May 5-May 9, 2003:
Exam week at the University of Northern Colorado
UNC Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Robert Dunkley gives his students a take home exam which includes a question about criminal activity in the Iraq War (the exact wording of the question is in dispute).
An unnamed student informant challenges the failing grade she received on the exam. She maintains throughout these proceedings and afterward that the question asked her to “explain why George Bush is a war criminal.” She claims that when she instead wrote an essay explaining why former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was a war criminal, she received an “F” on the exam.
Professor Dunkley later claims to have destroyed all copies of the exam around this date (which is in violation of University of Northern Colorado policy).
Late summer/early fall 2003:
In response to our student informant’s appeal, Dunkley produces a version of the exam question that he claims to have received from a few students who had kept it in their files after the exam. Our student informant continues to maintain that she remembers the question differently and that Dunkley modified the question after the fact to make it look less politically biased to the appeals committee.
After appealing her grade through UNC’s grievance procedure, the student informant receives a B in Dunkley’s class. She later writes to Ryan Call of the appeal that “I did fail the final exam, at least that is what I was told, however based on Dunkley’s and the schools comments you never really know what is truthful. It has always been my understanding and my story that I got an F on the exam but a B in the class. I dont think Dunkley disputed that but he is such a maniupulative person you never really know.”
Erin Bergstom, a volunteer activist for Students for Academic Freedom, makes contact with our student informant. Bergstrom describes the informant in a March 2005 statement as “a warm and personable young woman. She is articulate, and seems intelligent and sincere.”
In Bergstrom’s words, the young woman “described her criminology professor, and how he asked her and her classmates to describe why President Bush is a war criminal on an exam. She did not believe that her test question was fair or reasonable. She was not willing to dishonor her President-someone she greatly admired. Instead, she wrote why she considered Saddam Hussein to be a war criminal. The professor gave her a zero on her test. She was an “A” student, so she formally appealed, but was not able to change her grade.”
Bergstrom reports the incident to Ryan Call, a coordinator for Students for Academic Freedom and law student at the University of Denver who relays it to David Horowitz. Horowitz retells the incident in speeches and interviews to demonstrate the severity of indoctrination in higher education.
September 9, 2004:
University of Northern Colorado President Kay Norton confirms existence of student informant’s complaint, though she claims that the young woman’s portrayal of the question differs from what she presented as the actual question.
Norton states:”…and actually last year, a young woman did raise a question about what she thought was an inappropriate examination question, I referred her to our procedures, she followed them, and I’m pleased to report to you that the original version of what would have been an inappropriate examination question proved not to be what was actually on the examination, and so the process worked.”
March 3, 2005
An article by Mano Singham in the Cleveland Plain Dealer questions whether Horowitz made up the UNC story since Singham couldn’t immediately locate the student or professor through a cursory search.
March 7, 2005
March 14, 2005
Ryan Call, SAF’s Central Regional Coordinator, issues a statement saying that he has spoken with the informant who is now a senior at UNC and wishes to remain anonymous, but confirms the initial story which she relayed to Erin Bergstrom. Call offers to speak to any members of the media who have doubts.
March 15, 2005
SAF Volunteer Erin Bergstrom issues a statement confirming that she initially interviewed the informant and relayed her story to Students for Academic Freedom.
March 18 2005:
Ryan Call of Students for Academic Freedom said he requested a copy of the exam from UNC but was told it was confidential. The exam was provided to members of the media. Call, a third-year law student at the University of Denver, said UNC refused to give him a copy of the exam, citing privacy laws. He said the student was also unable to get a copy of the exam and has never seen her test. UNC spokeswoman Gloria Reynolds claimed to have no record of Call’s request.
March 22, 2005:
In an interview with the Greeley Tribune, Dunkley admits to destroying the student informant’s original answer sheet along with all other copies of the exam. The Greeley Tribune reports that Dunkley then “got copies of the questions from three former students to present for the student’s appeal.”
March 28, 2005:
After repeated requests, an administrator from UNC finally provides SAF staffer Ryan Call with a copy of what the university claims is the original criminology exam (Dunkley previously claimed that all copies of the exam were destroyed but claims to have received copies from students who held on to them. The student informant continues to allege that Dunkley recreated the exam to make him appear less culpable).
The exam presented as the original by UNC requires students to answer questions 1 and 2 and gives them a choice whether to answer either question 3 or question 4.
Questions 3 and 4 read as follows and both are clearly an exercise in indoctrination. While Question 4 does not state exactly that students must argue that “George Bush is a war criminal” it does ask that students “Make the argument that the military action of the US attacking Iraq was criminal?” which is nearly the same question as remembered by our student informant.
3. The taboo (deviance) society places on homosexual relationships and gay lifestyles today is beginning to subside. Attempts are being made to allow gay marriages, which appears right around the corner. Make an argument that would support gay marriages and gay families and explain how this additional type of family could help prevent crime (use one of the above theories form question #1 in your discussion and Shaw and McKay’s analysis of social ecology). 4. The American government campaign to attack Iraq was in part based on the assumptions that the Iraqi government had “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” This was never proven prior to the US police action/war and even President Bush, after the capture of Baghdad, stated “we may never find such weapons.” Cohen’s research on deviance discusses this process of how the media and various moral entrepreneurs and government enforcers can conspire to create panic. How does Cohen define this process? Explain it in-depth. Where does the social meaning of deviance come from? Argue that the attack on Iraq was deviance based on negotiable statuses. Make the argument that the military action of the US attacking Iraq was criminal?
Additionally, research done by staffers at Students for Academic Freedom calls into question whether President Bush in fact made the admission that “we may never find such weapons [of mass destruction]” which appears in Question 4 until after UNC’s finals period which spanned May 5-9, 2005.
Using both Google and Lexis-Nexis, as well as searching through every press briefing and presidential statement from the period on the whitehouse.gov site, an SAF staffer researching the issue in 2005 could identify no quotes or remarks by the President stating “we may never find such weapons” between April 9, 2003 and May 5, 2003, before the last day the exam could have been written.
This subsequently-released version of the test question doesn’t seem to match the historical timeline regarding the Bush administration’s statements and positions on WMD in Iraq. It was not until very late in May, 2003 at the earliest that U.S. news reports begin to hint at any change in the Bush administration’s position on finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Such reasoning cannot be definitive, but bolsters the student informant’s case that the exam question was indeed recreated and reads differently than the original.
April 21, 2005:
David Horowitz publishes the final statement from Students for Academic Freedom on the UNC case.