Students ditch snack-time, professor leaves classroom

Brett Johnson

Sacramento State Psychology Professor George Parrott promptly left his Foundations of Psychological Research class Thursday morning after discovering that two students tasked with bringing snacks to class were not present.

Parrott has expected students to work together to make or bring snacks for the class for more than 35 years, but after media outlets reported on his decision to walk out of class that day, the requirement has come under question by Sac State’s psychology department.

Students who were present have criticized the move, as the day in which Parrott left class was scheduled to be a review for a midterm.

“Our education isn’t worth food, it’s for us,” Francisco Chavez, a student in the class, told The Sacramento Bee.

The requirement for each student to participate in the act of bringing snacks to class is explicitly stated on the first day of class, Parrott said. While not bringing the snacks does not adversely affect students’ grades, not showing up on one’s specified snack-day means Parrot and his teacher’s assistants may not teach.

“A lot of people were surprised that I expect this sort of student involvement, and also I actually followed through with the consequences,” Parrott said.

The professor said he sees the activity of bringing snacks to class as both emphasizing a relaxed environment and promoting connections to fellow students. He said this is important at a commuter campus, where students tend to keep to themselves.

Parrott listed some of the food brought in by students over the years, which included everything from carrot sticks to fried chicken and pizza, and added he rarely eats the snacks, saying he “could not afford the calories.”

“In the ‘70s I definitely never ate any of the treats they brought in,” Parrott said. “I never trusted there weren’t any drugs in it. We had a really cheerful lab section, and there was always suspicion of why they were having so much fun.”

Parrott said he is among the highest-rated professors in his department, and provided a copy of his student-faculty evaluations for last semester. Of the students who evaluated him, 49.1 percent found his teaching excellent, and only around 10 percent found him fair or poor.

“This is not an issue of whether or not he is a good professor, but whether or not this is an acceptable practice within the curriculum,” said Kim Nava, Sac State spokeswoman. “The psychology department is currently reviewing it in terms of its appropriateness and how well it fits in the course.”

Parrott has not put much thought into discontinuing the requirement, and is not prepared for the department to ask him to take it off the syllabus.

“I honestly do not know what my response would be,” Parrott said. “However, despite some of the incompetence shown by administration, I can’t believe that they wouldn’t find a pedagogical explanation for it.”

Brett Johnson can be reached at [email protected]