Oberlin College Denies Request to Suspend failing Grades to Give Relief to Students Who Demonstrated

Karen Farkas, Cleveland, December 16, 2014

Oberlin College has refused to suspend failing grades this semester despite requests for relief from students who skipped classes and missed study time to protest recent deaths at the hands of police across the nation.

A student petition, signed by more than 1,300, called for the college to institute a “no-fail mercy period” that would eliminate all failing grades and make a C the lowest possible grade a student could receive, the student newspaper reported.

President Marvin Krislov responded with an email to students on Sunday, saying he and the college’s deans opted not to grant the reprieve after giving the request serious consideration.

“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.

Hundreds of students have participated in demonstrations in Oberlin and Cleveland in the wake of the fatal police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, the shooting death of Michael Brown by a suburban St. Louis officer and the death of Eric Garner in New York, the student newspaper reported.


The petition was given to Krislov on Friday.

“Administrators should require professors to exercise complete flexibility in what students are saying they can produce academically,” the petition said.

“Students in this moment should have complete access to alternative modes of learning while we process what’s happening. Basically, no student, especially black students and students of color, should be failing a class this semester. A “C” should be the lowest grade students can receive this semester.”


A memo sent last week to students said the college was extending the deadline for requesting incompletes in classes and changing a letter grade to a Pass/No Pass until the last day of finals.


University officials at Harvard, Georgetown and Columbia have said students can petition to have their exams rescheduled and the requests will be considered individually, a process their policies already provided, the Associated Press reported.

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