Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Colleague hassles


Sometimes I fail a student who can find an administrator to champion their cause.  The odds of me prevailing in that case are about 1 in 10.  It’s not a pleasant experience but at least the faculty always support me.  Nice but it does no real good.

Today, I’m dealing with a student who cheated on an exam (caught looking at his phone) but he’s getting support from his advisor.  Oh, our poor little scholar is a senior, he’s applying to graduate school, he has never done anything like this before and he was probably just checking the weather.

This is a new level of hassle for me.  I like the advisor.  He’s always seemed reasonable about students but he’s clearly taken a liking to this kid.  I couldn’t give a shit about pissing off administrators (up to a point) but I don’t want to create problems with the people I work with.  Much of what makes work enjoyable is being part of a friendly community.  Besides, I’m vying for a promotion soon. 

Well, my morning email reveals that he is calling a meeting on behalf of his advisee to discuss this with two department heads, a dean of students and, of course, yours truly. 

I am resigned to losing this battle, which means that I do the happy dance if by chance I win.  (Don’t worry, there won’t be any video.)


19 comments:

  1. I feel quite strongly that there should be a video.

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    1. I feel that you are bias against my unique learning style. I am a vicarious kinesthetic learner, so you should re-enact the scene for me.

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    1. I second Ogre Proctor Hep, who has hit the ground running and has an intriguing moniker to boot.

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  3. Ack, this is the kind of behavior that makes me cringe. If this student wasn't one of hir advisees, would the effort be the same on their behalf?

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  4. Is this a research advisor overseeing a senior thesis project or something, or just a regular academic advisor that meets with the student twice a year to approve next semester's course schedule? I can't imagine why the latter would be that invested, but then I never spent more than five minutes talking to my regular academic advisor.

    Oh, and the kid's a senior and he just suddenly forgot that you don't use your phone during an exam? Please.

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    1. My last department head sympathized with any of my students who cheated. Apparently, I made things so tough that they had no other choice but to do so in order to "succeed".

      In fact, after one service course I taught was over, one student even admitted that if she hadn't cheated, she didn't think she could have passed. I'm sure my DH would have backed her in any dispute. Her DH wouldn't have cared as he was close to retirement.

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  6. This is one of the worst parts of the job: when someone who should be a colleague decides to champion a snowflake simply because he or she LIKES the adorable little cherub. Two stories:

    At a grade appeal meeting, I had 2 colleagues champion one total d-bag student simply because he didn't act like a jerk in their courses. His performance in my class was sub-stellar; hell, he was a total intellectual slacker who kept trying to take the easy road AND was caught sleeping in class for days at a stretch. No, no... he was a wonderful student and I just needed to "lighten up."... after all, didn't I ever fall asleep in class when I was in college? After all, they had; ergo, so must every other student! And thast had NOTHING to do with his other marks of performance, right? No, no... all behavior is separate.

    And then there was the woman in an advisor position (nonfaculty) who decided to call me at home EVERY DAY for weeks, at all times (from morning thru suppertime), never leaving a message or identifying herself, just to champion a plagiarist FROM ANOTHER COLLEGE who had lost a grade appeal. Why would she spend so much time on someone who was obviously a cheater, wasn't even a regularly matriculated student, and who had lost her case at the Dean level???

    So disheartening.

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    1. Why is it that when students do things that we are supposed to have done when we were their age, it's always some tomfoolery (such as falling asleep in lectures or skipping out whenever one felt like it) and never keeping one's nose to the grindstone or pulling all-nighters in order to meet a deadline?

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  7. Ugh. Fortunately my new dean is very supportive of faculty so it is possible to fail a student for cheating, plagiarism or not doing all the work. Unfortunately when you do fail them they end up back in your class again for another try at passing.

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  8. That seems like a particularly assholey move on the part of your colleague if he did all that without first talking to you and asking what you would recommend and be willing to negotiate.

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    1. He did contact me first, after the student told him about it. I explained everything, including that I'm treating all students the same. Then he emailed again and I was a bit less collegial explaining it a second time. Now, the meeting.

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    2. Then it's definitely an asshole move. Why is it any of HIS business what your policies are?

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  9. So, as Cynic says, the guy is an asshole. I don't buy the "applying to grad school" BS. Surely if the punishment is applied within the course (say, a zero on the test) and goes no further, it won't even show on the little flake's record (except maybe as a lower final grade than otherwise.) I hope you prevail, but as you say it may not be possible.

    I had my own little brush with strange behavior from a colleague today. One of my grad students was nominated by the department to compete for a U-wide summer research assistantship, and a more senior colleague suggested (without giving a very good reason) the application would have better chances if it went through a junior faculty member, who has had no contact with the student. No thanks, I'll do it myself.

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  10. With this group of undergrads, I can totally see an Overachiever glancing at their phone for completely innocent reasons and being totally floored at this accusation. Not because I am a naif, but because this group of undergrads freaks the frak out if they lose their phones for mere minutes. Sitting through an exam has got to be terrifying for them, and checking the weather or texting of anything not even test related calms then down. Like taking a tiny hit of whatever drug has their addiction senses running.

    That said, I was a straight A student who went to grad school and got my PhD. And I totally cheated, twice, as an undergrad. These things happen.

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  11. Don't go the meeting if Friend-Of-Flakes doesn't have any actual evidence pertinent to guilt/innocence of the student.

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    1. Or if you do go, insist on having such evidence presented.

      (And Ben, it would be nice to have an update after the meeting takes place.)

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    2. If I don't go, nobody will state my case for me. It's best if I go.

      There will be an update.

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