Student in Myanmar asks professor in Canada for test deferral due to Internet blackout, he says no

And you thought your teacher was unsympathetic.

Sulaiman Daud | March 19, 2021, 01:02 PM

You might expect your university professor to have a little sympathy if there are circumstances beyond your control disrupting your work.

For example, a family emergency, or maybe a trip to the doctor. Or even the small matter of a nationwide Internet blackout in the wake of a military coup that ousted a democratically-elected government.

Reddit user Emiirin posted a few screenshots of an email exchange in the York University subreddit on Mar. 18. York is a public university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Asked for deferral due to Internet blackout

The thread titled "Emanoil Theodorescu, please have some common decency" started with an anonymous student asking their professor for a deferral on the midterm, as he'd learned that all cellular data, WiFi and Internet services would be cut off indefinitely.

The professor, apparently named Emanoil Theodorescu, bluntly stated there is no deferral, and sarcastically asked if the Internet has "come down with Covid-19".

Pic from Reddit.

The student explained that he is living in a country where a military coup took place, and protesters have been shot. He asked if this meant that his final grade would be affected, as he couldn't get a deferral.

The professor curtly answered, "Something like that."

Pic from Reddit.

A portion of the conversation might have been missing, because the last screenshot shows the student thanking the professor, and confirming with him again that there is no need to worry about missing the test.

But Theodorescu couldn't let it end there, and finished with a puzzling statement about how people "don't get shot for just protesting", but for "a lot deeper reasons."

He did not elaborate what these "deeper reasons" are that would cause someone to get shot.

He also expressed doubt about the student being able to pass the course.

Pic from Reddit.

The thread starter clarified that she wasn't the student in the email exchange, and that it was her friend currently residing in Myanmar.

AFP reported on Feb. 15 that the country experienced a "near-total Internet shutdown."

The country is undergoing unrest after the military toppled the civilian government and placed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi under arrest, among others.

Countries around the world, including Singapore, have condemned the violence and called for Aung San Suu Kyi to be released.

A Twitter thread went viral, garnering over 15,000 likes and 5,500 retweets.

York University response

York University has put out a media response to the incident.

While not naming the student or the professor in question, it does mention the same Department, Mathematics and Statistics. It said:

"York University is committed to upholding and promoting the values of respect, equity, diversity, and inclusion across our campuses and in our communication. There was a recent communication between a Department of Mathematics & Statistics instructor and a student that does not reflect those values. While employment matters are confidential, we can confirm that appropriate actions were immediately initiated upon learning of the exchange.

We would like to assure all concerned that senior staff from the Faculty were able to directly make contact with the student last night, and clearly expressed support for their difficult circumstance and well-being, and further, assured them that necessary accommodations would be granted."

However, the Reddit user updated that the student did not receive an apology from the professor.

Top image from Reddit and York University's Facebook page.