A mathematics and statistics professor at York University in Canada drew major criticism online for refusing to give a remote student caught in Myanmar’s military coup a deferral for their exam.
Screenshots of the email exchange posted on Twitter on March 18 show professor Emanoil Theodorescu berating a student after being asked for a deferral as Myanmar’s military announced a communication blackout during the civil unrest in the country, according to CBS News.
Have you ever been so York’d that you’ve been told to take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for missing an exam because the military junta in your country (Myanmar) was shutting down the internet?
— National Meme Board of Canada (@NMBCanada) March 18, 2021
“There is no deferral. It’s transferred to the final exam. Last chance, bad sign,” Theodorescu told the student after being informed of the communications blackout in Myanmar. “Even the Internet came down with COVID-19?”
In response, the student explained there was a coup in Myanmar.
“Almost 200 protesters have been shot,” the student said. “The regime has decided to shut off all communications.”
“Does this mean that now my final exam will be worth 60% of my grade now?” the student asked in the email, to which Theodorescu answered, “Something like that.”
When asked whether the student should worry about missing the exam, Theodorescu responded, “The next time you miss something, it’s over.”
“By the way, your remarks (both related to this course and to your home country) made me wonder how you understand reality,” the professor added. “People don’t get shot for just protesting, but for a lot deeper reasons. And with loading everything on the final exam – it’s going to be tough to pass the course – for lack of practice, if nothing else.”
Social media users expressed their outrage at the professor’s handling of the situation.
I had the same thought and checked. He’s real and existing student feedback is consistent with the e-mail.https://t.co/6WenYaoWne
— Apocalypse Slouch (@dirkster42_) March 18, 2021
I’ve had a lot of good educators, so I’m trying to not generalize too broadly, but why the fuck are educators like this? I’ve had teachers who told us we wouldn’t get extensions even if we were hospitalized with COVID, and this is waaaaay worse.
— Original JC (@ReallyRealJC) March 18, 2021
Our unarmed civilians are being killed.. how could you say this to us.. please have some empathy towards us..we have no weapon..our people are being killed and tortured by junta everyday.. our human rights were taken away too.. this email made me really sad..
— Ivory The Artist ✨ (@ivory_art) March 19, 2021
Hey Prof,your student is trying harder than any of your students in his academia.The Junta cut the internet so that *people like u* wont know abt the massacre.Despite the massacre going on inMyanmar,he NEVER GAVEUP on doinwell for the exam u unreasonably refuse to help him defer. pic.twitter.com/jvHpO3NnfP
— violetflame (@RainbowTara1) March 19, 2021
I know a math instructor isn’t expected to know, like, history or politics or sociology or whatever, but if he thinks that “people don’t get shot for just protesting” then he shouldn’t be a prof of anything.
— Else Marie Knudsen (@elsebelle) March 18, 2021
York University addressed the situation in a statement on March 19, citing “appropriate actions” were taken once they learned of the exchange.
“We would like to assure all concerned that senior staff from the Faculty were able to directly make contact with the student the night of the exchange with the instructor, and clearly expressed support for their difficult circumstance and well-being, and further, assured them that necessary accommodations would be granted,” Barbara Joy, Chief Spokesperson and Director Media Relations and External Communications at York U, said.
The school is also creating “alternate arrangements” for how the course will be taught.
Myanmar’s military, known as the junta, arrested high-ranking government officials in a coup that began on Feb. 1. There have been at least 211 deaths since the takeover, Associated Press reported on March 20.