Some students at Ohio's Oberlin College might have some explaining to do when they go home for holiday break next week. Like, what's the deal with that F in Environmental Studies?
After students who participated in recent protests against police violence found out they would get failing grades this semester due to their repeated absences from class, more than 1,300 signed a petition asking the school's administration to consider a "no-fail mercy period" that would spare them an F and make C's the lowest possible grade, according to student newspaper the Oberlin Review.
"Students in this moment should have complete access to alternative modes of learning while we process what's happening," read the request. "Basically, no student especially black students and students of color should be failing a class this semester... Professors should be required to work with students, who would otherwise be at risk of failing, to create alternate means of accessing knowledge."
But school president Marvin Krislov sent a response this week saying he and the college's deans thought about it long and hard but would not consider a grade break. "We are in firm agreement that suspending grading protocols is not the way to achieve our shared goal of ensuring that students have every opportunity and resource to succeed," he wrote.
Read the full petition and Krislov's response here.
Hundreds of Oberlin students participated in demonstrations in Oberlin and Cleveland in the past month protesting the police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, as well as the police-involved deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
"Imagine if you had to tell your grandkids, 'I didn’t go out and fight for what is right because I had to go finish a chemistry final,'" Oberlin student senator Nick Canavan told ABC 5 in Cleveland. Krislov said students have until the end of finals to speak to their individual professor about any grade changes.
Final exams started on Wednesday. While Oberlin administrators declined to offer a grade reprieve, officials at Georgetown, Harvard and Columbia have allowed students to petition to have their exams rescheduled.