This Texas A&M Professor Failed His Entire Class In One Email, Just In Case You Thought Your Semester Was Rough
Texas A&M Galveston professor Irwin Horwitz finally reached a boiling point last week with a class he describes as "disrespectful" and "dishonest". His solution? A daring move in which the professor failed his entire class, and informed them of their group fail in an email. In an interview with NBC affiliate KPRC, Horwitz explained, “I was dealing with cheating, dealing with individuals swearing at me both in and out of class, it got to the point that the school had to put security guards at that class and another class.” Finally, he said, "Enough was enough."
His email to the more-than 30 students in his strategic management class, posted onto TexAgs, lays out his grievances:
Briefly, but not a complete set of examples, since teaching this course, I have seen cheating, been told by students to 'chill out,' 'get out of my space,' 'go back and teach,' refuse to leave the room after being told to do so following inappropriate conduct, called a 'f------ moron' several times by a student to my face, had gone through numerous student hearings, had to change exams because students were using the testing center to take photos of make-up exams and share with their friends, have had students subsequently cheat by signing in for another, students not showing up but claiming they did, listened to many hurtful and untrue rumors about myself, my wife and other colleagues in MARA, been caught between fights between students and student groups, felt the need to have police protection in our class and another following it ....
He goes on to write that the “[b]ackstabbing, game playing, cheating, lying, fighting” of the students in his class violate the Texas A&M Honor Code. He goes on:
None of you, in my opinion, given the behavior in this class deserve to pass, or graduate to become an 'Aggie' as you do not in any way embody the honor that the University holds graduates should have within their personal character. It is thus for these reasons why I am officially walking away from this course. I am frankly and completely disgusted. You all lack the honor and maturity to live up to the standards that Texas A&M holds, and the competence and/or desire to do the quality work necessary to pass the course just on a grade level. ...
For the above reasons I will no longer be teaching the course, and all are being awarded a failing grade. ... It is beyond my imagination that any single one of you can look back at this class and take pride in your work – it’s all about the instrumentality of receiving your degree not the intrinsic meaning of it as a real measure of esteem and accomplishment; but to that end, I refuse to play a part. This is a complete disgrace to your school, the A&M Honor Code, those honorably holding A&M degrees, to your families who supported you, and ultimately to yourselves.
According to Inside Higher Ed, the same day that Horwitz sent this email to his students, he also sent an email to the university’s higher ups, explaining his actions and writing that the students are “your problem now.”
Horwitz’s frustration is palpable. We don’t know what exactly went wrong in his class, or if he is exaggerating some of the problems caused by students, but I think that we can assume that something significant had to be off about a class that could lead a professor with 20 years of teaching experience to blow up this way. Nevertheless, students deserve to be assessed according to their individual performances, not for the behavior of their classmates. (In fact, Horwitz admitted in an interview with Inside Higher Ed that, despite the fact that most students were unable to meet even the most basic academic requirements of the course, there were a few that performed well academically and did not have behavioral problems. He offered to teach only those students, but when the university refused, “he felt he had no choice but to fail everyone and leave the course.”)
Although it’s hard not to admire Horwitz’s “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” stance, I think most would agree that it’s a good thing that the university administration has announced that it will not uphold Horwitz’s class-wide fail. A university spokesman told Inside Higher Ed via email, "No student who passes the class academically will be failed. That is the only right thing to do." That’s not to say, however, that the administration isn’t going to take the email seriously. The spokesman also explained that "all accusations made by the professor about the students' behavior in class are also being investigated and disciplinary action will be taken."
Image: Getty Images; Giphy