What’s a Socially Active Student to Do?

What’s a socially active college student to do?

It is a dilemma.  At least according to the more than 1,300 students at Oberlin College, Ohio, who signed a petition asking administrators to abolish midterms, and do away with all grades below C. They need that, they say, to accommodate their busy protest schedules.  Attending all those demonstrations against social injustice doesn’t leave them with much time to attend classes or study.

It’s true that hundreds of students have taken part in protests after the fatal police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, as well as the shootings of Michael Brown in St. Louis and Eric Garner in New York.  And they do have a point when they say that people are being beaten in the streets every day around the world, and unfairly locked away for petty crimes. But why does speaking out mean one must desert the responsibilities of being a student?

0d8543f52eec3b1f6b18cf472f315832[1]Many of us oldsters truly do understand.  Hey, we were college students of the 60s and 70s.  We can tell a story or two about protest and demonstrations.  But a petition for academic relief?  Hmmm… That’s something even we wouldn’t have tried.

The Oberlin petition was given to President Marvin Krislov on Friday. His answer came on Sunday.  It  was firm “no.” Although he did allow that he and the college’s deans gave the request serious consideration.  But he responded with a good dose of real life responsibility.  Good for him.


“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.”

Marvin Krislov, Oberlin College President



About kaystrom

Kay Marshall Strom, who am I? Well, I’m a traveler, a railer against social injustice, a passionate citizen of the world. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m a 21st century abolitionist who speaks out against slavery of all kinds. I am a beach walker and a gardener and the off-key singer of songs. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. Most people, though, know me as a writer and a speaker. So here is a bit more about that part of my life: Of my 43 published books, seventeen have been translated into foreign languages, and two have been optioned for movies. My writing credits include magazine articles, books for children, short stories, television scripts and two prize-winning screenplays. I love to write, and speak, about topics close to my heart. I speak at seminars, retreats, writer’s conferences, and special events throughout the country. And because I enjoy travel, I even speak on cruise ships. Because I don’t see how a writer can really reflect another people and land without spending time there, I’ve been trekking through India, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, Sudan, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, Japan and South Korea, tape recorder and camera in hand, to gather stories from the world-wide family of God. Thanks to my “virtual friendship” with John Newton, 17th century slave ship captain turned preacher, I traveled through Ireland. In West Africa I toured an old slave fortress off the coast and saw a tiny set of baby manacles bolted to the wall. I was struck dumb. From that horror came a story question, and from that question, my foray into fiction: The Grace in Africa trilogy. Come join me as I travel and rail against injustice. Maybe you will choose to be a 21st century abolitionist too.
This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What’s a Socially Active Student to Do?

  1. Kim Shepherd says:

    I will agree that there are many kinds of education. And I will agree that part of attending college is to be exposed to many new ideas, build and revise your world view (typically pretty small), and enhance and clarify your understanding of self. And it seems that a lot of that will come from outside of a classroom or structured learning setting, although much of it will as students from different backgrounds are thrown together and/or expected to work together. But isn’t college supposed to be about learning a specific content, and all the other stuff icing on the cake? I know some who have been active in a variety of things outside of class, and even missed classes to listen to and shake hands with a presidential hopeful, or to go on a retreat, or even to stay in their room ill. But they also made arrangements prior, or recognized that they were going to take an academic hit, and accepted it, feeling the alternative activity was more than worth the hit. Maybe that is responsible adult-like behavior. And maybe this article reflects children who want their lovely cake and frosting to be seen and recognized as substantive, while they sit and eat it. Maybe?

  2. kaystrom says:

    I agree wholeheartedly and wonder if I was unclear in my original post. In fact, I did a bit of editing to more clearly make my case. The goal of education, as I see it, is to raise up responsible adults “educated” in many and various facets of life. The job of students is to acquire academic learning, just as the job of teachers is to teach, and parents is to parent, and lawmakers is to make wise laws. Situations such as this make me wonder where this line of passing along the lessons of responsibility have broken down. Thank you, Kim, for adding your additional wise insights.

  3. These are the people who’ll likely abuse the good will of a boss. They’ll shirk duties in favor of personal interests, even worthy ones. Better to learn the hard reality of responsibility in school while someone else is still footing the bill.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *