Oberlin College denies requests from students to suspend failing grades after protests

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OBERLIN, OH -- Over a hundred Oberlin College students who participated in protests in Cleveland and other communities in recent weeks have now asked for flexibility during finals week.

The students left their studies to demonstrate for Michael Brown, who was killed during a scuffle with an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and 12-year old Tamir Rice,  who was killed while holding an air pistol that a Cleveland officer thought was a real gun.

At that time student and protestor Sam Kalb said, “I’m here because i don’t think anyone should be above the law.”

This past Friday, over 1,300 Oberlin students signed a petition for college administrators asking for understanding and “alternative modes of learning” as they continue to cope with what’s happening across the country.

They asked for the normal grading system to be “replaced with a no-fail mercy period,” and said “basically no student …especially students of color should be failing a class this semester.”

In response, Oberlin President Marvin Krislov said that he understands their concerns and that he and the Academic Deans took the request seriously, however "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 said in a statement.

Administrators did offer students some assistance in the form of counseling and other support services. They also added increased flexibility in terms of students making “incomplete requests.”

They also extended the deadline for students to change from “a grade to the pass/no pass” option.

Tuesday night, the night before finals begin at Oberlin, student Kevin Sloan said, “most people I talked to seemed in support of the sentiment of the petition that the school should be sensitive to the issues that are happening.”

Although it seems administrators are offering some solutions for concerned students, Kevin said there’s been a lot of discord on campus.

"I think what people are upset about now is the administration’s failure to actually take a stance.”

Similar requests for changes with finals and testing were made at other universities across the country including Harvard and Columbia.