Every college student had a horrible professor at some point. In my freshman year, I had a political science professor that gave us “everything we needed to know” for the final exam. His prep was in exhausting detail, and we poured over what he swore would be the vast majority of the final.

Nothing from that prep was on the final exam. To this day, I’m still convinced he give us the wrong test by mistake. It was bad - the first time I saw a student cry in class. Even after that, I’d never want the professor fired. But now a New York college professor is out of a job because his students said the class was too difficult.

What Sparked These Headlines?

An ArsTechnica headline reading "•Did an NYU professor get fired because students hate organic chem?"
A New York Magazine headline reading "•The Whiny Grad-Grubbing NYU Students Have a Point"
New York Magazine
A Chemical and Engineering News headline reading "•Chemistry professions decry firing of colleague at NYU"
Chemical and Engineering News
An NY Post headline reading "NYU's firing of Professor Maitland Jones Jr. should frighten every American"
NY Post

84-year-old Maitland Jones Jr. is one of the most respected names in organic chemistry. He wrote one of the field’s most respected books and was tenured at Princeton until his retirement in 2007. New York University brought him back to academia on a year’s contract to teach a class for them.

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82 of Jones’s 350 students signed a petition to the university saying the class was too hard and the grades that Jones gave their projects were “not an accurate reflection of the time and effort” put in. Jones also had the lowest course evaluations scores in all of NYU’s undergraduate science courses.

Jonesing For A New Prof

The university decided they would let students retroactively withdraw from the class and expunge the grade from their transcripts. They also fired Jones, cutting his contract before the fall semester. Since the New York Times first reported the story, there has been widespread public outrage on both sides.

Some students have since vocalized that they never intended to get Jones sacked. That wasn’t part of their petition. They so still stand by their position that the professor was unfair and didn’t appropriately convey the class’s subject matter. NYU put out a statement on the firing saying that Jones, “was hired to teach and wasn’t successful.”

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