Today I wrote the midterm for my final history course of my degree. It’s actually going to count as an elective, because I have taken too many history classes already, but I don’t like trying new things. My family can confirm this-don’t make me cross-country ski! Sure, most electives sound fun but then before you know it you’re being forced to give an “art” show of your sub-par cracked pottery that you never actually wanted to make in the first place, you just wanted an easy A but now you’re getting a C, and hopefully your mom wants your pottery rejects for her birthday present .
Anyway, the exam was pretty standard. It consisted of one essay question- “Explain the events that led to increased racial equality in the U.S. between the years 1950 and 1965.” I had 50 minutes to answer and I was sitting in a room by myself, with a large wall-mount clock for some reason sitting on the table, ticking loudly. It was in the THUGS room (The History UnderGrad Society. Yeah, us nerds worked hard for that acronym.) and had one wall made of windows, so that I was in a fish-tank scenario for the rest of the lounging THUGS to see.This luxurious solo exam space was the result of me missing the original exam (I have only missed one other exam because the bus didn’t come and I was a first year and the thought of paying for a taxi didn’t occur to me. But luckily I stayed in school and now I understand how taxis work.) due to what I thought was a bad hangover but turned out to be food poisoning. My roommate pointed out this may have been because there was an eclipse in Leo that night. That could be. But it could also be because I consumed whiskey and some questionable food roughly 4 hours before the 16 hour chunder fest began.
I answered the exam question with what was probably a solid B answer (my specialty). But at one point I wrote this sentence: “A civil rights victory came in 1951 with the court’s ruling that the decades-old “separate but equal” segregation laws were in fact unequal.” For those of you who aren’t in history, let me tell you, this is not a fact. This is more of an alternative fact. After I wrote it I looked at it and thought “where did that come from? Is that true?” I considered scratching it out, but I honestly couldn’t remember if it was true or not, so I decided to leave it in case it was true. What’s strange about this is that I then went on to write (I know you can’t wait to hear more about what I wrote on my undergrad history exam): “Another, more significant victory came in 1954 with the Brown V. Board ruling which moved to desegregate schools.” This is a fact. And this is when the Supreme Court of the U.S. ruled that the “separate but equal” policy was inherently unequal. So, I knew 1954 was when the courts declared “separate but equal” was unequal, and yet I believed my #AlternativeFact enough to leave it in there, essentially writing two conflicting sentences back to back. To add to my shame, I also misspelled separate like “seperate.” (Horrifying, I know).
After my exam I searched through all my notes and then on google to find anything that confirmed 1951 was the year the Supreme Court ruled segregation unequal, but sadly there was nothing. I have searched google four times today to find any evidence of something official (didn’t even have to be a court ruling, just anything please) being said about “separate but equal” in 1951. I feel like Kellyanne Conway must have felt after her Bowling Green Massacre blunder, except that I didn’t repeat this falsehood multiple times, and I actually thought it happened, and I wasn’t just straight up lying to get support for a garbage fire administration and an islamophobic, inherently discriminatory immigration policy by playing to people’s prejudice fears. But other than that, just like Kellyanne.
I thought seriously about sending my professor a disclaimer. Something like, “Sorry in advance about my exam. I don’t know where I got that date from, please don’t think I’m stupid because I like this class and you’re cool and now you think I’m dumb and that I didn’t study and that I don’t care about the class and I’m sorry but chalk it up to “alternative facts?”” I did not send it. But the reason I didn’t send it wasn’t because I realized I was being ridiculous and this professor wouldn’t actually care about one sentence being wrong after he had already marked 100+ exams. No, no. The reason I didn’t send it was because I thought, “well if everyone sent him a disclaimer then his inbox would be full and that would be such a hassle for him.” Yeah. Because that’s the problem with that email.
In other news today, ISIS is still enslaving and committing genocide against the Yazidis. That, and I wrote the wrong date on an exam. #NowYouKnow
[Update: I got an A on this exam and still tried to bring up the mistake with my professor, who looked at me with exhaustion and said “it’s okay” before moving on to talk to his other 50 students in that class who wanted to discuss their marks.]