Pitt denies claims that students were offered extra credit for protesting Trump

By Elizabeth Lepro

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Pitt came under fire from conservative outlets this week after they accused the administration of offering students in the School of Social Work extra credit for protesting President-Elect Donald Trump.

But  in a statement on Wednesday, the University said the stories were inaccurate and the outlets have since updated their initial reports.

The criticism came after a student in Pitt’s School of Social Work wrote an email asking professors to give students extra credit to attend the March to Take Back our Economy downtown on Nov. 29, according to Pitt spokesperson Susan Rogers. After the email was passed to an administrative assistant, it was forwarded to professors in the school.

The email sent to professors in the School of Social Work.

The email sent to professors in the School of Social Work.


The Pitt Maverick, a right-leaning publication at Pitt, published the email Nov. 17, accusing Pitt of offering students extra credit to protest Trump. Fox and Friends, a morning broadcast on Fox News, then picked up the story with the same accusation.

Although the email mentions the recent election, Rogers said the event was never explicitly anti-Trump, as it has always been billed as a march for the Fight for $15 movement to raise the minimum wage and to address rising educational costs. Neither the event’s signup page nor the corresponding Facebook event mention Trump.

It is not clear whether the event was scheduled before the election, and organizers could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The School of Social Work does help promote causes related to helping impoverished or underprivileged people, but Dean Larry Davis does not encourage that professors offer extra credit for this attendance as it gives an unfair advantage to students who have the resources to attend extracurricular events, Rogers said.

Pitt released a statement on social media Wednesday in response to the Fox and Friends broadcast deeming the story inaccurate.

“In keeping with existing school practice, no extra credit will be given to students who attend this event,” the statement reads. “Such an experience is a typical part of [students’] education about social issues, not an endorsement of any particular ideology.”

Fox and Friends and The Pitt Maverick have since updated their reports.

Rogers said that while Davis does not, in general, encourage professors to offer extra credit for attending rallies or protests, professors are free to include those in their syllabi — as long as there is equal opportunity for everyone in the class to attend an event.

“[Offering extra credit] is not against the University’s code,” Rogers said. “We don’t take partisan positions as an institution…we encourage people to act on their opinions as they see fit.”


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