Education

No Exam Delay for Oberlin Students 'Traumatized' By Grand Jury Decisions

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baslow/Flickr

Last week, Robby wrote here about how "students are so coddled by the feelings-protection regime at university campuses that they now believe disheartening national news developments—such as the grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases—entitle them to final exam extensions." Columbia Law School delayed final exams for students who felt unable to take them in the wake these developments. Students at Harvard and Georgetown began demanding their universities follow suit.

One might think that Oberlin College, known for it's ultra-crunchy reputation, would be all about this. At least one professor at Oberlin, however, is having none of it: 

Della Kurzer-Zlotnick/Facebook

So, that made me laugh enough to want to pass it on. Notice that the student who sent the email isn't writing on behalf of herself but that of black students she just knows must be too traumatized to take exams and yet unable to speak for themselves. Good for Professor Raney for quickly and succinctly putting an end to this nonsense. 

After receiving her professor's response, the student posted the exchange publicly to Facebook, with the message: "TRIGGER WARNING: Violent language regarding an extremely dismissive response from a professor. This is an email exchange I had with my professor this evening. … We are obviously not preaching to the choir. Professors and administration at Oberlin need to be held accountable for their words and actions and have a responsibility to their students."

But I don't mean to pick too much on this student, an Oberlin freshman. This is the environment she's inherited and set of social cues she's learned from people who should know far better—like professors and administrators at Ivy League law schools, for a start. 

For more recent campus-of-delicate-flowers inanity, see: 

h/t Caleb Brown

Update: More rejection for Oberlin students seeking a repreive from academics-as-usual in the wake of recent incidents of police violence. From wkyc.com: 

Students at Oberlin College asked for a "mercy reprieve" for their grades because hundreds of students participated in demonstrations in Oberlin and Cleveland in the wake of the fatal police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, the shooting death of Michael Brown by a suburban St. Louis officer and the death of Eric Garner in New York, according to the student newspaper The Oberlin Review.

President Marvin Krislov responded with an email to students on Sunday, saying he and the college's deans opted not to grant the reprieve after giving the request serious consideration. 

Can you imagine previous generations of civil rights activists asking their college professors for "complete flexibility in what students are saying they can produce academically"?

Here's more from the Oberlin undergraduates' petition: 

Students in this moment should have complete access to alternative modes of learning while we process what's happening. Basically, no student, especially black students and students of color, should be failing a class this semester. A 'C' should be the lowest grade students can receive this semester.

Is it any wonder more than 1,300 students signed the petition? 

In Krislov's response, he pointed out that the school had extended the deadlines for requesting incompletes and changing from a letter grade to Pass/No Pass, and he urged students to talk to professors individually if they were having trouble completing assignments. (You know, like aspiring adults do.) However, "suspending grading protocols is not the way to achieve our shared goal of ensuring that students have every opportunity and resource to succeed," Krislov wrote.