How a Student's Bad Grade Changed the Constitution
Gregory Watson's C might now become an A+
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2017 6:25 PM CDT
A page from the 27th Amendment.   (Wikimedia)

(Newser) – When Gregory Watson first described his theory on how the 27th Amendment to the US Constitution—proposed in 1789 but still unratified in 1982—might finally be passed in a 1982 course paper, both his teaching assistant and professor at the University of Texas were unimpressed. "I didn't see anything that was particularly outstanding about it," says then-government professor Sharon Waite, who approved the C- grade on the paper, leaving Watson with a C grade in the class, per KUT. But Watson found that the amendment—proposed by James Madison and stating pay raises members of Congress granted themselves could only go into effect after the next election—had been approved by nine states. Believing the necessary 29 more states could be persuaded to approve the amendment, too, Watson vowed to "get that thing ratified."

And he did, in 1992, after sending numerous letters to state lawmakers. However, some of his disappointment over his university grade remained—up until March 4. During what Watson, 54, believed was to be a talk about his role in ratifying the amendment, a UT professor presented him with an envelope containing a request to update his course grade to an A+. It was signed by Waite, who cited Watson's "heroic efforts to prove the professor and TA wrong" as the reason for the change. Waite tells the American-Statesman that she initially thought Watson's C- grade was appropriate because she viewed his theory as far-fetched. Now she enjoys knowing she made a mark on the Constitution simply "by making this fellow a grade he didn't like."

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