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This Student Failed Her Assignment Because Her Professor Said “Australia Isn’t A Country”

Ashley Arnold is a 27-year-old stay-at-home mom from Idaho Falls, Idaho, and she is currently studying sociology online at the Southern New Hampshire University. But she recently received a failing grade after completing an assignment where she stated that Australia was a country.

It was in an assignment for a part of her final class, which she paid nearly one thousand dollars for, where she had to pick one social norm in the United States and compare it with another country.

So Ashley decided to choose the social norm of social media and compare the differences between the social media from down under versus the social media in the US.

But on February 1, 2018, when Ashley got her grade back, she was surprised to see that she had failed her assignment. Her professor said: ‘Australia is a continent, not a country.’


This professor, who remains unnamed, has a Ph.D. in philosophy according to her profile on LinkedIn. This professor gave Ashley zero points in multiple categories since she did not select a ‘country.’ This professor is a contracted employee of the university and is not on the permanent payroll.


During an interview with BuzzFeed News, Ashley said: ‘at first I thought it was a joke; This can’t be real. Then as I continued to read I realized she was for real.’


Ashley continued: ‘with her education levels, her expertise, who wouldn’t know Australia is a country? If she’s hesitating or questioning that, why wouldn’t she just google that herself?’


Despite writing a lengthy email and even providing references for the fact that Australia is indeed a country, her professor was unwilling to relent. In an email, the professor wrote: ‘I will gladly re-examine your week 2 milestone project report. But before I do I want you to understand that any error in a project can invalidate the entire research project. Research is like dominoes, if you accidentally knock over one piece the entire set will also fall. Australia is a continent; it is not a country. That error made it nearly impossible for you to accurately complete your week 2 research outline correctly.’


So once again, Ashley had to double down and provide further links from the Australian government’s website with a direct indication which shows that Australia truly is a country.


After filing a report with the university, the professor gave Ashley a new grade of B+ after finishing her ‘independent review’ on whether or not Australia is a country. (And yes, Australia is the only place on Earth that is both a continent and a country!)


The professor never apologized for committing the error, and according to a spokesperson from the Southern New Hampshire University, the professor has since been replaced and Ashley will also receive a refund for the course.

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