Wednesday, April 16, 2014

You all are wonderful. It doesn't matter what the question is.

Contingent Cassandra sent me a short question several weeks ago, when parts of the US had yet to thaw.  I never found a good time to post it.  Then Bella Dr. Amelia sent in the post that began, "Does it make me a bad person if..." and it clicked for me.  We all have these thoughts about people we encounter at our jobs.  We need to share them.  Here's the first entry by Contingent Cassandra.
Am I terrible person if I am secretly a bit pleased by the fact that the Greek letter societies' annual spring homelessness-awareness campout-on-the-college-green is taking place this year in actual hypothermia weather? 
How do you finish the statement, "Am I a bad person if..."?  Of course, the answer to the question is a resounding "NO!" 

Share how awful you are in the comments.

-- Ben


  1. Our Student Retention Office (whose constituent Student Enablers, Assistant Nosewipers, and Grade-Inflation Advocates are openly hostile toward education and knowledge, probably because they were never very good at those things themselves) has finally begun to collapse under its own weight. Maybe someone started wondering why we're paying people to tell students that they are entitled to get credit for making Popsicle-stick dioramas instead of a writing research papers.

    I wouldn't go so far as to perform a victory dance on the smoking ruins of the Student Retention Office. But I might just break out the good bourbon.

  2. That was Amelia! But I'm always happy to be associated with a good idea!

  3. This kid was doing well at the start of the semester, and assumed, on his own, the role of my TA. I once overheard him saying to a classmate, quietly, but not quietly enough "I mean I don't want to bust on her, but she's wrong. But I kind of owe it to the other guys, right? She's just going to confuse them if I don't point it out.", and then never pointed "it" out anyway, whatever it was. He asks me about significant figures, as a knee-jerk response, while I'm still putting the hypotheticals on the board, for EVERY SINGLE QUESTION! It's so bad, I did something almost shameful (Ben, this is non-majors, so please don't hate me for this), I made a formal announcement, and followed it up with a handout AND an "announcement" on BlackBoard, that significant figures don't matter for the rest of the semester. He still asks. He's ruining the whole class because we can't talk about a god damned concept for 2 whole minutes before he asks a mother fucking question about fucking significant figures.

    Does it make me a bad person if he was at the board last night fucking up an atomic structure question and the class village idiot shouted out "Whoa, dude, what happened to you? You're like the '06 Mets in here and this chapter is the St. Louis Cardinals. It's just counting. It's not rocket science." and it was my favorite minute of the semester?

  4. I asked the student who was sniffling through the first 20-minutes of a two-hour class to please go and get a tissue to blow his nose because then sniffling snort was like a level of hell I just didn't think any of us deserved?

  5. I had one show up to office hours and say "I can't stay, I forgot I had something else to do. Did you come in today just for this meeting?" And I said, "Yes, I did," just to make him feel bad, even though I would never come in on an off-day to an appointment I know the student has only 50/50 odds of showing up for.

    1. No, you're not a bad person for saying you came in just for that meeting, even though the idea seemed to have occurred to the student and he was sorry for it. You were helping to instill the competencies of good time management and consideration for others, both of which are important for an effective society.

  6. At the end of last semester, a student contested a barely passing grade. Under the circumstances, it was generous. He insisted he did everything I asked and deserved a better grade. I was ready… and sent him a long list of everything he, in fact, didn't do (and hadn't done all semester long, despite reminders that accompanied every project. I don't wish any student ill, but I took some pleasure in this. His response… crickets.

  7. Am I a bad person if:

    Our office hall smells like cigarette smoke, so I go out to the stairwell and remind a student he's a block away from the campus Designated Smoking Zone and ask him to put out his cigarette, and he doesn't, and he glares at me and walks away, and I follow him and ask for his name and take his photo?

    I remind two students smoking next to a major sidewalk to move 30 yards over to the Zone, and then I walk a few yards, turn around, and wait until they move? And then I walk farther, turn around, and watch as they start heading back to where they were, see me, and head back to the Zone? And then I walk farther, turn around and return their friendly wave?

    I remind a student that there's no smoking in the stairwell, and when she says she wasn't smoking, I point out the burn mark on the wall where I just saw her stub out a butt?

    I inhale some gaseous substance and find out I just got some second-hand e-vapor, and I tell the student that the campus vaping policy is the same as the smoking policy, so he needs to head to the Zone, even though the campus has no vaping policy yet?

    My next-door neighbor at home hires a landscape architect to redo her back yard, and positions what she calls a "meditation garden" against our shared fence, and practices "meditation" by smoking, and I position my compost pile and Doggie Dooley waste pit right on the other side of the fence?

    1. I am all for this! Re the garden, perhaps you should add a beehive.

    2. And/or a combined wind turbine/exhaust fan (aimed in your neighbor's direction, of course).

  8. I remember a pair of students who disputed my giving them both zero on a drafting assignment. Oh, they completed it, but one didn't just copy the other's work--he traced it.

    The result was a complaint to the department head. He called me into his office to discuss it. Then I showed him the smoking gun evidence. The one who did the tracing didn't erase the *back* of his drawing sheet. One could clearly see faint pencil lines where traces of the lead from the original were picked up and stuck. The department head gulped in embarrassment as he didn't have a reason to skin me and the kid who did the tracing eventually owned up.

    One didn't need to be Lt. Columbo to catch people like that.

  9. Am I a bad person if...

    ...I derive some pleasure in hearing stories from, or about, other faculty regarding their misadventures with a certain silverback [1] who, for a brief time, had made me seriously question my own sanity, my own ability to comprehend others, and just WTF I was doing in this business?

    ...if I derive some pleasure in hearing of the continuing academic misadventures of certain students who are full of both snark and themselves?

    ...I plan a trip but don't inform a certain colleague who notoriously calls on me at the Nth hour to pull his butt out of hot water because he once again did not plan ahead for a certain event, when I know very well that one of said events will occur in my absence?

    Oh, I am terrible. Very, very naughty. I should be punished.

    [1] For the unitiated, "silverback" is about attitude more than physical apearance; please see the College Misery glossary. Though the silverback may talk much, he (often but not exclusively "he") says little. Though he may insinuate himself into the action much, he accomplishes little. He's not entirely without worth, for like a stopped clock, he is occasionally correct.

  10. @Ben: thanks for transforming this into a viable and entertaining quasi-thirsty (ooh, I can feel Cal breathing down my neck as I write that). But you didn't necessarily have to explain the time lag; significant parts of the U.S. that are usually warm by now (including my own) *still* haven't thawed.