Students freaked out after a law professor asked them to argue in favor of segregation for the essay portion of a final exam.
University of Texas at Austin law professor Richard Albert, who is black, administered an exam asking students to argue in favor of school segregation in a memo of 1,000 words or less, according to Misrule of Law.
“No one should have been forced to write an essay defending segregation,” one unnamed white student wrote to the class in an email. He said that the question made him “shocked and disgusted” and urged students to complain to the UT law administration.
A black student expressed displeasure with the white student’s reaction, but not because she was a fan of the question.
“If you are not a person of color and you felt triggered by the exam question, I would encourage you to actually talk to a person of color in the class because, to be frank, the question did not address your experience,” she said, according to Misrule of Law. “And because it is not your experience, it is not you [sic] place to take charge of the dialogue without consulting the individuals who are actually impacted.”
“Remember the amount of privilege that each of us sit in as we work towards solutions to mitigate or, possibly, remedy these concerns.”
Another unnamed white student defended the question.
Albert’s exam consisted of the essay question, which instructed students to argue in favor of school segregation to the Kansas governor in an era before Brown vs. Board of Education and accounted for half of the students’ grades, and multiple choice questions. After the outrage from students, Albert notified them that they could opt to eliminate the essay from their grade and have their exam scored solely on multiple-choice questions.
“Even if just one of you experienced a reaction that directly undercut your best efforts to perform well with a clear and focused mind, that is one too many for me,” Albert wrote to the students. “If for any reason you would like me sever the essay question from your exam and instead double your score on the multiple choice questions…you are free to select this alternative option.”
The professor said that students opting to eliminate the essay question from their exam could confidentially email an assistant dean to keep their identity anonymous. But UT Law executive director of institutional advancement Chris Roberts subsequently told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Albert “is going to be grading the exams from his class as [they were] administered.”
Albert invited students to a Wednesday discussion and also indicated his availability over the summer to talk about the exam.
UT Austin made headlines earlier in May for suspending its search for a salaried “healthy masculinities coordinator.” (RELATED: UT Austin Suspends Search For ‘Healthy Masculinities Coordinator’)
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