A group of dissatisfied freshmen in an unnamed introductory political science course have mutinied, rendering the class’ administration impossible, effectively stalling the class mid-semester. After receiving grades on their midterm paper assignments, a large contingency of freshmen swarmed their professor at the end of class asking for clarification regarding their grades. The professor, visiting from another university, allegedly told the students to, “F*** off, that’s what it’s for,” pointing to the TA cowering in the back of the lecture hall. Students, receiving anywhere from B+’s to A-’s on said assignment—comprising approximately 25% of their final grade—were outraged to discover that only a handful of As were given out. Feeling wronged by the grading process, the students have started a campaign to encourage the University to drop the TA—who prefers to remain anonymous—from the graduate program and have also taken legal action against the TA, filing a suit for $100,000 in damages. In addition to taking on their TA, the students have employed civil disobedience in class, refusing to stop complaining about their grades during lecture and duct-taping the slide projector shut so as to prevent the class from moving forward until they feel their concerns have been heard and rectified. At the very least, the less impassioned students have created, ironically, the hashtag #gradeinflationisahumanright; it has yet to find ground on Twitter.
Leader of this rebel cause is College freshman Chad Carlton-White—Carlton-White’s father is the student’s legal counsel. Defending his and his fellow students’ actions Carlton-White says, “It’s just egregious. Firstly, only giving a few A’s, probably to upperclassmen with an unfair advantage in college experience, is just completely ridiculous, it’s a violation of equal protection plain and simple. Moreover, the grading process was ludicrous, how was I possibly supposed to know that grammatical mechanics was a part of the grading scale for a paper on U.S. military strategy? All of our papers have these notes on them like “logically incoherent,” “that’s not how you spell ‘America,’” or “it’s a bit of stretch to argue that the feminist movement caused us to fail in Vietnam.” Like, we spent three nonconsecutive half-hours during our weekends to type up four pages of content for you to read and you’re not going to give me an A? It might even be a 1st Amendment violation, we’re looking into it.” Many of Carlton-White’s classmates nodded in agreement as he spoke. One fellow classmate, college freshman Harlington Devereaux, added “It just feels like our TA disagreed with the points I made and I don’t like that feeling. I’m not paying tuition to feel imperfect.”
When speaking with Punch Bowl, the students’ TA spoke in defense of the grades he gave out. Regarding Carlton-White’s work he explained that, “At one point he quoted the dissenting opinion in Roe v. Wade while trying to explain the U.S.’s air strategy in Kosovo, it was like reading a transcript of a Sarah Palin speech, including the sound effects. He also has this weird thing with constantly using legal terms he doesn’t understand or uses totally incorrectly; at one point in the essay he just writes “Objection!” regarding a counterargument he’s addressing and doesn’t elaborate whatsoever. I don’t even understand how they’re suing me for damages.” Though he declined to reference any other student work explicitly due to ongoing legal proceedings, he did have one plea for his students, “I just wish they would realize that this is only a portion of their grade. Most of them got A-’s even after all the s*** they wrote. Plus, participation in recitation is another 20% of their final grade, and they virtually all get perfect scores on that anyway.”
At the time this story went to print, the conflict was still unresolved and legal proceedings have stalled. Though the students removed the duct tape from the slide projector, they still refuse to allow lecture to proceed without interruption. During recitations students have taken to answering the TA’s prompts with passive aggressive questions about his appearance; while he reportedly leaves the room to cry frequently, he is still refusing to change their grades.