June 14, 2017

Why One Student thinks LGBT got her an F


Are simple letter grades reductive? Via Polyvore.com.

A few weeks back, we lampooned the concerns of a handful of higher education watchers who thought that graphic novels were Trojan horses, packed with pro-gay propaganda, just waiting to be invited through the gates of this nation’s finest universities. In their view, graphic novels—silly little things unable to be read critically—made ideal vehicles for reverse discrimination and an excessive focus on “the oppressed.”

Today we examine this argument in miniature — and in the higher-brow world of the creative writing classroom. Adam Boult has reported for the Telegraph that a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point creative writing student is suing over an F grade that she feels she got stuck with because her professor “has swung the pendulum far to the side of LGBT students and, in doing so, has chosen to totally discount the importance and the validity of the mainstream student population.” In this way, the student seems to ally herself with critics who severely misidentify themselves as a marginalized group on the grounds that no one wants to listen to their impatience with actually marginalized groups.

The student, Donna Kikkert, 56, also contends that the less-than-stellar grade owes something to the complaints she has previously filed about how her teacher Patricia Dyjak has treated her students. Boult reports quotes Kikkert’s complaint as saying:

For the reading material in this course, Ms Dyjak chose five poetry textbooks… which focused on lesbians, illicit sexual relationships, incest and frequent swearing…. A rational person would surmise these textbook choices to be myopically degrading and insulting to the intelligence of university students, who would have greatly benefited from a balanced study of poets.

The case—in which Kikkert is suing for an A—was dismissed on the grounds that the law cannot dictate what a professor should teach in class, nor can it protect a student against receiving a disappointing grade that a professor feels they’ve earned.

I’m not sure many out there are ready to question the professor’s approach in this case — but perhaps this would be a fine time to better understand the curious and lovely breed of human that is your undergraduate professor.



Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.