A University of Cincinnati professor has defended failing a student on an assignment for referring to “biological women.”
Melanie Rose Nipper, adjunct professor in the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies department at the Ohio university, revealed her identity as the professor who gave student Olivia Krolczyk a “0” on an assignment for using the term “biological women,” in an interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer.
The student’s project argued males identifying as transgender women were taking opportunities away from biological women in sports.
Krolczyk, who kept Nipper’s identity private, shared her grade in a TikTok video that subsequently went viral.
The adjunct professor said it was “a lot to handle” after Krolczyk’s video was picked up by outlets.
Nipper, who has taught at the university since 2021, confirmed her student’s video detailing the incident though countered, “every final project proposal has to be approved by the instructor.”
The professor asked Krolczyk to center her assignment on a different topic and offered to extend the deadline, according to the outlet.
I didn’t know it was possible make yourself look EVEN worse….u do u https://t.co/JszDe9qo0q
— oliviakrolczyk (@oliveourviews) June 10, 2023
The office’s vice president Bleuzette Marshall responded for comment by the outlet: “We don’t comment on active investigations.”
Nipper agreed classrooms should allow debate, though rebutted Krolczyk’s assignment by saying discussion ends when “you are, intentionally or unintentionally, participating in a systemic harm of some kind.”
The adjunct professor said she feels it is necessary to correct students using “outdated terminology,” noting students are not given a failing grade for the course but rather the assignment in question.
“This is unacceptable based on the community, the marginalized individuals that are at stake, and also the foundations of the course,” Nipper says of students violating her standards.
In Krolczyk’s viral video, she informed viewers of her grade on the assignment by providing a picture of her professor’s feedback, which noted her work was a “solid proposal.”
“However, the terms ‘biological woman’ are exclusionary and not allowed in this course as they further reinforce heteronormativity,” the professor’s comment continued.
never thought this would actually happen #biologicalwoman
Krolczyk previously said Nipper’s assignment was “broad” as students were allowed freedom to choose a topic relating to feminism using at least three sources from class to support their work.
The directions for her project specifically noted the assignment was “developmental,” and “thoughtful proposals submitted on time will receive full credit,” according to Krolczyk.
“I turned in my assignment on time and I can guarantee 100 percent that my proposal was extremely thoughtful,” Krolczyk said, adding she chose to write her project on changes throughout history regarding the rights and opportunities afforded to women in athletics.
“I intended to share the first women that competed in the Olympics, the movement fighting for Title IX, multiple female athletes that are well known today such as Riley Gaines, and then end the project by sharing how these rights and opportunities are being taken away by allowing men to compete in women’s sports,” she said.
The student released a follow-up video addressing the original viral video that provided additional communication between herself and the professor.
“You are correct in some of your reasoning,” reads a longer response from her professor.
“However, sex as a binary category is also socially and culturally created and the binary reasoning that you use does contribute to heteronormativity and transphobia,” the professor continued. “Not to mention the erasure of the intersex community.”
Nipper concluded her email by offering to provide resources for Olivia to research on the topic.
“It is not transphobic to recognize someone’s biological and genetic makeup of the body,” Krolczyk responded to Nipper’s rebuttal.
“It is constructed by Western understandings of science that posit a ‘female’ has XX chromosomes and a ‘male’ has XY,” the professor continued in a follow up email. “However, this is scientifically untrue as evinced by the intersex community and by other scientific models and lived human experiences in the world.”
Krolczyk concluded the video: “Apparently science is fake. That is new to me. I did not know that.”
She concluded: “Our universities really do have some high quality educators today.”