Ashley Arnold, a 27-year-old student working toward an online sociology degree, spoke to Buzzfeed after her professor refused to accept that Australia is a country.
According to Arnold, her assignment was to compare a social norm between the US and another country, and she chose Australia. However, when she received her grade, she was shocked to learn that she had failed the assignment because the professor observed that "Australia is a continent; not a country."
Arnold then emailed her professor, outlining references proving that Australia was both a country and a continent.
— SNHU (@SNHU) February 9, 2018
However, the professor refused to acknowledge the error, replying to Arnold that she would "gladly re-examine" the project, but continuing to stress that Australia is not a country.
In the email, the professor doubled-down by stating: "I want you to understand that any error in a project can invalidate the entire research project. Research is like dominoes, if you accidentally knock over one piece the entire set will also fall."
Arnold sent a follow-up email to her teacher referencing a link from the "about Australia" section on the country's government website.
The professor responded that she would review the assignment after conducting some "independent research."
After this back and forth, Arnold eventually received a paltry B+ on her project. Although the professor never apologized to Arnold, she did admit that she had a "misunderstanding about the difference between Australia as a country and a continent."
However the professor scolded Arnold to "please make sure the facts and the information you provide in your report is about Australia the country and not the Australia the continent."
Arnold subsequently filed a report about the incident with the university's administrative office.
The university publicly apologized in a tweet saying, "We deeply regret the interaction between our professor & our student. We have apologized to Ashley, replaced the instructor, & are reimbursing her tuition for the course. To our friends in Australia, we know that you are a country & a continent, best of luck in the Olympic games!"