The spring semester has about a month left in it, which means that some students are suddenly discovering that their grades are not what they had hoped. During this time I am exposed to a variety of excuses and pleas.
A recent one, which I have heard often in the past, is when a student points out that s/he is not a philosophy major while asking for a better grade or some sort of special treatment. Presumably the idea is that if a student is not majoring in the course subject, this entails that s/he is owed some sort of special treatment.
Since I teach classes that take care of humanities requirements and are often required by other majors, most of my students are not philosophy majors. Interestingly, most of them seem to have no problem with the courses. Also, I design the classes with this fact in mind, so this result is hardly surprising. As I tell my students in my upper level classes, I assume that most students are not majors, have no idea how to write philosophy papers, and have special interest in the subject. I go on to assure them that I will teach them all they will need to succeed in the class.
Obviously, being a major in a subject might give a student an advantage. However, this hardly seems to be an unfair advantage. After all, people who are taking a Spanish class should not expect a grade boost just because a native Spanish speaker would have things easier in such a class. Naturally, to grade the class relative to the Spanish speaker would be unfair. Likewise, a student who has taken philosophy classes will have an edge, but this is not unfair (unless the other students are graded relative to this student).
I would, of course, be concerned if non-majors consistently did badly in my classes. However, I always get the right sort of grade distribution even when not a single major is in the class. As such, this excuse really has no merit in my classes. That said, professors who have classes that are required or frequented by non-majors (classes that are needed for general education requirement, for example) should take this fact into account when setting requirements and expectations.