Friday, February 21, 2014

Students who I earn my sympathy

Confusing, right? 

I have a few students who create problems for themselves not out of laziness or stupidity but due to an overabundance of politeness or a weird sense of dedication to their classes.  In the end, I have to deal with their problems so they are still a pain in the ass.

Quiet Quinton  Office hours are when you stop by my office and I help you.  Don’t sit outside my door because you saw that I was working.  I’m always working.  It’s a big part of having a job.  You are allowed to interrupt.

Under-medicated Mindy  Why are you in lab this week when I already excused you because your medication making you space out?  Ah, you didn’t want to miss any class so you are skipping your meds.  No, sweetheart, that’s not how this works.  Take care of yourself first.

Incarcerated Ivan  Yes, jail time is an excused absence.  Yes, I know it’s not on the list of valid excuses in the syllabus.  It’s rare so I don’t include it.  Do you know what’s even rarer?  A student who reads the syllabus.

Injured Ignatius  Don’t try to take your exam with casts on your two broken wrists.  They provide a total of three fingers on two hands for you hold your pencil.  Look tiger, I get it that you want to tough it out but go to our accommodations office so you can get some help.


  1. Ehrmagerd, nooooo. Jail time is NOT an excused absence. If the student is absent because s/he is a witness, or if the student is on trial and acquitted, then the absence is excused. Jail time is most decidedly UNexcused because the student is absent due to her/his own dumbfuckery.

    1. Incarceration after a guilty verdict or plea with no plans to appeal is one thing, and I think it's pretty clear-cut. But jail time does not always equal evidence of dumbfuckery.

      Let's say a student is jailed during a sweep of protesters and misses your final exam. Will you disallow such a student to take the make-up without guilt having been firmly established, or will you delay a make-up perhaps months till after an acquittal? How about a student who is brought in for WWNFAH, i.e., walking while not from around here?

      I think people have widely varying backgrounds in avoiding trouble not of their own making.

    2. You've got a point there, Ogre, but in my experience, students who've been guests of the county have done so because of doing genuinely stupid shit, e.g., drunk driving, ignoring arrest warrants, and the like. Were I in a locale where street protests about something -- anything -- ever occurred, or if my students weren't mostly apathetic whitebread sorts living in whitebread locales, I'd agree with you more wholeheartedly.

    3. I hear you. My presumption of students' innocence till proven guilty is often shot to heck by their tendency to share too much information. "What were you in for?" "I hit a fire hydrant and blew 0.4 on the breathalyzer," or "me and my buddies wanted to see if we could push over the Iacocca statue, and guess what, we did," etc. But we've also had cases of wrong place, wrong time, for which charges were dropped well after the term was over.

      I don't think it's bad for students to learn that fall-out from bad decisions can spill over into other areas of life, i.e., the jail time and fines etc. are not the only consequences one might suffer. If you miss work while you sleep off a bender courtesy of the taxpayers, you can't expect the boss to pay you anyway and effectively subsidize your misbehavior.