Urged, Asked, Required, Forced?

There seems to be no dispute amongst media reports that Professor Sharon Sweet of Brevard Community College asked the students in her class to sign a pledge that said “I pledge to vote for President Obama and Democrats up and down the ticket.” Sweet has since asked for, and been granted, an unpaid leave of absence.

Here's what's in dispute: did she ask them to sign it, suggest that they sign it, require them to sign it, or order them to sign it?

It depends on who's reporting.

Florida today says "urged." Channel 13 says "solicited" and "urged." Human Events says "urged."

But Pat Dollard says "required" and "told," and The Blaze says "forcing" and "required."

Do Dollard and The Blaze have some inside source feeding them evidence that Sweet used coercion rather than inappropriate, unprofessional, and illegal persuasion? Are they making a hidden argument that a community college professor's suggestion in this context is inherently so coercive as to justify "forced" and "required"?

Or was the reported story just not sufficiently cinematic for them? Are they just full of shit?

I hate campus electioneering towards captive audiences. (And it's worse when it's electioneering for very stupid people, like "vote straight ticket.") If Sharon Sweet did this during class, they should fire her ass forthwith.

But why make stuff up to make it sound worse?

It's the silly season. Bear in mind — 95% of what you hear that includes the word "Obama" or "Romney" is bullshit.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. wgering says

    Wait, are you saying that mass media can be used as a tool to misinform the public by spinning stories and twisting facts? And that this misinformation could be (*gasp!*) politically motivated?!?!

    I think I may faint from the shock of this betrayal.

  2. Valerie says

    Its unprofessional even if she just "asked." As a teacher with the power to issue grades, simply asking students to sign such a pledge is intimidation. She does not have to say anything – they all know she has the power in the student-teacher relationship. I am a teacher, and I am personally voting for Obama, but I would never bring this crap into a classroom. She ought to encourage them to vote, but beyond that, she should STFU. The irony, of course, is that when people pull this shit, they alienate the people they are trying to recruit to the cause – nobody, especially young adults, appreciate being told what to do.

  3. Adrian Ratnapala says

    My guess is that they are "just full of shit." ask Ken suggests.

    The most likely explanation for the word "forced" is an extension of Valerie's argument about teachers and their position of power. "A request from a King in his own hall is a command". Thus in the context "suggest"=="force", or so the argument goes.

    While such arguments have some merit, the presumption should be against them. It would be a sad situation if every suggestion we made was treated as "coercion", at the slightest hint of a power imbalance.

  4. nlp says

    The comments from Rate My Professor are all over the place, which is not uncommon. What surprises me is that the request came from a Math professor rather than someone in the Humanities section.

    I've had teachers and professors make comments about various politicians, and even mentioned who they preferred, but I've never heard of anyone asking students to sign a pledge of this sort. I admit I'm curious. What made her think she could do such a thing?

  5. TTC says

    Ken, I think you are off base here.

    The definition of urge urge
       [urj] Show IPA ,verb, urged, urg·ing, noun
    verb (used with object)
    to push or force along; impel with force or vigor: to urge the cause along.
    to drive with incitement to speed or effort: to urge dogs on with shouts.
    to press, push, or hasten (the course, activities, etc.): to urge one's escape.
    to impel, constrain, or move to some action: urged by necessity.
    to endeavor to induce or persuade, as by entreaties; entreat or exhort earnestly

    Clearly it is something more then passively asking.

  6. James Pollock says

    I'm a little bit concerned that anyone actually thinks that this person's actions had or will have any affect on the election whatsoever. (Not arguing that it was unprofessional and just plain stupid, as that's fairly obvious (I hope) unless there is information not yet brought forward.)

    It makes no difference whether the students were asked to sign a pledge or forced to by force of arms, as our elections feature secret balloting (although, with the current push to voter ID laws, can a push for vote ID be far behind? You know, so that if we find out someone was ineligible to vote after the election, we can go back and delete that person's vote…)

    There should be no intimidation where there is no threat to back it up. Since the teacher can't know how the students ACTUALLY vote, the teacher can't punish the ones who vote Romney nor reward the ones who vote Obama. I would hope that college students could work this out on their own.

  7. says

    Ken: Are they making a hidden argument that a community college professor's suggestion in this context is inherently so coercive as to justify "forced" and "required"?

    It doesn't really seem to differ from laws that make consensual sex between a teacher and an otherwise-legal student illegal on the assumption that the teacher has an implied power to coerce through grading.

    The Blaze article quoted something from Florida law that does seem applicable. A fairly straightforward ban on electioneering on "company" time by state employees; looks like a state version of the Hatch Act…

    Never mind. If Sebelius can violate that one, why can't this math teacher?

    RE 95%.
    Seriously underestimating there, Ken. [grin]

  8. AlphaCentauri says

    Some people consider a signed pledge to be their binding word. You can't dismiss that. The courts still dangle a Bible in front of people and have have them take oaths before testifying, even if they're atheist, and even though very few people of any religion really think God is going to take revenge on anyone if they lie under oath.

  9. Anony Mouse says

    "I'm a little bit concerned that anyone actually thinks that this person's actions had or will have any affect on the election whatsoever."

    It's not a matter the effect it has on the election; it's the effect it would have on the students. Many (most?) students wouldn't have the gumption to challenge a teacher when presented something like this. Back when I was in school I did, but it wasn't during an election year with everyone lashing out at everyone else.

    Even if it has no real effect on how anyone votes, bringing something like this to class, where even questioning its appropriateness could potentially harm one's grade, is far beyond the pale. The fact that it's a math teacher just makes it weirder, not any less coercive.

    Besides, "they could just lie" shouldn't be an excuse to let something like this slide. Her inability to verify is irrelevant.

  10. Jake says

    I attend a community college in florida (not this one), and while I've personally never had anything as extreme as this happen, it's fairly common for professors to imply their chosen political stance is so obviously correct that it's inconceivable anyone in the room might disagree with them. My favorite is when they go "Nobody here believes X, right?" This happens with both ends of the spectrum.

    My gay, agnostic, roommate had to sit through a philosophy course where the professor made near constant remarks that caused him extreme discomfort (right wing / religious stuff – he's not antagonistic to either of these things particularly, but HATES people pushing them on him). The thing that bothered me the most though was that this was a philosophy class, and anyone who teaches philosophy should have a moral and ethical framework more developed than the average person – and he obviously doesn't if he's choosing to subject a captive audience to his personal belief system. I understand when the average person does this, lot's of people just don't think through the full implications of their actions – but that's practically the job description of a philosopher (granted, professor of philosophy isn't exactly the same thing, but you'd think it would rub off).

  11. says

    I'm with Valerie and Kat.

    I do wonder what happened to the olden days when who you voted for was none of anyone's damn business unless you chose to talk about it. Am remembering 2000, when Cuba jokingly offered to come monitor our elections.

  12. says


    You're expecting journalists to crisply understand the definition of words?

    That's kinda naive, no?

    And, for the record, I'm 100% serious about this – the average journalist major I've known has a smaller, less crisply defined vocabulary than the average liberal arts major, who in turn has a smaller and less crisply defined vocabulary than the average engineering or hard science major.

    Yeah, I know that the stereotype is the 800 Math / 400 Verbal engineer, but I've known a heck of a lot 700/650 engineers and a lot of 450/520 artsies.

  13. Ajitater says

    While I understand your anger, is it conceivable that The Blaze (or at least WatchdogWire, whom they cite) got the tone right and the other journals got it wrong?

    The question is purely hypothetical, because after clicking a few links it appears that no one is willing to quote any sort of interaction between the professor and the students. It's certain that publications tailor their tone toward their audience, but I don't think it's anymore bullshit than AP radio reporting that President Obama "chided" former Governor Mitt Romney on some issue. Grains of salt, man. Or maybe it's too many grains of salt leading to hypertension. :)

  14. Ajitater says

    Oh, boo, even before I submitted that comment I read no such strong language in the Watchdog Wire report and forgot to edit it. Cest la vie.

  15. Lisa says

    A few years ago, while working at SF State, I went to a 'leadership development' conference to which all student orgs were required to send reps if they wanted to keep their charter.

    The first hour of the conference was watching a video describing how Republicans had destroyed the state economy, and how absolutely vital it was to vote Democrat in November.

    No student could leave before the end of the conference, or their club wouldn't be allowed to operate as a Student Org.

    It was so appalling, I could only thank my lucky stars I'd registered as independent.

  16. Lisa says

    Okay, maybe not an hour.

    But on a Saturday morning on a college campus, any meeting seems long, and being forced to sit through a totally inappropriate video just made it worse…

  17. Skip Intro says

    Ken, I only take exception with one thing you write here, and that's the implication that straight-ticket voting is stupid. I quite disagree.

    Most people have few incentives to consume political information, a candidate's party label is the single best predictor of her actions in office, and most political institutions (at least at the state and national levels) are largely structured by political parties. It is therefore rational for most citizens to choose which of the two major parties makes them better off (or, if you're a cynic, less worse off) and vote straight ticket for that party.

  18. PLW says

    @Skip Intro: If you want to model people as rationally weighing off the costs and benefits of acquiring information for voting behavior, you need to also model them as rational in weighing the costs and benefits of voting at all. People who govern their behavior in the way you suggest are probably not showing up at the polls at all.

  19. ShelbyC says

    Meh. "My boss asked me to sweep the floor.", "My boss told me to sweep the floor.", "My boss required me to sweep the floor." all pretty much mean the same thing. And I can't seem to read an article on, say, binding arbitration without someone using "forced" to mean required.

    I don't see "forced" as much different than the term "captive audience" in the OP.

  20. Grifter says

    Ken, I'm very disappointed with you.

    95% of what you hear that includes the word "Obama" or "Romney is bullshit.

    We all know the percentage is higher than that!

    (I kid, I kid…)

    I actually am very curious about what language she used.

  21. Dan Weber says

    When I saw the headline I thought this was going to be about Obama "asking" Google to review their video.

    I can see all four of "urging," "asking," "requiring," and "forcing" being legitimate terms to honestly describe what happened in the classroom. Anytime there is such an imbalance of power, those with power have to be careful.

    In my high school civics class, contracts were signed by the students about classroom behavior, on penalty of grades. I still resent that. (Note my clever and cowardly use of the passive voice.)

  22. Skip Intro says


    Indeed, most of the people who are least informed don't vote. But I don't think that changes the fact that the party label is an effective information shortcut or that straight-ticket voting should work to the benefit of most Americans.

  23. William says

    James Pollock: There should be no intimidation where there is no threat to back it up. Since the teacher can't know how the students ACTUALLY vote, the teacher can't punish the ones who vote Romney nor reward the ones who vote Obama. I would hope that college students could work this out on their own.

    The problem is that you still have an instance of compelled speech. A signed pledge might not force someone to vote one way or another, but if a teacher were to put a pledge in front of me and "ask," "urge," or "require" me to sign it I would certainly perceive a threat towards my grade. This might be more likely in a less objective course than math, but to suggest that there is no harm here because it won't actually influence a vote seems to be missing the point.

  24. Gavin says

    Regardless of the word, this professor broke the law.
    Why do you assume that either source is right and the others are wrong? Do you have a special source yourself that would favor one or the other? At this moment all we know is that the professor broke a law and a policy of her employer.

    Blaze cited campus reform which sounds like the bottom turtle to investigate:


    If the professor was going to take up these documents that were signed by the students, they would likely feel obligated to sign the document and/or fear potential consequences for not doing so. This is coercion even if she didn't intend to force them. The desire not to be on their bad side or the need to ingratiate themselves with the professor is enough to warrant the word "compelled" or "coerced". So, even without a source you can make a case for the coercion angle if you have a little other information (that she handed them out and asked them to sign them). Even the knowledge that she's watching me sign or not sign it would color my decision. At the end of the day, why would a student want to risk getting a bad grade or an unfair grade for the sake of a piece of paper (keep in mind, students regularly request an improved grade or extra credit assignments at the end of the semester, they need to be on their goodside for such things).

    I'm somewhat conflicted with these laws but I understand in the case of public/government workers being restricted in this way as the potential for malicious use of their voice by their employers is a serious threat. My main conflict as I've said before is with pastors being unable to talk about politics from their own pulpit in their own private land and building without facing the fear of jail time or losing their not for profit status (an ipso facto law meant that has become a law against the establishment of religion in my opinion, but no one seems to care about that).

  25. Gavin says

    TLDR version:

    The nature of her position as a professor who can hand out good or bad grades and potentially give extra credit/grade bumps as she so desires can make her imploring the students to sign the pledge an act of coercion because of their need to stay on her good side should she see them not signing it or if they turn them in, should see not see their signatures amongst the documents. I have been coerced in college to say or do things I didn't particularly agree with in similar settings. Nothing illegal like this though.

  26. says

    I think "forced" or "required" implies explicit commands.

    If the use of that rhetoric is based on the argument that a professor has inherent power over students (which is true, and is the basis for laws and college rules forbidding such conduct), it should be stated explicitly. "Forced" and "required" used sloppily to contain an argument suggests (maybe truthfully, maybe not, but without apparent evidence) that the professor said something like "if you want to pass this class, you have to sign."

  27. Gavin says


    Why must it be explicit? Is that how the law specifies coercion? Does only having implied or inferred consequences get people off the hook of coercion? What's the precedence here? I seem to remember some implied consequences (particularly in business law) being upheld pretty strongly as coercion.

    I think the nature of the relationship between a teacher and student naturally leans towards being willing to do whatever they ask of you or else fear the bad-grade-hammer. Do you not thing that there could be reasonable fear of not signing this document resulting in potentially negative consequences?

    It's kinda like going to a football game with my employer if I'm hoping to network for a better job. If he roots for the opposite team then at the very least I'm going to tone down my own rooting for the duration of that game just for the fear of it negatively impacting the results.

    It is not unreasonable to think that her position being what it is, a position of power, made this situation one of duress.

  28. says

    Gavin: I'm not sure what you mean by "must be." I think it's bad reporting if it isn't explicit. I suspect that sites that say "forced" or "required" are trying to pump up the election-year narrative. Or, alternatively, if there is evidence that she actually used explicit rather than implied coercion, the news sites are pursuing a pro-Obama narrative by minimizing the conduct.

    I don't like that.

  29. Mannie says

    Ken • Sep 18, 2012 @8:53 am

    I think "forced" or "required" implies explicit commands.

    Nice grade you've got there. It would be a shame if anything happened to it.

  30. James Pollock says

    There's a good possibility that you have a Rashomon situation here… people who were sitting in the classroom that day may well have perceived things differently, some seeing "asked" and some seeing "required", and the resulting answer depending, in part, on which witness you ask.

    For students, there are more than two choices (sign/don't sign). For example, some of them are likely to have been Obama voters anyway; I think we can safely ignore them. Some of them might be non-voters; I think we can ignore them, too.
    The non-Obama voters are faced with the sign/don't sign choice, but then the other choice comes into play, as students are NOT powerless. They can complain to the school's administrators preemptively, they can wait to see what their grade is and then complain to the school's administrators (These will tend to ensure that their grading is fair, but have no effect on the election), they can go public (this will affect the election, and may or may not ensure that their grading is fair), or as I noted before, they can sign the stupid sheet and then vote for whoever they please.

  31. says

    @James: That's certainly possible. If so, did the people who say "forced" talk to students who perceived it that way?

    What I'm getting at is: did they have their own sources, or did they see the story in Florida media and punch it up from "urged" to "forced" and "required" because those sound worse and suit their political ends better?

  32. James Pollock says

    Gavin, if I have more power than the guy I want to form a contract with, and having more power than the other guy automatically creates an implied threat, and an implied threat automatically creates coercion, how can we enter into any contract at all?

  33. Gavin says


    Yes, that is a good question: Did they see the other article and punch it up in a little bit of yellow journalism?

    What I'm guessing really happened is just that she passed out a bunch of information and this pledge card was merely in the packet. I see no evidence that it was even mentioned in discussion. I do think someone is getting crucified here for a simple mistake.

    If it wasn't even mentioned, then this is all really really dumb. If she did, though, then I stand by the idea that coercion may be justifiably argued. As James stated, you may have different perspectives on it depending on who is asked.

    @James Pollock,

    What relationship do you and I have in this scenario? Am I a student in your class, are you my employer? If you are in a position of authority over me then it depends on the type of contract you wish to enter with me and how the deal is done. A lot of times, coercion is in the eye of the beholder. How many employers have you seen who really thought the secretary loved them and didn't think they were coercing them into sex (even though she had two kids at home and desperately needed the job in such a bad economy)? If the woman says she was coerced then I've seen them win that a lot. If not, maybe they get married and live happily ever after. It all seems to hinge on the coercee, if you will. In this scenario a person is already breaking the law by distributing the documents at all, so I think this potentially subjective angle may carry more weight more easily.

  34. jeannebodine says

    Diverting the discussion from the significant & disturbing incident to the reporting of it in the way that you've done appears to attempt to delegitimize and ridicule 2 of the reporters, thereby helping to neutralize and de-fang this troubling story.

  35. says

    You're right, I'm in the tank for Obama and a long-term supporter of abuses of student rights by professors. You've caught me out.

  36. Gavin says

    This isn't significant. This is an associate professor in a community college in the middle of nowhere.

    It is "disturbing" in that her actions were unethical/illegal but of all the things I've heard professors doing lately she might as well have been caught farting upwind. "Oh no, a person is handing out documents to us, we can't possibly think for ourselves when it's time to vote!"

    Until we see that she requested they sign that document, which appears to have been just part of a larger packet, then I don't see anything being forced.

  37. Walter 59 says

    "There seems to be no dispute amongst media reports that Professor Sharon Sweet of Brevard Community College asked the students in her class to sign a pledge that said “I pledge to vote for President Obama and Democrats up and down the ticket.”"

    from FD…."A Brevard Community College math instructor is being investigated for allegedly using class time to urge students to vote for President Obama and for distributing campaign material that says “I pledge to vote for President Obama and Democrats up and down the ticket.""

    from 13 News…."Sweet reportedly distributed voter pledge cards in class, urging voters to support President Obama and other Democratic candidates."

    from Human Events…."According to the complaint, Sweet has been using class time to urge students to vote for Barack Obama, and even handed out campaign materials that included a “pledge to vote for President Obama and Democrats up and down the ticket.”

    where did the part about SIGNING a pledge come from?

  38. Walter 59 says

    do you happen to have a copy of the Pledge to Vote card these students were urged to sign? Is it a Pledge to Vote or a Pledge to Vote for Obama?

  39. Gavin says

    @Walter 59,

    You're reading it slightly different than I am now. I read it the same way you are at first but after reading a few more it turns out that this card was just part of the material she handed out and there is no source that says she asked them to sign it, only that it was included in the material.

    Turns out that they're bookmarks:

    I think things are being blown the heck up. She did make a mistake. But I don't think it's what people think it is right now.

  40. Gavin says

    It appears that the watchdog link is the earliest article I can find (from the 16th) and is the only one that claims a firsthand account. Interesting.

  41. Walter 59 says

    I stand corrected then….all I'm saying is that from the stories linked to that she passed out the material but I don't see where she urged them to sign the pledge to vote card

  42. kt says

    Urged, Asked, Required, Forced? Does it matter? She should not be bringing this political thing into the classroom. She is a math teacher.

  43. John David Galt says

    If one of my professors "urged" me to sign something like that, I would drop the class rather than refuse, because such a "suggestion" is obviously a threat to my GPA whether the prof has said so or not. The notion that it even might be otherwise is like the notion that there is such a thing as a voluntary encounter with police (where you are not the one who sought them out) — a complete fairy tale.

  44. James Pollock says

    Mr. Galt, how, exactly, is it a threat to your GPA? (If it IS a threat, it's a particularly empty one.) Besides the fact that you have the option of going to the department head, the academic dean, the college's President (if ALL of these are against you, you are probably in the wrong school) there's still the fact that your ballot is secret.

  45. Terry says

    It depends on who's reporting.

    Florida today says "urged." Channel 13 says "solicited" and "urged." Human Events says "urged."

    But Pat Dollard says "required" and "told," and The Blaze says "forcing" and "required."

    Do Dollard and The Blaze have some inside source feeding them evidence that Sweet used coercion rather than inappropriate, unprofessional, and illegal persuasion?

    Actually, it looks like you're the one involved in twisting facts if anything.

    Why would you assume that the teacher simply "asked" the students?

    Isn't it just as likely under the present circumstances to assume that the teacher was pressuring the students and that the news outlets like Florida and Channel 13 are "soft-peddling" using euphamisms?

    Again, teachers by their very position do not simply "ask".

    If a teacher said to a student "you should stay after school", that's hardly a "suggestion". That's actually an "order". And nothing needs to be said about consequences, let alone your marks if you told that teacher to "buzz off".

    Yeah, I think you should check your own arrogant presumptions at the door before advising others.

  46. Terry says

    As this article states, what Sharon Sweet did was not simply "urge", she actively tried to use her position to get a captive audience to vote for Obama, even arguing with a student in class.


    As you can see by the article linked, what Sharon Sweet did went far beyond "urging", as some of your "soft" news outlets tried to imply. Morever, I notice that the outlets you were pushing go even so far as to cover up the salient fact of this story: What Sharon Sweet did was not simply "solicitation";

    By Florida law, it is a CRIME.

  47. rainy says

    The point is that this " assistant math instructor " should've kept her political views to herself. Campaign on your own time Ms. Sweet.
    The fact that she requested leave of absence is interesting..guilty as charged.

  48. Walter 59 says

    from the Examiner via Fox News…..“I pledge to vote for President Obama and Democrats up and down the ticket,” read the pledge that Professor Sweet allegedly required students to sign."

    allegedly? Is it because your source is Fox News you have to qualify your statement by using allegedly?

    this is what Ken should have said….Here's what's in dispute: did she ask them to vote for Obama and pass out campaign literature, suggest that they vote for Obama and pass out campaign literature that contained a pledge to vote bookmark, require them to vote for Obama and pass out campaign literature that contained a pledge to vote card, allegedly require the students to sign a pledge to vote card or order them to sign it?

    we all agree what she did was wrong but if I'm not mistaken the topic here was the media(and I guess bloggers) adding "juice" to a story

  49. Gavin says

    None of the other sources said she asked them to sign it. She handed it out and it's just a bookmark. We all agree that she shouldn't have used her politically nuetral public office to campaign like that, but there is no evidence that she tried to have them sign the pledge there in the classroom. If she did try to have them sign it, then I'll recant, but right now the only news source with first hand sources did not say she asked them to sign it.

    I've read through all the news articles I could, they all say things slight different. For example, they don't seem to know whether or not she is an associate or an assistant professor.

    Ken, I know I disagreed with you at first but the evidence on your side is mounting and I'm no arrogant fool that holds onto the wrong side. It seems like she just handed out a bookmark (a bookmark, the most benign thing a teacher can give a student unless they're terrified of paper cuts) and emplored that they go vote. She may have asked them to vote for Obama but it doesn't actually say that. Hell, this bookmark is supposed to lead to a resource that gives facts about the campaigns in the elect. If she didn't directly solicit for Obama verbally then this could just be a way to have them be more politically informed.

    I can't wait for some actual real information. We could potentially be seeing a person getting unjustly abused by the yellow journalism and that should worry any of us.

  50. James Pollock says

    Terry says:
    "Again, teachers by their very position do not simply "ask".
    If a teacher said to a student "you should stay after school", that's hardly a "suggestion". That's actually an "order". "

    I suppose, if you're talking about primary or secondary education, where the teacher is backed by the truant officer. But we're not. We're talking about community college, where the average age of the students is about 35. Community college instructors (not generally "professors") simply don't have the kind of authority you imagine.

  51. Chris R. says

    I generally try to keep politics out of the workplace. I've even worked at companies that do not allow you to express political views on the clock. If she had an open discussion about the election, it might have been cool, but that behavior is worthy of reprimand. Why does everything become a media circus though?

  52. Gavin says

    From what the student said, she was in the habbit of regularly espousing her political beliefs in class (bear in mind that this is algebra, not social studies). In this particular class she even debated with an older student from time to time. Yes, she is completely unprofessional and probably should have been warned.

  53. princessartemis says

    I recall when I attended a community college. It was pretty laid back and even though I started attending when I was seventeen, I don't think I would have been terribly surprised or thought it out of place if an instructor had a political discussion there. I never felt compelled to take my instructors' opinions as my own in order to get a good grade. Mostly because it really was quite laid back and I was not there compulsorily but by choice. There is a power difference between teachers and students, but I sense that at the community college level, where tuition is inexpensive and student ages typically are much more varied than at a four-year, it isn't as significant an imbalance as it can be at a university, in elementary, or in graduate school.

    This is, of course, just how I felt attending a community college. I think I would have felt differently about it if one of my university major professors had passed out such a bookmark than if one of my community college general ed professors had. It would have raised an eyebrow regardless.

  54. says

    It really depends on the demographics of this particular community college. I work at one now, and have worked at another in the past. The one I worked at before it would not have been entirely out of place for this to happen and the students would not take it as a threat. Students there were mostly from middle-class families and born to college educated parents and did not look at professors as major authority figures that hold their future in their grade pens. They were just teachers, and this would have been taken in stride there and most would have blown her off.

    But where I am now it would be a drastically different story. I now work at a college that serves a very low income area. Students here are the first in their families to come to college, and almost all of them are here on financial aid. Movies have taught them – and most are never convinced otherwise – that college professors are arbitrary and vindictive. Add to that that a failing grade can destroy their financial aid and obliterate all the hopes for the future that their entire family has placed upon them as the first to go to college, and these students spend most of their time at least a little terrified of pissing off their teachers. All of them would have signed under the described circumstances, because in that environment they would perceive it as a very clear and overwhelming threat.

  55. Walter 59 says

    former federal prosecutor "gins up" story in post about media "ginning up" stories….commenters convict CC instructor on the basis of "ginned up" story

    is it satire, irony or just that old habits are hard to break?

    from one of the stories anyway…“There is an older gentleman in the class that will argue with her but he said most of the students did not,” the student reportedly noted." The CC instructor taught a couple of classes. This is what I want to know….did she force the students to sign the voter pledge (the crime the commenters have convicted her of) in ALL her classes or just the class where the older white racist tea party heckler disrupted her class?

  56. cosmic zamboni says

    My daughter's boyfriend is in one of her classes. She would pass this out and tell students "if you sign it you'll likely get a good grade". wink wink. Kind of like "if you sleep with me you'll get a good grade", eh?

  57. Gavin says

    @Cosmic Zamboni,

    Um… no, don't get me wrong, this would definitely be unethical and illegal but it's a far cry from giving grades for sexual favors albeit still exchanging illegal favors.

    Has there been any update here? Perhaps better than three degrees of seperation?

  58. Walter 59 says

    well, at least we have that cleared up….she didn't threaten them with failure or a lower grade if they didn't sign

    it's almost like she's offering them extra credit. When I was in school extra credit was deemed as done voluntarily and certainly not forced or required.

    so according to cosmic's daughters boyfriend it was the Blaze that was "ginning up" the story

    who woulda thunk?

  59. James Pollock says

    Walter, I think a reasonable (implied) corollary to "if you sign this you'll get a good grade" is "and if you don't, you won't". (Depends on the presentation, of course… the funny thing about sarcasm is that it often fails to be conveyed effectively in print.)

  60. Walter 59 says

    I guess cosmic's daughter's boyfriend missed that reasonable (implied) corollary because I'm sure he would have mentioned that

  61. Gavin says

    But my uncle's sister's ex-boyfriend's nephew's pet turtle said that she promised to give them all a carrot if they signed it. All those who did not sign it would therefore not be given a carrot.

  62. Walter 59 says

    actually Gavin, using James's "reasonable (implied) corollary", all those who did not sign it would be shot in the head and be made into soup