“The case of Maitland Jones, the New York University professor who was fired after a student petition alleged his organic-chemistry course was too hard, is a great loss for the university—and all of academia, since he is the man who wrote the standard textbook on organic chemistry.”– The Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2022
The University takes the success of our students very seriously. Especially the success of students who grew up getting trophies for losing. Now, we’ve gotten word that many students are distressed over the difficulty of your Organic Chemistry course. So do you mind handing in your Faculty ID? We simply can’t have you failing students who don’t deserve to pass.
We swear we aren’t coddling anyone. But if our undergraduates are sad over grades, we buy them ice cream after telling them their grades will be canceled. If they break out in a cold sweat and hyperventilate because they will never get into medical school, we have the deans of these schools send everyone “cheer up” teddy bears. And if they throw themselves in front of the science building and refuse to move until their grades are changed, we pat these scholars on the back in a circular motion and whisper “shhhh” into their ears, while pledging to terminate your contract.
Also, we promise them a week off from classes to heal from the trauma.
We’re beginning to think all YOUR awards for excellence in teaching are phony. You understand [H+] = 3.0 x 10-3 M but do you understand Boomers – B + Z = Gen Z? Isn’t it enough that they got into this elite school? Possibly by mommy writing their essay, daddy claiming alumni status, and both sets of grandparents opening their checkbooks. The actual understanding of premed coursework doesn’t matter to us. Just like it won’t matter to their future patients.
Yeah, Organic Chemistry is hard, but so is life. There’s plenty of time for these kids to learn hard lessons, but not under the shielding umbrella of our well-respected institution. You could have taught more “stick figure” and less “stick structure.” Awarded extra credit to anyone bringing in donuts. Graded based on a student’s willingness to sing acapella. You could have shown compassion by giving students born after 1996 the proper tools to succeed. And by “proper tools” we mean the final exam’s answer key.
Not in an obvious way, of course–we are a U.S. News top-ranked college, so we can’t have cheating out in the open. But on test days, you could have utilized the most basic principle in Organic Chemistry— helium balloons = funny voices—to belt out the Scantron sequence. You could have shot answer-embossed tee shirts from a cannon into the lecture hall. You could have just filled in the answers for your students as you distracted them with visiting puppies.
Or you could have said, “TO HELL WITH THIS CARBON SHIT, LET’S GO SURFING.” You could have secured students in bubble wrap, put them on a bus in car seats with a five-point harness, and headed out to Coney Island. You could have put on the floaties AND the lifejackets for some frolicking in the waves. You could have put on SPF 300. You could have said, “Screw the future of medicine, here’s to the future of enrollment,” and given everyone As. Then there wouldn’t have been all the crying.
Now, please leave without a fuss. We can’t stand tantrums. Unless, of course, they are from our students.
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Rochelle is a writer and humorist and girl mom and DIY enthusiast and plant killer and copywriter and exercise hater and amateur designer and X Files fan and pizza lover and sparkling water drinker and non-baker and novelist-in-progress and bunny owner and daughter of an immigrant and NYer and…