Sy Syms School of Business administration has stressed a lot recently. Many of the recent emails sent by the Deans continuously state the importance and value of having integrity, both in terms of morality and even more so as Jews. The emails only emphasize that such values should be incumbent on students. However, this expectation of academic integrity should not just be on the students, but should be applied to the faculty as well.

The final exam for a Quantitative Statistics course offered in the spring was graded mostly on two long answer questions which were, as one student in the class described, “absolutely unanswerable from everything that he taught.” He went on to say, “the questions were random nonsense and not mathematically correct.” That very student even went to the professor afterwards for an explanation as to how to solve the problems, and it was clear that there were no correct solutions. The final was open notes, yet no one in the class got over a 90% and no one got the answers correct. Grades were based entirely on how well the professor thought “your gibberish” was close to what he was thinking. 

In a summer course with the same Quant Professor, the midterm was scheduled for Monday, June 13. The Professor, though, continued teaching all the way through Friday, June 10. Despite the course’s difficulty, he gave students only ONE full day of studying (excluding Sabbath). Not even considering the complexity of the course, it is ridiculous to expect students with one day to properly prepare half a semester ‘s worth of content. The professor should have ended teaching a day or two earlier, or made the midterm on Wednesday, June 15 to give students ample time to prepare. 

The administration made a push to have more assignments throughout the semester, arguing it would make it easier for the students to know what they should focus on come exam time. A brilliant idea, but what is the point if the professors don’t give the graded assignments back before the exam? One BIMA faculty member assigned a midterm project, but didn’t give the grade back until after Finals, leaving students completely in the dark as to what their grade range would be until they received their letter grade. It’s absurd to hold students accountable to submitting homework and exams on time, but not have any sort of accountability on faculty for giving grades back on time.

Additionally, multiple students have reported one specific marketing professor who would refuse to meet with them. The professor went as far as telling one student they were not allowed to send a follow up email after his declining to meet with them. 

This isn’t just a problem in Syms. In YC, one history professor refused to let students use the restroom during class. A student related how that professor expected the class to read over 50 pages of reading for each lesson on extremely boring and sexually vulgar articles. Furthermore, there were no laptops allowed in the class except when a student had an accommodation, and even still, he made sure to make the student feel bad for using it. The class started out with nearly 20 students, but by the last day to add a class date just two weeks later, that number had dropped to six. 

There are, however, a large share of the faculty who do show great integrity in their teaching styles, and should be commended and made known to the rest of the faculty. One entrepreneurship professor reviews each exam four times in order to find ways to give students more points. He even started mid-semester feedback surveys long before it was implemented across the board. 

Even so, there are still too many professors who lack the academic integrity standards that are demanded of the students. Just like students are held to a high academic integrity standard, so should the professors. Don’t you think so?