Teacher asked to stop policy on bringing snacks to class

Brett Johnson

Sacramento State psychology professor George Parrott was asked by the university’s psychology department to discontinue his long-held policy on students bringing snacks, or facing a teacher-less class.

Parrott has required students to bring snacks into his classroom for nearly 40 years, saying he does so in an effort to encourage students to work together and form connections. The syllabus he passes out on the first day of class makes it clear: not having a snack means no Parrott or teacher’s assistants.

The requirement came under review after media outlets reported on his decision to leave his Foundations of Psychological Research class Nov. 10. On that day, Parrott and his teacher’s assistants left during a midterm review because two students who were to bring in snacks that day were absent.

The psychology department has since determined Parrott leaving class for this reason was unacceptable.

The department appreciates “team cooperation,” but is of the opinion the requirement is not the best way to achieve those goals, according to a statement issued by Marya Endriga, psychology chair. The statement also makes it clear the department does not approve of the departure of instructors as a consequential measure.

The statement, dated Nov. 16, was constructed by faculty members within the department, and was proposed as a motion to be considered as an official response to the situation. The motion was voted on, and carried unanimously.

Parrott has not argued the decision, saying he accepts it and is comfortable with the department’s stance on the issue.

“When it comes down to it, I still personally believe the requirement to bring snacks to class is appropriate,” Parrott said. “However, maybe the consequences should have been different. I should have just cancelled class instead of just walking out; no student gets upset about class being cancelled.”

Parrott said he is open to exploring other options for team-building exercises. He said, however, the suggestions he received via email correspondence with College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies Dean Charles Gossett did not appeal to him.

The email included a link to a website listing icebreaker activities such as a musical chairs game, in which the winner reveals personal information. Another was a Tic-Tac-Toe game having students using personal characteristics in place of “O’s” and “X’s.”

“Some of what was suggested would be way, way more inappropriate than snacks” Parrott said. “Some of the things suggested on that website would just be outright embarrassing, and that’s just not what I want for my students.”

Parrott said he is not worried about whether he will continue requiring students to bring snacks to class in the immediate future, as he will be teaching in Warshaw, Poland, next semester. He said he is being considered for a Fulbright Scholarship, which would allow him to teach there even longer.

“The students there have a curriculum that keeps a group of students together throughout each semester, so having the snack requirement would be inappropriate,” Parrott said. “It’s not like here – where students rarely mingle and need activities that bring them together.”

Brett Johnson can be reached at [email protected]