Several final exam blue books from Government Professor Michael J. Sandel’s mega-course “Ethical Reasoning 22: Justice” were stolen from a teaching fellow’s car earlier this week, forcing some students to retake the exam or settle for a grade based on their previous work in the course.
Sandel, whose class typically fills Sanders Theatre, notified students whose exams had been stolen yesterday that they will be able to take a different version of the test as a take-home exam over the next few days. Students can also elect to accept a grade calculated from their previous assignments, which constitute about 65 percent of the syllabus’ requirements.
It remains unclear how many of the course’s approximately 800 students were affected by the theft, which occurred after someone stole a backpack that contained a laptop and some bluebooks.
For freshmen who hoped for an easy, pain-free introduction to Harvard, yesterday’s news came as a shock and a jolt to an otherwise carefully planned academic schedule.
“I do think it’s the fairest thing they could have done, but it doesn’t help me out at all,” said Matthew D. Moellman ’14.
Though Moellman said he thinks that he did well enough on the Justice final to raise his final grade, he said he plans to take the option of basing his grade on his previous course work, as preparing for a makeup exam would detract from the time he plans to spend preparing for his other final on Monday.
The Cambridge Police Department is investigating the theft, but according to an e-mail sent to students by head teaching fellow Kerstin Haase, course administrators have little faith that the materials will be returned.
Haase said in her e-mail to students that a “handful” of books had been stolen but declined to elaborate on that number in response to questions from The Crimson.
“It sucks, but stuff happens. You’ve got to live with it and move on, it’s not the end of the world,” Moellman said. “It’s the best they could do with a really crappy situation.”
—Staff writer Elias J. Groll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.