Culture

Oberlin Students: Replace Midterms with Conversations and Erase Grades Below Cs

#CheckYourSyllabusPrivilege
Very reasonable.

Student activists at Oberlin College are saying how frustrated they are that the school is making it so tough for them to be on campus — and that it’s so unfair that the school won’t heed their demands for how to make it easier on them.

Now, in case you forgot, Oberlin made headlines in December when student activists started demanding $8.20 per hour for protesting. That was pretty ridiculous in itself, but interviews with student activists in a New Yorker piece written by Nathan Heller suggest that that demand was really just the tip of the ridiculousness iceberg. For example, a self-identified “Afro-Latinx” student named Megan Bautista said she was upset that the school is refusing to erase any grades below Cs:

Oberlin had modified its grading standards to accommodate activism around the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings, and Bautista had hoped for something similar. More than thirteen hundred students signed a petition calling for the college to eliminate any grade lower than a C for the semester, but to no avail. “Students felt really unsupported in their endeavors to engage with the world outside Oberlin,” she told me.

Whoa. So, is she trying to say that under the current policy, if you earn a D then a D appears on your transcript? Yikes, that is insane! Totally unfair! How do kids even handle going there?

I’m being sarcastic, of course . . . but believe it or not, some students actually believe this to be unfair. A transgender student named Cyrus Eosphoros — an activist who had advocated putting trigger warnings on Antigone – told the New Yorker he had just dropped out because of what Heller said he’d described as a “want of institutional support.”

“There’s this persistent, low-grade dehumanization from everyone,” Eosphoros said.

This sentiment of feeling dehumanized and mistreated was echoed by many others — including a student from Chicago named Zakiya Acey, who thought it was like, totally an injustice that some of his professors made him actually take his midterms instead of allowing him to just chat with them about the subject material instead:

“There’s professors who have openly been, like, ‘Yeah, instead of, you know, writing out this midterm, come into my office hours, and you can just speak it,’ right? But that’s not institutionalized,” he said. “I have to find that professor.”

You have to find someone who will let you not take your tests in order to not have to take tests? Ughhhh so hard!

#related#As Reason’s Robby Soave puts it, “The students Heller interviewed seem to think they’re not at college to be educated: they are at college to educate everyone else.”

And that’s exactly it. If you already know how to run the school even better than the people running it, why are you even there? College is supposed to be a place to learn, and if there’s nothing left for you to learn because you’re so smart and everyone else is so ignorant, then perhaps dropping out like Mr. Eosphoros really is your best bet. But what do I know? After all, unfortunately for me, I still don’t know enough yet to think I have nothing more to learn. 

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online

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