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CINCINNATI, Ohio () — A University of Cincinnati student claims she received a zero grade on an assignment for using the term “biological women” in a paper about transgender athletes competing in women’s sports — even after her professor said it was a “solid proposal.”
Olivia Krolczyk, 20, went viral on social media after posting a video about her failing grade, claiming that her Women’s Gender Studies in Pop Culture professor said using the term “biological women” was “exclusionary.”
“Olivia, this is a solid proposal. However, the terms ‘biological women’ are exclusionary and are not allowed in this course as they further reinforce heteronormativity. Please reassess your topic and edit it to focus on women’s rights (not just ‘females’) and I’ll regrade,” the professor said in response to her paper.
After receiving the failing grade, Krolczyk said she checked the syllabus and all of the rubrics to find that there was nothing written about what terms she could or could not use in the class.
Krolczyk said she reported it to the school, but it took over two weeks for the school to set up a time for someone to meet with her about the issue.
“I don’t know if the school is actually going to end up doing anything about it,” she said. “It took them two weeks to even get someone to have a meeting with me. So obviously, it’s not a very important issue for them.”
The school released a statement on the issue, saying: “This matter is continuing to be reviewed by the university through our established policies and processes.”
The university’s Gender Equality Office agreed to have a different professor regrade her assignment. However, Krolczyk said she has created a file to send to the dean with all her complaints and information to keep on record.
Krolczyk said she posted to social media out of fear that the university wouldn’t take the issue seriously. She has no idea that her post would garner such a large response.
“I was very shocked when I saw there were like thousands upon thousands of views,” she said.
Krolczyk explained that the assignment was to write a thoughtful proposal on a topic related to feminism. She said she chose to focus her project on the history of the rights and opportunities that women have had throughout time in athletics specifically.
“A small portion of my project touched on the fact that these rights are being affected by allowing transgender athletes to compete in biological women’s sports,” she said. “And I definitely think that if I were pro-transgenders in women’s sports, then there would not have been an issue.”
Krolczyk said the topic of transgender athletes in women’s sports never came up in class discussions, but since the project was about feminism and gave the student freedom to choose what they wanted to write about, she thought it lined up well.
Krolczyk has refused to name the professor out of fear that they would receive backlash and hate online.