Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Grades Don't Equal Knowledge!! We Want MORE From College!!

Story of a college protest performed by S.A.S.Q.U.A.T.C.H- Students Answering Sociological Questions United And Together Challenging Hierarchy

We, the members of the Sociology of Social Movements 366 class, arewithdrawing from the final as currently designed. The class will not complywith the final examination because it is our unanimous belief that we haveaptly proven our understanding of social movements. We demand that ourknowledge of this course be recognized through our ability to organize andwork together for a common cause, as opposed to rote memorization oftheories, facts and repeating information we have previously demonstratedknowledge of. The class, over the past four months, has displayed, throughbriefs and daily discussion, a strong grasp of different forms of socialmovements and how they function in society.

The class has been aggrieved over the entirety of the course by a powerstructure which denies any form of democratic decision making. The illusionof democracy in the form of a vote for the type of final examination willnot appease our desire for free choice in our education because a thirdoption – which we are demonstrating today – was not available to us. Wewill not comply with an examination with which students have no influence.

We believe that grades do not accurately reflect the knowledge learned bystudents; the traditional A-F grading system and traditional testing is anelitist system under which students of varying abilities and backgrounds arenot always tested the way that they learn best. Grades instill unnecessarycompetition amongst students in a classroom, school, or university setting.Finally *but most importantly*, traditional grading systems place emphasison the outcome (ie: A, B, etc) rather than placing emphasis on the processof learning and increasing knowledge for knowledge's sake.

The current design of our exam leaves us subject to what we believe is aninsufficient evaluation of what we have learned in this course. No longerwill we, as students, stand by and accept a classroom structure in whichprofessors have absolute power and discretion. Without our complianceprofessors have no power; they have no form of income which we pay in theform of tuition, they have no audience, and they have no support which weprovide in the form of assistantships.

Through the use of email and group meetings to facilitate collaboration andorganization, we have already answered the final exam questions (see attached). Further proof of our understanding of the coursework is,paradoxically, evident through our refusal to participate in it as currentlydesigned. We are participating in a social movement that has developed dueto our current situation in society. We have come to understand our commonplight as students and through classroom discussion and common hardship wehave gained solidarity. We are collectively acting to change the currentstructure of power.

We are assembling in a nonviolent protest directly outside Schroeder Hall. Weask that you recognize this protest as a demonstration of our knowledge fromthis course. We are moving from theory into action, and respectfullyrequest that you consider this movement our final exam.

And that's exactly what we did. We marched and protested on the quad, held up our signs and chanted in opposition to "the Man."
1-2-3-4! We won't take finals anymore!
5-6-7-8! Down with grades at Illinois State!
This is what University looks like!
Choice in education! Not regurgitation!

He bargained with us. Said if we'd stop protesting he'd give us all C's for the final exam. Say what?

We're not mediocre! We are thought provokers!

After a while, we ended up taking our protest inside and staging a sit-in inside the office of the Department of Sociology. We bargained and pleaded our case, and finally won. We got our instructor to recognize our protest as a demonstration of our knowledge instead of taking a final exam, and recieved full points. He acted tough, but in all actuality he was so impressed with our organizing, solidarity, and techniques. He tried to drive a hard bargain, but even for him it was tough to be "the man" since he is a bit radical himself.

So for victory's sake, I will end with a chant of my own, brought back from the archives of second grade.

We won, We won, we shot the BB Gun!!