The list of demands from social justice college students around the country is growing daily. Most of them demand bully-proof safe spaces just to escape from any and all perceived oppression. Now, some at Oberlin College are asking for a bit more from administration: throw out all grades below 'C' and convert written exams to conversations.
With having to juggle protests, general activism, and avoiding contrary ideas written in chalk, these students are finding little time left to study and need someone to throw them a lifeline, and fast. What's worse, as Reason points out, the stress, mental anguish, and living in a "toxic" atmosphere, is leading many students to drop out altogether.
The latest in desperate pleas on campus were discovered in a piece for The New Yorker that introduced several student activists at Oberlin who are asking the impossible.
One of them is Megan Bautista, a self-described "Afro-Latinx." She expressed frustration at having to drive back and forth to attend the protests for cop shooting victim Tamir Rice forty minutes away and keep up school work back in 2014.
"A lot of us started suffering academically," Bautista noted.
She had hoped that Oberline would see the needs of the Black Lives Matter movement and once again follow its previous grade modifications offered during the Vietnam War protests and the Kent State shooting in 1970. She signed her name along with over 1,300 other students to a petition asking for the elimination of average grades and below. However, the administration didn't oblige.
"Students felt really unsupported in their endeavors to engage with the world outside Oberlin,” Bautista lamented.
Another student, Zakiya Acey, said an on-campus arrest has made his life difficult -- not to mention the "larger systems" that are at play around him.
"[H]aving to deal with all of that, I can’t produce the work that they want me to do," Acey told The New Yorker.
His idea was to institutionalize the practice of having a sit-down with his professors and talk the exam instead of writing anything down. He assured that he "understand[s] the material" but wants to prove it "in different ways."
A member of the black student union, Jasmine Adams, also spoke of her immense lack of energy to accomplish what she came to college for and her constant need to be taken care of:
"My parents don’t have the funds to drive to Oberlin when I’m crying and ready to self-harm. The only way that I can facilitate those conversations is to advocate for myself. That in itself makes me a part of a social-justice climate.”
Reason comments about how Adams and students like her exude the pervasive attitude that students are at college not to be educated, but to educate. They decide what's best for others and not just themselves. Adams added:
"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! As a person who plans on returning to my community, I don’t want to assimilate into middle-class values. I’m going home, back to the ’hood of Chicago, to be exactly who I was before I came to Oberlin.”
Adams' student loans are going to follow her back to the hood, as well. Too bad she will have wasted all that money to emerge unchanged from her college experience. Maybe she can start saving some money while in college to help -- if only she could find time for a job.
Well, there's a solution for that, too! Oberlin students, as part of their list of demands, are asking for $8.20 per hour as an activism wage.
They've thought of everything! And made sure it's all good for them!
Boy, the first step into the real world is going to be a tremendously difficult reality check.