Professor Sues Student, University After Provost Overrules Her and Awards Him a Participation Grade

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

There is an interesting case unfolding at Fairfield University in Connecticut. While it is not unusual these days for students to take action against teachers, administrations or the universities themselves, in this case it is the teacher suing the university and even a student.


The case has been filed by Sharlene McEvoy, a business law professor who has been at the school since 1986. In 2020, in-person classes were of course canceled due to COVID. Joseph Moran was taking one of McEvoy’s classes. The final exam counted for the entire grade for the course, so obviously it was prudent to at least take the test. According to McEvoy, she mailed the test out on May 28. She included return envelopes and paid not only for the postage but also the tracking. The completed exams needed to be at her home address by June 12. McEvoy said that she was very clear that late work would not be accepted and would result in a failing grade.

Moran, according to the suit, mailed his exam on June 8 and failed to track the delivery. It arrived at McEvoy’s home on June 16. The result? An F. Unsatisfied with the fruit of his labors or lack thereof, Moran then contacted the department chair, a violation of the school’s grievance policy, to complain. He felt McEvoy would be biased when it came to evaluating the exam. McEvoy did grade the test and Moran earned a C. Hey, it’s not an A, but it beats an F, doesn’t it? But that concession was not enough and Moran took his gripe to the administration. The provost changed the grade to “pass” since McEvoy’s grade of C was “prejudiced.”

McEvoy’s suit states that Moran’s accusation of bias was defamatory and that the provost herself violated the grievance policy. The university’s attorney argued that McEvoy had not exhausted the available remedies and had not attended Moran’s grievance hearing. McEvoy’s side contends that she was not permitted to attend.


The upshot appears to be that Moran failed to follow the rules, despite the fact that they were clearly stated and that he was equipped to meet the obligation of turning in his exam in a timely manner. When the obvious outcome occurred, he complained until he got what he wanted, which was not necessarily what he earned.  Could it in fact be that he felt he deserved a better grade by default? A “participation” A?

Related: Witch Hunt: University Opens Investigation Into Student Who Stated Biological Fact

If you are a functioning adult, or for that matter, a functioning teen, chances are you have discovered by now that life is unfair, an observation that appears to have escaped the student in question. And let’s be honest. Life itself is fickle as hell. Things happen no matter your worldview. If you get a frightening diagnosis, you cannot sue the disease for custody of your body. If you are up on a ladder, say painting, changing a light bulb, or stringing up Christmas lights and feel the ladder begin to wobble, you can’t negotiate with gravity for a better offer. And on the way down, you cannot simply decide that gravity does not apply to you. Trust me, I know. To put it bluntly, stuff happens, and there isn’t a thing you can do about it. And complaining about a failing grade because you did not do what you were instructed to do does not equip you for those moments in life where you do not get what you want, or may even legitimately deserve, through no fault of your own. That does happen from time to time.


Like nature, life is frequently red in tooth and claw. Not everything is going to be a nice, easy pitch down the middle. Life throws sliders and curves. Just ask the Cleveland Indians, Guardians, whatever they end up being called.

I talk with people who have coworkers significantly younger than themselves. Ninety-nine percent of them are young enough to be their children. These coworkers, for the most part, are all legitimately nice, bright, and talented people in their 20s and early 30s. They are very good at following written directions. But if a problem arises that requires independent or strategic thought, they became lost very quickly. As long as things are spelled out for them or there is an algorithm, they are fine. But if they have to find the answers on their own or find a creative way to solve a problem, then the wheels come off. But despite the advances in A.I., there are, as of yet, no algorithms for real life.

Maybe I’m becoming old and cranky. Okay, I AM old and cranky, but to be fair, I’ve been that way since I was 30. But there is something very unsettling about a generation that does not think for itself or, in this case, cannot or will not even follow written instructions. In fact, there is something frightening about such a generation: one that cannot assume basic responsibility for managing its time or its work and feels slighted when life does the things that life will do.


It has been said by some conservative commentators that the woke philosophy, CRT, and the whole cornucopia of leftist thought is dumbing down students. It is bad enough that the next generation will come into its majority with the idea that it cannot function without supervision. It is chilling when that generation believes that it does not need to function since someone else will do that job for them. Apparently, it is not so much that they feel helpless as much as they feel entitled to everyone else’s services. Or perhaps a better word would be… privileged?



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