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In this class, everyone gets A+

A controversial scheme that’s more common than universities admit


 

In this class, everyone gets A+At first glance, Denis Rancourt is a self-proclaimed anarchist with a history of causing trouble. Over the past five years, the University of Ottawa professor has unsuccessfully sued his employer for millions of dollars over a cancelled course, claimed that the school’s president is part of a continental Zionist conspiracy, taught a controversial activism course, and denied the existence of climate change. But that’s not why the university says it’s firing him. In a move that’s becoming increasingly popular in post-secondary education, Rancourt decided last year not to grade his students—something that has fuelled a wide-ranging debate not only about his methods but also over academic freedom. And the outcome of his dismissal, which is pending, could change the balance of power between professors and university administrations across the country.

A native of North Bay, Ont., Rancourt has taught at the University of Ottawa for more than 20 years. Colleagues consider him a highly regarded physicist; Rancourt has published more than 100 scientific journal articles. But like a growing number of Canadian university professors, he also believes students learn better when they’re not being graded. In 2008, he was denied permission to make his two fourth-year physics classes “pass-fail,” in which students either get through or they don’t. So he announced that everyone in the classroom was going to get an A+. According to Rancourt, grades are only a means of exercising power in the classroom. “It’s not about optimizing education,” he says, “it’s about obedience.”

The school promptly suspended him, locked him out of his laboratory, and told his graduate students to find new supervisors. (Three of those students are now suing the university for taking away the professor who they say is the only person qualified to oversee their studies.) The university administration also banned him from campus and, in a rare move toward a tenured professor, recommended his dismissal. Two weeks later, while hosting his monthly radical documentary series at the school, Rancourt was arrested by police and charged with trespassing.

The university’s treatment of Rancourt shocked David Noble, a York University professor who says he hasn’t given grades for more than 35 years. For most of his teaching career he gave out straight As—until, in 2006, the university prevailed on him to switch to pass-fail. For decades, he got letters from the university remarking on his “anomalous” grades. “I would usually just throw the letters away,” Noble says. “Nothing ever happened.” Based on decades of educational research, including some of his own as a graduate student, he says there’s no doubt that grades are counterproductive.

In fact, the practice of not marking students is becoming increasingly popular, says Carl Leggo, an education professor at the University of British Columbia. In recent years there has been some “compelling research” proving that students are more creative and more productive when grades are removed. Leggo says courses for UBC’s bachelor of education degree, in addition to many other courses at the university, are pass-fail for the simple reason that students learn better. “Evaluation keeps people feeling quite conservative, and they want to do things in formulaic, traditional ways,” he says. “When the competition for grades and the tension around grades is removed, students actually start studying, researching and writing in more creative ways.” (According to a 2006 study of medical students at the Mayo Medical School, pass-fail systems reduce stress levels and increase group cohesion when compared with students who were given grades on a five-point scale.)

Not only are undergraduate pass-fail courses becoming more common in the face of extensive educational research, but the Stanford, Yale and Berkeley law schools have all recently moved to pass-fail grading systems. Alverno College, a Catholic women’s school in Milwaukee, Wis., hasn’t used grades since 1973. Kathleen O’Brien, the school’s senior vice-president for academic affairs, says the system has been infinitely better for students’ education, self-esteem and long-term prospects. The school will produce grades for graduate school or scholarship applications, but they are then promptly destroyed.

It’s a trend that others, though, find appalling. The idea that a student in a science faculty could earn an A+ without demonstrating knowledge is shocking to John Jones, associate dean of Simon Fraser University’s faculty of applied science. “Our graduates are going to be going out and doing things that human lives depend on. It’s very important that our grading reflects their abilities,” says Jones. Plus, he adds, it wouldn’t just be unconventional, it would be a danger to the public. Marks are not necessarily the best way to judge the skills and talents of each student, he says, “but we can’t build a system on wishful grading.”

Professor Gary Schajer agrees. He’s been an undergraduate adviser for aspiring mechanical engineers at the University of British Columbia for six years, and says the controversy around marks is an old one. In many cases, grades do impede learning, says Schajer. However, they are also the fastest and most effective way to evaluate students’ skills and knowledge, he says. “This is a tightrope all professors have to walk, but that is the unfortunate reality of the world.”

Rancourt and his supporters have opened up another front in the debate, saying that the University of Ottawa’s actions are as much an attack on academic freedom as teaching methods. That argument was dismissed in the New York Times on Feb. 8 by American education expert and law professor Stanley Fish. Rancourt, Fish wrote, was trying “to turn serial irresponsibility into a form of heroism under the banner of academic freedom.” But the Canadian Association of University Teachers has nevertheless struck a committee of inquiry to investigate the case. “Here’s a tenured, full professor, one of the most respected physicists and active researchers at his university, who’s being told he’s not allowed to teach,” says Jim Turk, executive director of the association. “This is an extraordinary situation. The complexity of the issues are so great that we felt we had to set up an independent committee of inquiry to untangle this mess.”

Results from the group, which includes Jeffrey Halpern, one of the leading authorities on academic freedom in North America, are not expected before the end of 2009. But Noble says the real issues behind Rancourt’s dismissal are clear: not just academic freedom but tenure, which is earned after decades of teaching and assessment and provides relatively ironclad job security, are under direct threat. “This has nothing to do with grades,” says Noble. “That’s not why the university is firing Denis Rancourt. They want to see if they can get away with firing tenured professors without cause. For them to send security to escort Rancourt off the campus, as if he were a menace who was running around giving everyone A’s, it’s surreal.”

The University of Ottawa has kept relatively quiet about the case, issuing a press release only after it made headlines. The school’s administration expressed concern that the credibility of marks at the entire institution was being thrown into doubt, which would affect scholarships, admission to graduate programs and ultimately the reputations of both students and the school. The university also said a “significant number of faculty colleagues had voiced concerns” regarding Rancourt’s conduct.

Citing confidentiality and legal obligations, the university has declined further comment. But nearly one-third of Rancourt’s colleagues at the school have signed a petition of complaint against him. For many other professors, including Patrick Deneen, associate professor of government at Washington’s Georgetown University, Rancourt’s actions are nothing more than a blatant abuse of academic freedom. After reading Fish’s article, he was outraged a professor would try to corral students into a movement to undermine the institution and then claim it as an academic right. “It seems to me that what he is doing is actually, ultimately, undermining academic freedom,” says Deneen, adding that he can’t think of any other professions where Rancourt’s actions would be tolerated. “It seems fine to me if you want to denounce the institution, but doing that while taking advantage of all of its rewards seems to me to be a bit of a callous and ungrateful thing.”

The final decision on Rancourt is expected from an executive committee of the university’s board of governors later this month, after one final off-the-record mediation session with the administration on March 17. If he is fired, Leggo says the decision will definitely have a chilling effect on professors who want to try cutting-edge approaches in the classroom. “We have a sense of fear that we can’t actually do what many of us feel we have been called and employed to do, which is to be contemporary professors.” If Rancourt manages to keep his post, radical anarchist professors can breathe a sigh of relief.


 

In this class, everyone gets A+

  1. *************”According to Rancourt, grades are only a means of exercising power in the classroom. “It’s not about optimizing education,” he says, “it’s about obedience.”***********

    How pass/fail is any different? It’s still a form of grading, only with broader categories.

    • “How *is* pass/fail any different?” Sigh, I guess I fail…

    • yeah, i got that sense too Sean; i think most systems of “grading” in play right now are set up to favour something over another. maybe it should be a mixture of both forms of grading–meaning built in checks and balances for both ideals.

  2. It wouldn’t be fair to give everyone an A+, when other students take other classes, actually work hard and don’t get A+ (which are very rare in university). Then all those students have to apply to law school, med school, for masters programs, where grads do matter! How is that fair?

  3. During the Vietnam war, some profs at US universities felt they had a moral obligation to give A’s to all their students, to prevent young men from flunking out and getting drafted.

    I’m not sure that a pass-fail system is more motivational than the traditional grading system. Many university students, like people everywhere else, are essentially lazy. The traditional grading system is what motivates them to study, rather than attend keg parties.

    • I am not sure that is actually true, CR….. even elite institutions like Harvard have ostensibly admitted there are major issues with grading…. nonetheless Rancourt has demonstrated few signs of being dedicated to the project of evolving our university educations systems as opposed to serving his own agenda (whatever that might be).

  4. Just a few more random thoughts (from someone in the middle of grading 160 intro essays!)…

    I can’t speak for the sciences, but most arts and humanities thesis-based graduate degrees are based on a pass/fail system. But the dynamics of undertaking original research and working with a committee and advisor are rather different than undergrad courses.

    I don’t buy the grades=powertrip argument. Unless one completely dodges all responsibility in evaluating students, there will still be times when a student will not measure up to the requirments. Ultimately, profs could just as easily abuse their positions and play power games with students (particularly if there’s a largely fuzzy zone called “pass”).

    The reality already is that giving an upper-level undergrad anything lower than an A- will severely limit that individual’s chances of getting into post-grad programs, so there’s already something of a pass-fail system at work.

    But ultimately, I don’t think it’s all that onerous to require profs to grade students on a letter scale. There’s a heck of a lot more to worry about if our concerns centre upon giving the best educational opportunities possible to our students.

  5. The farce of tenure. Regardless of what one thinks of grading, if tenure can’t protect this guy, it really is nothing but guaranteed employment for the docile.

    • I largely agree, but tenure primarily exists to protect freedom of research. One still has to satisfy the technical requirments of teaching, submitting grades, holding office hours, showing up for lectures, and the like. Grading in accordance with university policy is part and parcel of those ‘technical’ duties, and may not be fairly cast as an issue of academic freedom. (What if a prof decided that the class only needed to meet twice in a term, in lieu of the standard three hours per week? Would that be something tenure ought to protect?)

      • Good point, but I’d say “hours worked” (for employee and students alike) and “means of evaluation” are two separate categories, the latter being a fundamental intellectual question that goes back to Socrates and the former being, well, banausic.

        But I see your point about the distinction between freedom in researching and freedom in teaching. Since teaching and research are so entwined in our culture of higher education, though, it seems a mockery of one to negate the other.

        • I would just add to Sean’s remarks that academic freedom applies to teaching with regard to what is taught, but the professor is still required to meet the university standards with regard to hours of class time and grading systems. They are two separate issues.

          • Not to mention that tenured professors who just “phone it in” make a lot less money than those that are productive researchers. Tenure is about job security, not pay (there is generally a raise with becoming a tenured associate professor, but it isn’t huge, and you could get that raise anyways by being a good researcher).

          • If the teacher doesn’t have discretion as to how to motivate students, the teacher is not free to teach what he/she wants.

            We’ve managed to produce an educational system in North America that is only about grades and not about independent learning. That is a fundamental philosophical issue. Taking action to change that has been severely punished in this case. If that is not an iron fist applied to crush a particular teaching philosophy, what is? Rancourt strayed ever so slightly away from money-grubbing education and he is toast.

      • not much freedom of thought these days it seems. mob rule is everywhere. however, accountability, transparency even amongst the tenured? there’s a novel idea; a grading system for the tenured. but who gets to set and apply the standard?

    • does it ever!

  6. This article completely ignores an important aspect of this case: it is possible that Professor Rancourt and university president Allan Rock are literally the same person. Find out more at rockourtwatch.blogspot.com

  7. I used to wonder when I was studying engineering why it was structured the way it was.
    There had to be a better way, I thought.
    And then I graduated and got a job.
    I found out that the work environment is the same as school.

    One of my instructors gave out one A+ in his class.
    Only one.
    An academic Highlander.
    One got the A+ and the rest were graded down the scale.
    I fought hard and probably put in too much extra effort but that A+ was mine.
    And I got it even though I started that race in second place after the first test.
    There was no way that guy was going to take the prize in a subject that I owned in my mind.
    But I had to prove it.
    And I did.

  8. According to Rancourt, grades are only a means of exercising power in the classroom. “It’s not about optimizing education,” he says, “it’s about obedience.”

    I thought this was very telling about Rancourt’s attitudes; it indicates to me that he is very much wrapped up in issues of power and obedience. If he had to grade,then he would have to reveal his reasoning behind his judgment, and this would, I am guessing, represent some ceding of power.

    I have no experience of academia, but in my work experience, I have learnt that an effective way for managers to exercise control is NOT to tell their reports how they are doing in an open ongoing dialogue, but just drop the hammer with the bonus and no or minimal explanation.

    Sounds like pass/fail to me.

  9. And when I said “effective”, I should have added that it is also arbitrary and very frustrating to work under. Of course, it may work for education, but Rancourt is hiding his motives, in my humble opinion.

  10. Regardless of his ideological motives, Dr. Rancourt isn’t doing his undergrads any favours by handing out straight A’s to all of his students. Most university transcripts list the class average next to the grade an individual student recieves in the class, and graduate programs pay close attention to that average when selecting prospective students for their programs (at least in the social sciences – although I presume it’s the same in Physics). I’ve worked with undergrad professors who were very concerned about maintaining a “normal” grade curve (usually in the 68-72 range) in order to ensure that their courses are taken seriously by graduate selection committees when their students apply to outside programs. It’s entirely likely that Rancourt’s course (along with Noble’s over at York) are dismissed as “bird” courses by selection committees, since not everyone can possibly possess the mastery of the subject that an A+ (should) require. This in turn lessens the likelihood that his students will actually be able to gain admission to graduate programs, at least in comparison to students who have grades that actually reflect their academic ability.

    • “at least in comparison to students who have grades that actually reflect their academic ability.”

      And where, perchance, are those? In the Ivy Leagues, grade inflation has simply destroyed any correlation between grades and ability; admission to grad programs etc. is based on a) a near-perfect GPA (anything less raises eyebrows, in light of grade inflation), b) the school’s name, c) letters of recommendation. Grades are so passé.

      • Actually, a B+ to A- average (usually around 76-80) is the pre-req for getting into most Canadian graduate programs in the social sciences. And in Canada, unlike the US, there isn’t the same sort of Ivy League-state school split, although I admit that some undergraduate programs are more highly regarded than others (and that changes over time, depending on, among other things, who’s teaching at a particular school at any given time ). Letters of recommendation are important, but the strength of the endorsement is often the deciding factor, not the name at the bottom (I, for example, was accepted as a grad student at a big name central Canadian university on the basis of two strong letters written by non-tenured profs from a university in Atlantic Canada, where I did my undergrad).

        As to your question, I would have to say that the criteria for high achievement in a course varies depending on the class structure and material involved. Lecture courses are meant to help students learn the basics, and in those instances, it’s largely a matter of memorization and regurgitation. While I realize that doesn’t sound like a good way to foster critical thinking, it’s meant to ensure that students have a basic level of knowledge, which they’ll need to conduct the critical analysis expected of them in upper-year seminar courses. Seminar courses are largely marked based on the ability of students to interact with the literature/topic under discussion, either in conversation with the prof during class or in analytical papers. And yes, some students are better at doing that kind of critical thinking than others, and their grades should reflect that. A pass/fail system doesn’t tell you anything about a student’s relative analytical ability, which is important for post-undergrad work, which is a lot less memorization and a lot more analysis and independent research. So, while grades may be seen by some as passe, I’ve found they tend to reflect the relative ability of the student to complete the tasks required of them in university, and are often a good indicator of how a student will perform at higher levels of academia.

        As a final thought, I agree with your comment about grade inflation being a negative thing – the Ontario high school system seems rather bad for that, and it creates unrealistic expectations in students when they get to university. However, if you also think it’s a bad thing, then you should be opposed to what Rancourt is doing, since it’s grade inflation of the most blatant kind (although I assume he would justify it on ideological grounds as fighting the hegemonic discourse in academia). As I said in my first post, this doesn’t help his students later on in their academic careers, since any prof can look at a transcript and see that he’s not marking according to academic ability, and the mark that the student recieved tells you nothing about the degree of knowledge that individual has regarding the material.

        • I can’t disagree with anything you say, but to my mind the ability or willingness of the student to complete coursework (lecture course or seminar), and be accurately evaluated on that basis, is not the issue.

          As hosertohoosier remarks below, discretionary marking on the part of professors is almost a thing of the past. A student getting a below-average grade is liable to appear at a professor’s office door in tears, often accompanied by a parent and/or lawyer. Why? Because by and large undergraduate education is a make-work exercise to see who is “deserving” of promotion into the middle class, and there is a correlation between grades and eventual income — that is the whole point of university. Thus a sub-par grade is perceived as a breakdown in the contractual relationship between the tuition-payer and the school. The inevitable result is grade inflation (though this is often kept at a respectable level, esp. outside the Ivy Leagues) and all but automatic passing grades (at a minimum; you would have to try hard to fail a class). This is corrupting, because, as hosertohoosier again says below, most students develop Pavlovian responses to tests and quizzes and exams: if it’s not gradeable, it’s not worth learning — a message the universities tacitly endorse.

          What Rancourt was doing was shock therapy to try and get the students to start thinking independently, without reference to grades and eventual income. And by all accounts it worked. Admittedly it was an advanced class with good students, but at least it’s a good first step to breaking the yoke of Mammon. In my opinion this should be coupled with discretionary grading on the part of the professor, lower tuition fees on a per-course basis (though perhaps not on the year), and a far higher failure rate. Essentially if you can’t show a prof that you are zealously motivated to learn for the sake of learning, you should fail.

          • I won’t deny that some students at university seem to believe that they are owed high grades by the university. However, I disagree with your contention that they are capable of bullying profs (or TAs) into raising their grades. A student, with lawyer or without, has very little leverage over a prof – unless they can prove some allegation of misconduction all they can threaten to do is withdraw from the program, which doesn’t affect the lecturer in any substantive way. Also, it’s been my experience that students tend to back off once you make it clear why they recieved the grade they did and that you’re not changing it – most of them are unwilling to directly challenge the person who marked them (and could mark them again in the future).

            As to the implicit contractual arrangement that you see between universities and students, all I can say is that the average grade across Canada in second year courses in my discipline in 68-72, which will not get you into a post-undergrad programme (academic, law or otherwise), which suggests universities are a bit more rigorous than you seem to suggest in their marking schemes. You are correct in observing that it’s hard to fail, but let’s face it, a 51 (my usual “marginal-fail” grade on an assignment) is little better than a 45, since you won’t go anywhere with enough of those on your transcript. I suppose it doesn’t matter if you go directly into the workforce after undergrad, but if you do, a straight BA probably isn’t gonna take you all that far anyways.

            You are right about the tendency of undergrads to tailor their studying of material for exams to what they think is relevant to answering the question, but that’s the point of exams. Exams serve a purpose because students generally need to learn the sort of material that appears on them, and putting it on an exam ensures they actually study it. The prevalance of exams tends to drop the higher you go in university, and that’s when you see students doing more analytical research (which is what I assume you mean by “learning for its own sake”).

            Also, I personally don’t think it’s wrong to explicitly recognize that people go to university to increase their job prospects – why else would you spend 4 – 10 years of your life paying tuition, accumulating debt and losing out on the income you could make by doing something else? To a large extent, university programs are meant to foster skills, which you then transfer to something outside of the ivory tower. I can read Shakespeare on my own time – I don’t need someone to assign it for me. I do, however, want the accreditation that a university degree bestows, and the grades that demonstrate my relative standing among those who came into contact with the same material and were evaluated under the same criteria. Rancourt isn’t doing that, and he’s doing his students a disservice by not doing so, regardless of his motivation.

            Also, as an aside, what do you suppose would have happened if the arbitrary grade he assigned was a D rather than an A+? Personally, I suspect the vast majority of students would have dropped the course, which suggests that they may have had other motives in mind than a sustained commitment to learning for its own sake when they chose to stick it out in his little experiment.

          • All I can say is that the system at present, which you so eloquently endorse, is a machine for cranking out venal clones. Of course some free spirits slip through, but we shouldn’t be surprised if we are way behind in science, technology, and art when we encourage students, at every step of their undergraduate experience, to focus only on the bottom line of money / accreditation / etc. The dulling of the intellect involved in the conveyor-belt model of education may help the ordinary student, but it stifles and discourages the best of them. In the absence of money to compete with US schools (in research and hiring), Canada needs a new philosophy of education, not the same old trusted and true system that has served us so poorly.

        • my observation is that maybe what Rancourt is doing doesn’t *presently* help students work the system in which we all live. maybe that’s the underlying problem; a very rigid, out-of-date “system” that kills certain types of creativity and true advancement and values/rewards certain narrow types of thinking on the other hand; one should be able to climb the ladder sideways (Peter Principle) as well as up and down; might lend better balance and perspective to the “system”.

  11. …it’s like going to Carleton. HA!

  12. Rancourt’s approach is clearly wrong. University isn’t just about learning, it is also about sorting people according to their abilities. Since high schools largely pass the buck on that front (opening up students to heartbreak when they find out they are in fact not going to be doctors despite a 95% in high school bio), it is left up to universities.

    Imagine a thought experiment where all students had no grades (or even pass/fail grades).
    Who would get the jobs, grad school admissions, etc.?
    1. People lucky enough to get their resumes snatched out of a massive pile. If you can’t differentiate by grades or other measures of academic merit, you have to let everybody apply.
    2. People with connections and networking skills that are often not pertinent to job performance.
    3. Related to two, white males, or whatever group most benefits from structural prejudices.
    4. It is also possible that markets would attempt to provide an alternative to grades, like standardized tests. It is unlikely that whatever one got on such a test would be a more accurate indicator of ability than 4 years worth of university grades. Or that any test could capture substantial nuances.

    On the other hand Rancourt does have a point – kind of. When I TA’ed, there would be a few brilliant “remind me of me” kids that always listened, and a whole bunch more that were half asleep – until I would say something like “and this might be on a test.” Students care about grades. Students care about grades because the criteria universities look at require students to either be very smart, or very grade-driven.

    Grades DO make it harder to teach. Students start picking out how they learn based on how to game the test, rather than out of genuine interest (“he is only going to ask to do 4 out of 5 questions so I don’t have to learn about X”). Actually standardized tests are even worse – they give us the students who basically want me to tell them some list of facts, which they will memorize and spew out on the test.

    I think the other major problem is that grades are a self-esteem issue, and they are a self-esteem issue BECAUSE of grade inflation. On the level of the individual, artificially inflating a student’s grade improves their self-esteem – they think they are smarter than they really are (as do their parents, who were graded on a stricter curve). However, when that happens on a massive scale, you get a result where a lot of students are at the top of the grade pool. This may be part of why so many Gen-Y students think they are of above average intelligence (78% according to one survey I saw). Students believe they are “above average” and it provides them with a sense of self-worth – a fleeting sense once universities or real life come along and take it all away. The clustering at the top also means that among the many students at the top (the university-bound) they are usually separated from each other by very small gaps – 1 or 2%. So even arbitrary things like rounding can make a difference if one is on the cutoff. This is even worse in the United States where an A- is a 90.

    So how can we mitigate Rancourt’s problem? I think a few solutions could work. Firstly, we need to tackle grade inflation in universities AND high schools. It is bad for the student and bad for the country. Second, I think more opportunities for “discretionary” grades (eg. participation marks) would help mitigate the problem that students only do the bare minimum. We should also limit or reduce the number of semestered classes. U of T is one of the few places I know of with year-long (September to April) classes. A longer time period under one syllabus enables and advantages conceptual learning over rote memorization. The students that get the concepts will do far better than students that have to re-memorize all the facts before the final exam. It is also more efficient because there is less overlap. Finally, lets kill any class so large it requires scan-tron tests, or, if we have such classes, make sure they have tutorials. Being forced to discuss ideas will make students more likely to learn beyond the bare minimum, lest they look stupid in front of their peers.

  13. i guess the professor has gotten an “F” for Fail. all grading is subjective; out in the *real* world i wonder if ppl “grade” so blatantly; i think it is more like pass/fail; the awarding of grades can be so artificial at times. if they’re so concerned about “people’s lives” being at stake, then i think it’s more important to demonstrate that you have some capacity or proficiency and comfort with a topic or course of study (like, you have to *get* it) rather than simply passing yourself off as “smart” because you have the inherent ability to be a “wet HD” “Johnny Mnemonic” info courier.

    maybe this whole thing is more fitting as an argument about changing values and traditions or the shifting balance of power away from all sides and the old way of doing things from a less autocratic to a more democratic model than anything else.

    determining intelligence and grading are highly subjective (gender, skin tone, appearance), having nothing to do with demonstrated skill and ability and knowledge and often everything to do with the hubris and expectation of conformity to a certain prejudice (belief/disbelief in G-d, superiority/inferiority of a type of person/their features, e.g.) on the part of the one who professes to know and impart knowledge–by the one who can virtually hold your academic, and by extension, economic future hostage.

    if many more profs and teachers were less attached to or in invested in their need to control/imprint their own needs/ego/ideals on their students and showed more interest in developing the minds within reach of their influence to be independent minds then i’d have more faith in the legitimacy of one side of the argument over the other posed in this article. no one’s innocent in this.

    the article (and presumably some of his committee-forming colleagues) certainly seems to try to slant reader opinion against Rancourt by listing less-than-savoury aspects about the “pass fail” professor: you know, that he’s a conspiracist, anarchist, activist, climate change denier, etc, etc. and i thought universities were centres of free thought no matter how silly one might consider that thought to be. tsk tsk! Nice “Rick Roll” but a Very Epic Fail on that!

    altho i do wonder if this isn’t a underhanded subliminal for us not to be so hard on a certain “trained” economist who couldn’t cut it at the U of T; with the added intention for us to snub the interim (read, vastly more capable) Liberal leader who did. oh, that’ll work! NOT.

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