Oberlin activist students want conversations instead of exams, no below-‘C’ grades

May 30, 2016 by

Also, the college should pay them when they protest stuff

By Mike Moffitt –

Life is hard for Oberlin College’s activist undergraduates. Protesting against the injustices of society takes so much work and energy that they have little time for less important chores — like studying and taking tests.

And the elite Ohio liberal arts college has not been very sympathetic. When the students asked that all grades below “C” be abolished and that they be paid a salary for all the time they spent protesting, the administration balked.

In the May 30 issue of the New Yorker, Nathan Heller writes about the plight of the activist students struggling emotionally and academically in a culture they find toxic.

In the wake of the police killing of Tamir Rice in Cleveland, more than 1,300 students signed a petition calling for the college to discontinue giving out any grade lower than a “C” for the semester. The rationale was that students had to neglect their studies because they had been protesting so diligently, so they shouldn’t be penalized.

“Students felt really unsupported in their endeavors to engage with the world outside Oberlin,” Megan Bautista told Heller. Bautista identifies as “Afro-Latinx,” with “x” signifying independence from overdetermined gender roles.

Oberlin students say a normal grading system isn’t fair due to their activism and protests. Jordyn Rolling (@jordynrolling) has the story!

Media: Buzz60 English

Zakiya Acey argued for banning midterm exams in favor of conversations.

“Because I’m dealing with having been arrested on campus, or having to deal with the things that my family are going through because of larger systems — having to deal with all of that, I can’t produce the work that they want me to do. But I understand the material, and I can give it to you in different ways. There’s professors who have openly been, like, ‘Yeah, instead of, you know, writing out this midterm, come in to my office hours, and you can just speak it,’ right? But that’s not institutionalized. I have to find that professor.”

Jasmine Adams, a member of the black-student union, took issue with the curriculum.

“We’re asking to be reflected in our education, I literally am so tired of learning about Marx, when he did not include race in his discussion of the market!”

She also criticized the college for not having enough disabled students.

“When I came here, I’m, like, ‘Where are the people who are disabled?'” Adams told Heller. “I know so many disabled people at home.

“It does not reflect the real world.”

Adam was one of the supporters of a letter of 50 nonnegotiable demands submitted to Oberlin President Marvin Krislov.

They included a request for an $8.20-an-hour activism wage, the dismissal of nine Oberlin employees deemed insufficiently supportive of black students and the tenuring of black faculty.

While some of the demands may have had merit, Krislov wrote in a public editorial: “I will not respond directly to any document that explicitly rejects the notion of collaborative engagement.”

Some white students have rallied to their oppressed comrades. In an op-ed piece for the college paper, Chloe Vassot urged white students like her to speak up less in class in certain circumstances.

“I understand that I am not just an individual concerned only with comfort but also a part of a society that I believe will benefit from my silence,” she wrote.

As Heller writes, “She told me that it was a corrective for a system that claimed to value marginalized people but actually normalized them to a voice like hers.”

In the meantime, the college must guard against further offending its sensitive students.

Hopefully the food flap that reared up in December has been resolved. At that time, students protested the inauthenticity of the cuisine at the school’s Afrikan Heritage House and the use of the wrong ingredients in the cafeteria’s sushi and bánh mì dishes.

Geez, Oberlin, get your act together!

Source: Oberlin activist students want conversations instead of exams, no below-‘C’ grades – SFGate

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.