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Should protesting college students get exam extensions?

Updated on December 10, 2014

Several colleges are considering giving exam extensions to students that were participating in the protests in Ferguson, MO and New York. Student groups at Harvard Law School, Georgetown University Law Center and Columbia Law School say demonstrations and rallies over the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases have prevented many students from adequately preparing for exams.Should these students be given an extension or should they have to take exams along with everyone else?

The argument being used in asking for the extension is that the students were busy protesting the Grand Jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases so they didn't have time to study. This could be considered as a personal decision that they understood could affect them with exams.

Harvard has granted extensions for protestors in the past . In 1970, the faculty voted to delay all exams in response to demands by students participating in anti-war protests. None of the schools have said how many extensions have been requested and no general postponement has been issued. All three universities have said the requests will be decided on a case by case basis. Columbia and Harvard are also having grief counselors and other mental health support available for students.

After the recent shooting in the campus library at FSU, classes were canceled and exams postponed on the day after the shooting. No wholesale exemptions were given and counseling was provided by FSU for students who felt they needed it. At the time of the shooting there were approximately 300 students in the library studying for exams.These students were involved in an emotional situation through no choice of their own. There was no report of widespread exemption requests by students involved in this tragedy.

While showing support and speaking out are actions that helped found this country, there are consequences. In the case of these college protestors, they may learn that missing their exams is theirs. It is to be hoped that the passion for justice will follow these students into their careers so they may make the changes that will prevent the need for future protests like those they attended.


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