Sociology professor has doubts about Australia
Ashley Arnold is a 27-year-old stay-at-home mom from Idaho who is studying sociology through Southern New Hampshire University, an online university. For her final class, she was required to compare social norms in the United States and another country. Arnold decided to compare social media use in the U.S. and Australia, and that’s where things went bizarrely and hilariously wrong.
Arnold was asked to submit an outline for her project last month. When she got her grade on February 1st, she was shocked to see that her professor, who has a Ph.D. in Philosophy, gave her an F. She was even more shocked, however, to see why: “Australia is a continent,” her professor wrote, “not a country.”
Say who where and how then?
Arnold wrote her professor back saying that, actually, Australia is very much a country. She even provided references. References. To prove that Australia is a country. “I believe I got zero or partial credit because the instructor said, ‘Australia is a continent; not a country,'” Arnold wrote in her e-mail protesting the grade. “However, I believe that Australia is a country. The research starter on the SNHU’s Shapiro library written by John Pearson (2013) states, that Australia is the ‘sixth-largest country in the world’ (n.p.). The full name of the country is the Commonwealth of Australia, meaning Australia is both a continent and a country. Therefore, these sections of the rubric should be amended.”
She shared the professor’s response online:
Y’all, research is like dominoes. If you start out by insisting that Australia is a country, then you’re going to lose all credibility when you try to convince me that they don’t ride kangaroos to work like horses. It’s about intellectual honesty.
Anyway, Arnold’s professor remained unconvinced, something Arnold had a difficult time understanding. “With her education levels, her expertise, who wouldn’t know Australia is a country?” she told Buzzfeed. “If she’s hesitating or questioning that, why wouldn’t she just Google that herself?”
Arnold e-mailed her again:
“Australia is both a country and a continent. It’s the only country that is both. I provided a resource in the first email that clarifies that for you. If you need further clarification google or the SNHU Shapiro Library has that information for you. Again I mean no disrespect but my grade is affected by your assumption that Australia is not a country when it in fact is. Thank you and let me know if I need to provide further resources proving Australia is a country.”
This is like those mind-bending conversations you have with your kids: “Dogs are a kind of animal. Yes, they are. I don’t know why this is a conversation we are having in real life. If you need further clarification, ask literally anyone or anything if this is true and they will say yes. I mean no disrespect, but god dammit I’m 40 years old and you are 5.”
Arnold then sent her a link to the Australian government’s website, but her teacher was not ready to give in. Not yet.
“Independent research.” Just imagine it: her professor poring over stacks of books and atlases in a library late at night, her hair disheveled, and she hasn’t eaten in days. “Country or continent, country or continent,” she mumbles to herself. “She says it’s both, but how can it be both? How can it be both?!”
Spoiler alert: it’s both.
In the end, the professor conceded that she was wrong. Kind of. She changed Arnold’s grade to a B+ but warned her to “Please make sure the date, the facts, and the information you provide in your report is about Australia the country and not Australia the continent.”
But they’re the…same…but…it’s not….
For her part, Arnold was thrilled to see Australia’s status as a country confirmed. But more than that, she was proud that she stood up for herself and fought for the grade that she deserved.
“As a student going back to school in my late twenties I have sometimes felt inadequate,” she wrote on Facebook. “I have felt ashamed and embarrassed that I’m still in school and do not have a ‘real’ career yet. However, this class made me realize that I am equal and I can do hard things 💪 I learned I can advocate for myself successfully even in the face of opposition brought on by a stubborn professor with a Ph.D. I hope this experience will give me the courage to continue to advocate for myself and others.”
Kick ass, Ashley.
Southern New Hampshire University also commented on the situation on Twitter:
We deeply regret the interaction between our professor & our student. We have apologized to Ashley, replaced the instructor, & are reimbursing her tuition for the course. To our friends in Australia, we know that you are a country & a continent, best of luck in the Olympic games!
— SNHU (@SNHU) February 9, 2018
Arnold told Scary Mommy a little more about how this insane situation finally got resolved:
“My grade was changed to a grade I earned and I am now in a class with a different instructor. The university has been working with me throughout the process. I am ready to put this issue behind me and I still plan to graduate in May from SNHU. I have worked hard to graduate and this incident does not affect my attitude towards the university or the degree that I am working very hard to achieve. If anything, I feel grateful that I go to a university that both listens to and values their students. I am very happy with this resolution and can’t wait to visit Australia.”
And we’re sure that the country of Australia will welcome her with open arms.