What comes to mind when you think of trauma? Probably someone who has witnessed gratuitous violence, seen the horrors of war, been a victim of sexual abuse, or experienced any equally grim crimes.
You probably wouldn’t think of bad grades as trauma-inducing, but never underestimate the mental fragility of the safe space generation. We can now add awarding bad grades to the ever-growing list of actions that will require a trigger warning. Reason Magazine has the scoop: Johns Hopkins University is one of a handful of colleges that doesn’t include first-semester grades for freshmen on their transcripts. They receive grades, but they don’t count for anything. The custom was intended to ease students into university life, but officials are worried it encourages laziness, and have plans to abolish it.
That isn’t sitting well with activist students, who have organized under the banner “Re-Cover Hopkins.” Not only do they want the university to return to its policy of discounting first-year grades, they want the administration to apologize for daring to change it: “Freshmen are immediately subject to grade deflation and a cutthroat culture which has been fostered by the administration in its lack of urgency to implement a remedy. Hopkins students experience anxiety, depression, and suicide at high rates which cannot continue to be tolerated for the sake of competitive academic performance.
Students from low-income backgrounds, first generation students, students struggling with mental health, students with disabilities, international students, and sexual assault survivors—as well as students whose experiences exist at intersections of marginalized race, gender, and sexuality—are disproportionately affected by the policy change.”
Yes – grades are now somehow a social justice issue. Another student wrote in the Baltimore Sun: “I’m paying to have a support network, academically and mentally. I can’t be expected to do well in class if I’m depressed and have anxiety. If the school is worsening my anxiety, that’s their problem and they need to be held accountable for that.” Yeah – and it’s impossible to know if you’re doing well if you don’t receive the grades to prove it.
True story: I once received a C in college and somehow haven’t been since diagnosed with PTSD.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]