Thursday, December 20, 2012

More meanness from Horrible Meanie Prof.

Why, oh why, dear student, did you even bother?

Your mid-term exam grades were closer to your age than to mine; you left a little more than half of your final exam blank; you missed 7 our of 30 required class sessions. You did a bang-up job of copying on your assignments, so much so that on the first one you almost got nailed for plagiarism, though I let all the student see their your plagiarism check scores before submission. Even 100% on the final would have only gotten you a D in the course. Maybe you still retained some glimmer of hope before you remembered that all those absences might have pushed you into a failing grade?

But the medical excuse forms: those were a work of art! Copies of copies of copies with the imperfections in the glass of the copy machine making lovely repeating patterns. It WAS a bit odd that all the forms had the same completion date, and that you turned them in at the final, even the ones from August and September. Too bad that I require them within a week of the absence. And really, REALLY too bad that when I contacted the medical office listed on the excuse form, they had no record of a patient with your name ever visiting them. Did you forget and use your classmate's name? Maybe the classmate who provided you with the medical excuse form that you 'doctored' up so you could use?

Oh well, it sure is unfortunate. And now I have be all mean, and report you to the Dean, and probably, since forgery is not just academic dishonesty, but a crime, get you expelled or something. Four years of Ferret Finance & Fabrication down the tubes. What will mommy and daddy say?


  1. A former colleague of mine once said to me he sometimes had students who tried to excuse their absences by submitting notes from their parents. Those notes were on scraps of looseleaf paper and, remarkably, the handwriting of those parents closely matched those of the students in question.

  2. This is one of the reasons why I don't use presence or absence alone as a component of the course grade (I do count participation, which is extremely hard to accomplish while absent). It helps that my university's rules pretty much require this approach. But I realize there's an argument for the other approach, especially in some sorts of classes (e.g. foreign language). Either way, you have to enforce the rules you have -- and, yes, react appropriately to academic dishonesty, which this is.

  3. Like Cassandra, I tend to focus on participation rather than attendance, but I do generally have a cut-off number of classes that a student can miss, beyond which they cannot pass the course.

    But I did want to comment on one other aspect of your story.

    You "contacted the medical office listed on the excuse form" and they wouldn't confirm that a patient with your student's name ever visited them?

    I would certainly hope not.

    Medical professionals are covered by privacy laws and regulations even stricter than those that apply to academia, and any medical office that would release a patient's name to you would find itself in very big trouble.

    1. What I asked was for the office to confirm that they had, in fact, issued the forms given to me by the student, saying "I certify that John Q. Prevaricator was entitled to miss school on Such-and-Such a date, due to being treated by me" signed by the treating doc. I in no way asked them for private info, just to verify that forms given to me by the student were issued by them. They said they could not verify, as they "no records" of contact with that person. I believe they are ethically allowed to say they have NO records.

  4. Medical professionals are covered by privacy laws and regulations even stricter than those that apply to academia, and any medical office that would release a patient's name to you would find itself in very big trouble.

    I would assume that a medical office of the university that filled out forms to excuse a student from classes at that university would confirm those forms if asked. But those are details that I just assumed from the initial story here. If those assumptions are wrong, then it might indeed be an issue.

    Meanie does strongly imply that they checked their records. They didn't say, "We can't divulge that information." They apparently said, "We have no record."

  5. The student will forge a diploma for mom and dad then lie on his resume. What's the problem?

    1. That's no fiction. It happened at the place where I used to teach.

      A certain department head had resigned under mysterious circumstances. Over the following months, the truth began to surface. It turned out she had fabricated her credentials. She was convicted of fraud and sentenced to a short jail sentence. From what I later heard, she went to university and dropped out but didn't tell the rest of her family, who believed that she actually got her degree.

      What made this incident particularly sordid was that her department's program involved aspects of public safety.