Campus Life

New “germinAte” Startup Empowers Students to Buy & Sell Grades

Free-market enthusiasts rejoice! A group of University of Chicago students recently announced a new startup, germinAte, which allows students to buy and sell individual grades in courses. Co-founders Andrew Smith and Saul Alivisatos bill the service as a uniquely UChicago solution to a universal problem. “Let’s say you have a 3.4. You’re almost in the running for the good internships, but not quite—you have to get over that hump. Another student, meanwhile, has a 3.9 and more A’s than she knows what to do with. So, let’s say you get a B+ in Sanderson’s macro course, while this other student gets an A in TAPS. We allow you to ‘germinAte’ your future, exchanging your B+ for her A, facilitated by a nominal cash transfer. Everyone benefits.”

Critics of the service say that by allowing wealthy students to purchase better grades, germinAte not only cheapens the value of a UChicago diploma, but fosters elitism and widens the gap between rich and poor students. The founders, however, are undeterred. “This is a good thing for inequality. It’s actually redistributing wealth. With disadvantaged students getting these grades for free, and selling them to wealthy students at a substantial markup, the service represents a net inflow to underprivileged students and a new way for them to get compensated for their labor. You can’t call yourself a liberal and oppose this. We’re like the modern-day Marx and Engels.”

At press time, FIJI was reported to be considering a seven-figure investment in the service, calling it “far superior to our current system of just paying the poor kids to take the classes for us.”