This post has been updated.
For Texas A&M at Galveston professor Irwin Horwitz, “enough was enough.”
Enough of what, exactly? Cheating, being told to “chill out,” being called a moron, fights among students, being the subject of rumors, feeling unsafe in his own classroom.
At least, those are the reasons he gave in an e-mail to his strategic management class last week, when he informed students that he was quitting the course — and leaving every one of them with a failing grade.
“None of you, in my opinion, given the behavior in this class, deserve to pass, or graduate to become an Aggie, as you do not in any way embody the honor that the university holds graduates should have within their personal character,” he wrote in the e-mail, which was published by Inside Higher Ed.
He followed up with a second e-mail to administrators at the school, informing them of what he’d done.
Predicting (correctly) that students would complain, Horwitz wrote to school officials that such complaints were “your problem now,” as Inside Higher Ed reported.
According to local NBC affiliate KPRC, Horwitz’s department head will take over the class for the remainder of the semester. And although the university is investigating the allegations of cheating and other misbehavior in Horwitz’s e-mail, they won’t be upholding his decision to grant an F to the entire class of roughly 30 students.
“None of them have failed until the end of the class, meaning the only reason a student would fail is because he or she has not performed the expectations for that particular class,” Vice President for Academic Affairs Patrick Louchouarn told KPRC.
Texas A&M spokesman Shane Hinckley told the Houston Chronicle that no action had been taken regarding Horwitz’s employment.
Horwitz, who has taught management for two decades at six universities, according to his faculty bio, said that this class was his worst in all his years of teaching.
“This class is unique. I have never failed a class. It is very rare that I fail students; sometimes learning incorporates tough love,” he told KPRC.
Speaking with the Houston Chronicle, he added that the university wasn’t responding to his complaints about their behavior, pushing him to take this drastic step.
“The administration is all about passing these kids through and making as much money as possible,” he said.
“I put my neck on the line for what I thought was the right thing to do,” he also told the Chronicle.
At least one of Horwitz’s students, senior John Shaw, disagreed with the professor.
“Just ridiculous. I had never had a problem in the class. I thought I had done pretty well, done pretty well on the first test, and then I get an e-mail saying I am going to get an F in the class. It was overwhelming,” Shaw told KPRC.
When Inside Higher Ed questioned the fairness of failing every student, Horwitz acknowledged that “a few” of the best performers might not deserve an F. But the school wouldn’t let him teach just those students, so he had no choice but to flunk everyone and leave the course, he said.