Officials debate REG stamp issue

By Katrina Kelly

Although months have passed since the suspected illegal registration of more than 100 NIU students into spring 1988 classes using a fraudulent “REG” stamp, disagreement continues about the restoration of class credit and grades by the NIU Judicial Office in some of the registration cases.

In a memo last Wednesday to Judicial Office Director Larry Bolles and seven other NIU administrators, Sue Doederlein, assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, states, “When the Judicial Office defined as a ‘sanction’ the forfeiture of academic credit, that office imposed a sanction that was not within its purview (authority).

“The granting and rescinding of credit is solely an academic prerogative and responsibility,” the memo continues.

Doederlein said faculty policy is the overriding policy in the illegal registration issue. “Faculty have initial authority and ultimate final authority over grades,” she said.

Bolles said each case was heard individually and the judicial office was “not issuing grades, but issuing sanctions” based on each student’s individual circumstances.

The sanctions imposed in some cases of illegal registration included the restoration of class credit, depending on the circumstances, Bolles said. “Just because people are identified (as illegally registered) doesn’t mean they are guilty,” he said.

A Sept. 1 memo from NIU Associate Provost Lou Jean Moyer to NIU deans states 113 cases of suspected fraudulent enrollment were handled by the Judicial Office.

Of these, 24 cases were dismissed for lack of evidence; 29 students pleaded guilty, lost credit for the class and did not appeal the sanction; 16 students pleaded not guilty, and 44 students pleaded guilty and appealed the sanction(s), the memo states.

“It is now important to complete the hearings, process the sanctions, and most importantly, to establish a process that wil be in place in the event a similar situation arises in the future,” Moyer stated in the memo.

Bolles called the illegal registration issue “a problem that doesn’t fit in any system.

“There is probably a better way to handle it (cases of illegal registration). At the time, this was the best way to do it,” he said.

NIU communications studies Professor Charles Larson had considered filing a class action lawsuit against NIU in protest of the Judicial Office actions.

NIU Student Regent Nick Valadez said, “I will resist any effort by Larson to reduce the grade or delete credit for students found innocent (by the NIU judicial process).

“There are situations where the NIU judicial process supercedes what (grade) the instructor may give for a course. Nowhere does it say a teacher may decide who is (registered) in a class.

“I don’t think Larson has a gripe. His responsibility is to teach, not to decide who registered correctly,” Valadez said.

An attorney representing the University Professionals of Illinois union, which had unanimously recommended to support the filing of the lawsuit, later advised Larson to pursue his complaint through the NIU faculty grievance process.