I recently received an email from a student who earned a really solid D on an exam. The student was sort of asking if there was anything I could do about this grade. I am accustomed, of course, to receiving requests for special extra-credit assignments and the like. But this one was different. This student just wanted me to change his grade. He seemed to sort of acknowledge that there was nothing in principle wrong with the grade--there was no grading error; no extenuating circumstance. He just wanted me to give him a better one. Then he says, "im just asking you to be fair and just."
Again, I get this kind of request a lot--though usually the student wants me to let him do a special extra-credit assignment. A lot of times they will preface the request by saying that they don't want to be unfair to their classmates, which I take to be an implicit or backhanded acknowledgement that granting the request would indeed be unfair to their classmates. A lot of times they don't say anything about fairness--the question of fairness either doesn't occur to them, or else it doesn't interest them, or else they realize that it's not to their advantage to bring it up. A lot of times they stress their willingness to do extra work: "I'll do whatever it takes," they say. "I'll work really hard the rest of the term," they say. I have a standard reply that I send to all such requests, which stresses the degree to which they and their classmates have a right to expect that the policies of they syllabus will be honored blah blah blah.
But I have never, ever had a student ask me to just scratch out the 65 at the top of the exam and write in an 87 instead, for nothing, no extra work, and no legitimate reason. And I have never, ever, ever had a student tell me that I should do this because of justice; because it would be the fair thing to do. My head is spinning.