A professor who recently failed a student for using the term “biological woman” in an assignment was reprimanded and ordered to complete a course on free speech.
Adjunct instructor Melanie Nipper, 29, was officially reprimanded by the University of Cincinnati weeks after she gave her student, Olivia Krolczyk, a “zero” on her final project proposal for using the term “biological woman.”
“…she failed a student for referring to non-trans female athletes as biological women.”
If this professor represents “academic expertise” I think it’s time to just end college.
— Jennifer Sey (@JenniferSey) July 1, 2023
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the June 2020 reprimand states, “To prevent any further violation of [the free speech] policy, you must complete training on the requirements of the Campus Free Speech Policy. Through the end of Academic Year 2024/2025, you must submit all syllabi to … me at least two weeks prior to the beginning of classes for review and approval.”
The reprimand continues by threatening Nipper with termination. “Any other violations of UC policy may be subject to … termination. You are reminded that … your employment may be terminated with or without cause.”
Ashley Currier, the head of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Cincinnati, issued the reprimand against Nipper.
Nipper appealed Currier’s decision five days later, arguing that her “restriction on harmful speech” was “necessary to ensure a safe learning environment” and that “the topic itself was inappropriate as it targeted trans women as a source of oppression for cis women and sports.”
“Additionally, as the class has students that identify as gender non-conforming and/or trans, I felt it was necessary to educate her regarding inclusive language to ensure a safe learning environment for other students,” Nipper continued.
The reprimand came after Krolczyk posted a video on TikTok describing how Nipper gave her a failing grade because the term “biological woman” was, in the professor’s words, “trans-exclusionary.”
Nipper asked her students to choose a research topic on feminism for the final project. Krolczyk proposed studying women’s rights in athletics ranging from securing women’s place in the Olympic Games to “transgender” males competing in women’s sports.
Nipper told Krolczyk, “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.”
Krolczyk reported the incident to the school. The university’s Gender Equality Office agreed to have a different professor grade Krolczyk’s assignment, who eventually finished Nipper’s class with a passing grade.