Have You Heard The One About…Demerit Records?

This is a story that was sent to us by a current student. – eds.

A little more that halfway into my sophomore year I went over 75 demerits for the first time in my college career. And in DC, for this “special event” (being campused for the first time), the person (no longer here) who read my offenses to me, showed me where to sign and then asked me, “What’s your major?”

I just stared at him, trying to see what relevance his question had to my being campused.

“I said, what’s your major?”

Still trying to understand, I answered him with a quizzical tone of voice, “Commercial Writing?”

To which he replied, “I wouldn’t hire you.”

I was even more confused.

“Sir?”

“If I were a newspaper editor and you came to me for a job, and I saw how many demerits you had in college, I wouldn’t hire you.”

That hurt.

“I wouldn’t hire someone who got as many demerits as you have right now.”

Then he dismissed me, and for the remainder of my sophomore year, what he said to me that day nearly gave me ulcers. And during the entire time, I never told anyone what he had said to me, and several times I almost decided to drop out of school because of it. The only thing I could think of was, “Why should I even bother going to college when I’ll never be able to get a
job after I graduate because of my demerit record?”

Several months later, during the summer, I set out to find out if there was any truth to what I was told in DC that day.

I was able to speak to 3 people in the publishing industry — one of which was the chief editor of a local newspaper. I asked each of them what they took into consideration when hiring new employees. I learned a great deal as a result of those interviews, but the best response I got from them was when I asked them what they thought about a “demerit record.” All 3 of them laughed out-loud, one nearly spewing his coffee. They said that demerit records, to them, were a “joke” and that it was no business of theirs to probe into a student’s personal life unless it was a
criminal offense (considered so by a court of law) they committed in college. They went on to say that they didn’t think that college institutions had any right to use demerits as a legitimate form of disciplinary action. Suspension or paying a fee, they agreed, was legitimate punishment — if the offense was truly worthy of such action. But they all felt that a demerit system, for college students, was ludicrously unnecessary.

The best response by far was from the newspaper editor who told me that if he saw a lot of demerits on my record, he would take that to mean that I was a “risk-taker,” and in the newspaper business, he said, “risk-takers are the best d**n employees I can ever hope to hire.” So was this particular staff member “just” in placing an entirely unnecessary burden of guilt on my shoulders for me to bear alone for over 6 months? I think not. And it certainly wasn’t something Christ would’ve done either. My grades even suffered drastically as a result. And I neglected to mention that he added “insult to injury” by asking me for my car keys. WHAT RIGHT DID THEY HAVE TO TAKE AWAY THE KEYS TO MY CAR? In most states, even ALCOHOLICS aren’t forced to give up their right to
drive until the 2nd or 3rd offense!

So I called the only TRUE parental authority in my life at that time — my dad — and informed him of the situation. Like most parents, he, of course, became angry because he owned the car and the college had no rights over his private property. So he called the Deans’ Offices to complain, and like most parents, he was put on hold or advised to call back later when the Deans would be “more readily available.” And in the midst of all the hoopla, I guess they forgot to ask me again to turn in my keys, so I carried them ’round with me proudly until the day my
“sentence” had ended.

Still, there are employers I have later come across who do consider your demerit record, even for “piddly things,” to be reason enough not to hire you. But I do agree with your position on the matter — an adult should not have to explain to a prospective employer why they got demerits for wearing “the wrong shoes,” or for the vile offense of leaving a hat hanging on a bedpost, of all things. But I don’t want anyone else to have to go through the personal agony I experienced as a result of how I was belittled in DC that day. Should it happen to you, “shake the dust off your feet” and go on living in the state of Grace. You’re God’s Child, and He won’t allow you to suffer later in life just because you may have had a lot of demerits in college.

“He will not see the righteous suffer, nor His seed begging bread.”

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