No grades below C and no written exams … say, what?

Those are the student demands at Ohio’s Oberlin College


Students at Oberlin College are asking the school to put academics on the back burner so they can put more time and energy into political activism.

No kidding …



According to The Week, channeling a New Yorker article:

“More than 1,300 students at the Midwestern liberal arts college signed a petition asking that the college get rid of any grade below a C … and some students are requesting alternatives to the standard written examinations, such as a conversation with a professor in lieu of an essay.”

The students say that between their activism work and their heavy course load, “A lot of us are suffering academically … finding success within the usual grading parameters is increasingly difficult.”

So, just forget about Ds and Fs and Incompletes … just go with As, Bs and Cs.

Might work …


“You know, we’re paying for a service. We’re paying for our attendance here. We need to be able to get what we need in a way that we can actually consume it.”

Because I’m dealing with other stuff, 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.”

Like, one-on-one “conversations” with professors in lieu of written exams.



Sounds pretty preposterous, right?

But, students point out that there are historical precedents.


As the New Yorker article points out:

“In the 1970s, Oberlin (and many other colleges and universities) adjusted their grading to accommodate student activists protesting the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings.”


In fact, during my senior year at Princeton, we were given wide grading latitude based on our level of conscious objection to the Vietnam war.

For the 2nd semester — when protests reached a fever pitch and Kent State happened – we were given the option of (a) finishing courses as usual (b) taking our mid-term grade and calling it a day, or (c) taking a “P” (for pass) in a course and closing the books.

I recollect taking advantage of all 3 options.

Apparently, my level of anti-war sentiment varied by course.

Seemed to make sense at the time.


Guess that I forfeited my legitimacy to criticize the Oberlin students.



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One Response to “No grades below C and no written exams … say, what?”

  1. Chris Says:

    Performance expectations are rising very quickly in the real world. These folks are in for a real education over the next couple of years.

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