An A for Activism on Campus
Political agitation on campus can be hard work, and its rigors deserve to be recognized when professors are handing out student grades. Believe it or not, that’s a new theme at several schools of supposedly higher education where students have erupted.
Take Evergreen State College, where biology professor Bret Weinstein was harassed and advised by police to stay home after he opposed a racially segregated “Day of Absence” in which whites were told to stay off campus. The student haranguing was extreme enough that Evergreen president George Bridges was “apparently not free to go to the restroom on his own,” as Evergreen facilities engineer Rich Davis put it in an email obtained by these pages through a public records request.
But far from punishing students for such behavior, interim Evergreen provost Kenneth Tabbutt wrote in a May 25 email that “student protestors have diverted time and energy from their academic work to promote institutional change and social justice.” Professors have discretion on student evaluations, he added, so “I am asking that you consider the physical and emotional commitment the students have made and consider accommodations for that effort, including the learning that is going on outside of your program.” This is a novel spin on the old school of hard knocks.
In recent years administrators at Columbia, the New School and elsewhere have also encouraged grading concessions for students who chose protests over mere book learning. At Oberlin some 1,300 students unsuccessfully petitioned the school president for no failing grades for activists. Oberlin’s Black Student Union has also demanded an $8.20-per-hour stipend for student protesters’ “continuous organizing efforts.”
Today’s millennial activists aren’t likely to behave better if the punishment for antisocial or violent behavior is a higher GPA.