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‘Australia ... is not a country,’ a professor told this student. She fought back.

Ashley Arnold wrote that her professor failed her on an assignment because “Australia is a continent; it is not a country.”
Ashley Arnold wrote that her professor failed her on an assignment because “Australia is a continent; it is not a country.” Screenshot from Ashley Arnold’s Facebook

The folks at Southern New Hampshire University want to tell you something.

They know that Australia is a continent.

They also understand that Australia is a country, too.

So they took to Twitter to make that clear.

That tweet is apologizing to Ashley Arnold, a 27-year-old stay-at-home mom from Idaho, who is pursuing an online sociology degree at SNHU. She spoke to Buzzfeed about her professor who reportedly failed her on an assignment where she had to compare a “norm” in two countries.

She told Buzzfeed she failed because she compared social media use in the U.S. and Australia — but her professor argued that Australia isn’t a country, but rather a continent, according to Buzzfeed.

The sociology major argued that Australia is indeed a country, and shared her instructor’s response on Facebook.

“Australia is a continent; it is not a country,” her professor’s email read in part. “That error made it nearly impossible for you to accurately complete your week 2 research outline correctly.”

Arnold then wrote that she sent her professor a link to Australia.gov.au, the website for the very real country of Australia. She shared her teacher’s next response: “Thank you for this web-address. After I do some independent research on the continent/country issue I will review your paper.”

Finally, there was good news: Arnold wrote that she got an email on Thursday from her professor, who apologized and gave her a B+.

After the story went viral from the Buzzfeed report, officials from the college sent a statement to local TV station WMUR, saying they “replaced the instructor” and “apologized to the student.”

The seemingly absurd conflict has proven to be an important lesson for Arnold.

“Here is the lesson I learned: as a student going back to school in my late twenties I have sometimes felt inadequate,” she wrote on Facebook. “I have felt ashamed and embarrassed that I’m still in school and do not have a ‘real’ career yet.

“However, this class made me realize that I am equal and I can do hard things. I learned I can advocate for myself successfully even in the face of opposition brought on by a stubborn professor with a Ph.D.,” she continued. “I hope this experience will give me courage to continue to advocate for myself and others.”

According to its website, SNHU has 3,000 on-campus students and 80,000 online students. It was founded in 1932.

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