Oxford is tying itself in knots over racism

Oxford University apparently has plans for “trauma dispensation” and the “decolonisation of science degrees”. ( Excuse  me!  What on earth is trauma dispensation and when was science “ colonized”?  Ed.)

”Stepford students! Snowflakes! Students are mocked but in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, it is vice-chancellors who spot trauma everywhere and want to turn universities into one big safe space.

“The vice-chancellor of Oxford University, Louise Richardson, has announced that students traumatised by the video of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer can ask for special dispensation if they feel they were unable to perform at their best in final exams or assessments. She has urged her colleagues to “reach out to any black students who may be experiencing difficulty at this time”.

“No one who watched Floyd plead for his life was left unmoved. But grades for trauma takes us down a slippery slope. Exactly how many additional marks is a traumatic experience worth? How do students go about proving their distress? The call to “reach out” to black students suggests skin colour will be evidence of suffering.

“Richardson’s announcement means black students at Oxford may have their exams graded more leniently than their white peers. This is a giant leap backwards for racial equality. At first glance, Richardson’s proposal might seem unfair to white students who will struggle to prove they have been traumatised. But it is black students who should be furious.

“You worked hard to win a place at a top university — 18.3 per cent of Oxford students are British BAME, compared with the Russell Group average of 21.6 per cent. Once there, you spent long hours in the lab or the library, before frantic weeks cramming for finals. Exam results are announced and — fantastic news! — your efforts paid off. But rather than celebrating you are left with nagging doubts. Did you score highly because your lecturers felt sorry for you? Will your degree classification be forever shrouded in doubt?  (Joanna Williams, The Times, June 18 2020).

My comment:  I don’t always find myself in agreement with The Times (London), but  I do think Ms. Joanna Williams is right – all this is patronising.  If I were black I would resent being talked down to in this manner.  It will take less than a year before the word goes round that a degree earned by a colored student isn’t worth as much as the same degree earned by a white one, and all the best intentions will be for naught.  If you are accepted by Oxford, you are resilient enough to do the work involved (a huge load) and take the exams on the same basis as everyone else.

I had the experience of a final exam paper on European History which my tutor subsequently told me was the most difficult he had seen for many years.  Like everyone else I messed it up, and as a result, the Final grading for me and everyone else involved was affected negatively.  Did we go crying “unfair” to the authorities?  No, by that time we were adults, I suppose. A non-coddled generation.

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