In the spring semester of my sophomore year, I had enrolled in a Criminal Justice class that focused on the study of victims of crime. I took this class partially because it seemed intriguing but also because I had previously been taught by the professor and had really enjoyed the experience.
One of our last days in the semester, I had been running late to class and brought my laptop with me to take notes rather than doing them by hand. My laptop, which I had brought to his class in a previous semester, was covered in political stickers, and in particular, a Marco Rubio presidential sticker.
That day we were learning about a program many states have put in place to help victims of crime. It was a program meant to increase community relationships with police and increase the reporting of crimes. With this program, if a victim filed a report with the police about a robbery, for example, then the police would attempt to find the offender and then mandate the robber pay out a sum of money either immediately or over a period of time to repay any damages. However, this also meant that if the offender was not found, the state would cover the cost of the damages, with tax dollars.
After explaining the program to the class, my professor asked for the class’ thoughts on it. Being a staunch fiscal conservative, I, of course, had an opinion on the issue. My professor called on me, and I began to voice my concerns that this program would not actually increase victims’ will to report an incident and would instead simply be throwing money at a problem. I didn’t even think at the time to mention how this could encourage people to falsely report crimes in order to receive the money the state would eventually be giving them.
We then moved on to the powerpoint slide that explained the ideology backing up this program. One was titled ‘The Moral Justification.’ My professor pulled up the slide and announced to the class, “Amber would disagree with this statement because Marco Rubio would shudder at a program like this.” The class remained mostly quiet, and though I was offended to be rudely called out for my support of Marco Rubio, I didn’t let him have the satisfaction of knowing he had offended me.
What was perhaps the greatest part about this class period was that on the next slide we looked at the program evaluation results, which in fact proved that I was right to say that this program did nothing to better the relationship between victims and the police. My professor didn’t take the time to mention that, of course.
After all of that, I thought that this situation was done and over with. For our final exam, which included the lesson we had gone over that day in class, I found myself answering a very political essay question. As I said earlier on, this was my second time taking this professor for a class. Because of that, I was very familiar with the format he typically used for his exams, so I always had a fair idea of what types of questions to expect. While every exam always contained two or three essay questions, this time was the first time I ever encountered one that asked for a personal opinion.
Staring at my exam, I read the final question. It stated: Using your personal beliefs, share your thoughts on this program. The professor already knew what my personal beliefs were on this issue, so lying wasn’t an option. So I presented the same argument about how the program was ineffective, highlighting the fact that it was evaluated and found to be unproductive. Now, because this was the final exam I had no way to take a photograph of this specific question to bring it up later. Nor could I look at the exam after it was graded to notice where I had lost points on the exam. However, this was the first time I received a grade lower than an A- on any of his exams. I literally got like a steady 97, 96, 98, on the previous three exams because I always knew what to expect and studied very hard because I respected the professor so much. Somehow this exam, which I never got a chance to look over, was a B-, lowering my grade from an A- to a B+ and making my life that much harder to raise my GPA.
Who knows, perhaps I really fucked up on the multiple choice section and he graded my ‘personal beliefs’ fairly. I’m not even sure how you can grade someone on their personal beliefs or why that was relevant to learning about victimology. If anything, the question should have asked for you to explain the program and state how a program like this could potentially help individuals who cannot afford to simply bounce back from being victimized. Regardless, it seemed as though my professor could not put politics, or a differing opinion for that matter, aside to be professional.