Monday, July 22, 2013

To Outraged Oscar - YOU SUCK!

I cannot help but write a note here to Outraged Oscar, a note which I cannot actually send:

Oscar,  you were outraged at the unfairness of receiving a C+ in my summer online class.

You are not a C+ kind of guy.  This was unfair, biased, a "sucker punch," humiliating, subjective, and unprofessional on my part.  You know it was biased and subjective and unfair, because you have been a student for a very long time (decades, as your e-mail to my Dean and to the President proclaimed), and also because your wife is a college graduate, and she thinks so too.  She has a bachelor's degree from Coastal College of Georgia. 

In the course of your many e-mails, none to me (but I do, actually, appreciate that you copied me on them), you were very insulting in your descriptions of me.  You detailed your opinion of my teaching ability, my credentials, my performance.  You proclaimed that you WOULD NOT SPEAK OR COMMUNICATE with me at all about your grade, even though this is college policy in a grade dispute, as I was such an extreme incompetent.  Instead, you wrote to the Dean and the President.  I answered your e-mails nonetheless.  I had written very brief comments on all your work---that is true.  You never asked me, not once, for any additional feedback, during the course of the class.  That is also true. 



After I sent you more detailed feedback, examples of correct responses (ooooo----and those were made available to the entire class after each assignment) and offers to rewrite some crucial assignments (sorry to the purists out there----with SUCH a squeaky wheel, experience tells me that some accommodations are going to be required to be made) you at first told me I was an idiot.  An incompetent. But, even though my Dean is inclined to ignore such instances of disrespect, I have to give him props----he decided you DID have to redo said assignments.

And so you sent me a very bland e-mail with your redos.  With not a hint of apology.

Fuck you.  That's what I wanted to tell you.  Yes, I'll grade your work.  Yes, you will get the half letter grade higher that you wanted, on the basis of these redos. 

But FUCK YOU.

26 comments:

  1. Oh, and also. ..... I love my new deck. I just love it.

    I sit out there every night. It is great.

    I think it was worth it.

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  2. Your new deck gives this story a happy ending. Though it hurts to put up with the immature and insulting comments, I think the best thing to do is let it pass. For one, he won't listen to you explain how to be polite and he won't apologize. Don't worry about what you can't control. Second, the best way to get revenge is to let him continue to act this way until he encounters a boss or another authority figure who can punish him. Let him act this way in front of a cop and see what happens.

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    1. You are absolutely right, Ben. I cannot make any difference in terms of changing this man.

      And yes, the deck gives this story a happy ending. As my hubby has pointed out, we all have to do some shit work now and then to get what we want.

      But I really do appreciate being able to vent amongst people who understand. Thank God for CM!!

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    2. YELLING FEELINGS INTO THE WEB OF NOTHING THAT IS THE INTERNET


      Ah. Love it.

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    3. I was thinking the same thing, Ben. Even better, let him act that way in front of the judge who hears the case of his run-in with the cop.

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    4. @Monkey: that's what this site is for, after all. Beats howling in the halls, and being taken away by the men in white coats (or taken out by the campus SWAT team).

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  3. Where's Strelnikov (and his AK-47) when you need him?

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  4. This will come back to haunt you both. Outraged Oscar will tell his classmates that engaging in this behavior is the way to get higher grades.

    Nothing worse than a spineless dean.

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    1. I apologize. Nuclear holocaust is worse than a spineless dean.

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  5. I love your posts, Bella, and I know you mean well.

    But when someone like Oscar wins a battle like this, I think our whole profession gets diluted.

    Every situation is different, and if you had no other choice but reward him for how he treated you, please forgive me.

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    1. He began by demanding he not have to do anything to get his grade changed. So he ended up having to do two rewrites. And under the circumstances, I did not have a choice, as he complained within a window our college deems "acceptable" for negotiating grades.

      Where I think I got treated unfairly is that he was not compelled to follow procedure and meet with me----instead he got to go through the Dean. I hate this and fought it but in the end caved.

      Thanks for your kind words about my posts, which I know are too whiny overall.

      There is nothing at all to forgive. Maybe I should have fought harder. But I got double Deaned, and under the current circumstances, I had no Department Chair to back me up.

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    2. Considering how powerless we are now, I do not blame you in the slightest for taking the path of least resistance. The time to fight and argue about our position as faculty was 20 years ago. That generation failed us. And we live with our babysitting consequences.

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    3. I'm with Monkey. You did what you could, and actually got some additional work out of him, which sounds something like a victory (for your own integrity, and the integrity of his education) to me. I'm not too worried that he will spread the word to other students, since he doesn't sound like the sort of student who necessarily notices that there are other students around (though I suppose he might brag if it provided him with an audience). It's too bad that the Deans didn't insist on proper procedure, but that's on the Deans, not you.

      Enjoy your deck!

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  6. This spring I had a student like this. It was absolutely horrible, and I was not supported by the administration. Every time the student went over my head, she was listened to until she cried 'wolf' too many times. I feel your pain!

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  7. I read this page oftentimes and almost can't believe the conditions contingent faculty teach under. This story is almost too much to bear. I believe Bella's plight, and I only know about it because of the scores of others who post similar things.

    This fucking business has gone through a rabbit hole and it's disgusting.

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    1. You know shit is bad when Wicked Walter finds your story shocking. He's already been through the ringer.

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    2. It's not just contingent faculty. As a full prof I've had similar events, and the Dean went with the student's side without ever asking for mine. Fuck 'em.

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  8. What concerns me more than raising Oscar's grade, is the disrespect he showed you.

    I would, at the very least, send an email to Oscar explaining that this behavior is unacceptable (surely it violates "civil behavior" as described in the student handbook?). In other words - document everything. Secondly, file a complaint with your judicial affairs department or whatever department processes complaints. Even if nothing comes of it.

    The problem with this blatant disrespect is that the student tends to claim bragging rights and often "recruits" others to his/her fold.

    I can only hope that what goes around comes around, and Oscar will experience pay back of some sort at some point in the future. You have all my sympathy.

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    1. Yes, there are real problems here, and there are probably available grievance procedures. But is Oscar worth any more of Bella's time (especially time she could otherwise spend on the deck with an adult beverage)? And will complaining do any good for her career? I think the answer to both is "no."

      Oscar sounds like someone who wants to be the center of everyone else's universe. Ignoring him and moving on may well be the best (or at least sufficient) revenge.

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  9. I hear you. And I am glad that at least you got a deck out of it.

    I had something akin to this during the spring, but didn't get a deck. Would like to have decked said student, but remained polite and professional, up to and including reading the comments he left for next semester's students about how biased and unfair I am--comments I read before I calculated final grades but did not allow to change my mind. He's not really enjoying his earned "D" and sent an email requesting that I regrade his essay on the basis of my bias (he didn't follow the directions, and wrote on a topic--topics--not allowed by the assignment parameters), and also that I should accept and grade an assignment he'd had done but didn't turn in. I drafted a nice, professional reply again outlining the reasons for his grade, cc'd my chair, and washed my hands of it. I went out on my deck with a glass of wine and enjoyed the sunshine. His 30 days are up tomorrow, and I haven't heard another word.

    Raise your glass as you enjoy the fruits of your labor, and don't let this person take up any more of your precious free brainspace.

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  10. Ten years ago, while I was on sabbatical, I was contacted by the interim head: a student had gone straight to the dean demanding a grade change (F to W), on grounds of "inadequate instruction". I checked my records, saw the student had skipped the second half of the course (lectures, homework) and gotten a well-deserved F on the final, and refused to make the change.

    The interim head did the following: under pressure from the dean changed all my Fs to Ws for that course (even for students who hadn't asked) and put me under "performance review" when I returned from my leave. And for the remaining two years we fought a little war, which resulted in my being assigned only "service courses" to teach.

    Partly as a result of that, I haven't been promoted (in spite of regular publication in good journals), have been skipped for all "merit raises" since then and am currently under a procedure instigated by the that same dean, who now sits in the provost's office. So there's a long-term price to pay (no deck for me).

    Still, if this came up again, I would do exactly the same. I see it as part of my role as an educator to let the flakiest of students know that no, as a matter of fact you can't get away with it, at least not if it depends on me.
    Of course, the problem is that increasingly adminiflakes tend to side with studentflakes in cases like this, the record and the rules be damned.

    What @Monkey said--that tenured faculty gave up ground to adminiflakes without a fight, starting 20 years ago: I agree. Part of "giving ground" is accepting nonsense (and insults) from students. Resisting this is part of what tenure is supposed to make possible. Also, people's tolerance for pressure varies, but I love a fight.

    So in this case I would have started by writing to the dean (without copy to the student) that as long as the student did not follow procedure I would be powerless to do anything about the grade, and furthermore that the student should be informed of appropriate standards of discourse in an academic setting. Let the dean deal with it, under his own name.

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    1. Holy shit, Peter. I raise a glass to you for standing your ground and for surviving years of humiliating "performance review." Been there, and thought it was the worst academic story I'd heard of, but you've topped me.

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  11. Hi everyone who commented! First- I just want to make clear that I did not earn enough from this class to pay for my entire deck! Just enough to put us over the edge and be able to go through with the project.

    @Peter K: Yes, not everyone would have allowed the rewrites. I knew that this person would get one of two outcomes: either I did not cooperate with him a little and he would get his grade changed without any comment from me, or I offer some way to earn his way to a higher grade, even though the class was over. He wanted the former----expected the former. Was very mad he had to do something to earn a higher grade. I felt like this was the better outcome for my own sense of professional integrity, even though I can see why some people here feel that playing a part in this bending of rules showed a lack of integrity. I am not contingent. I am full time----I have tenure. I even have a union. I did not have to play along. I just wanted this little bugger to not get such an easy way out as to just be able to scream and insult his way to a higher grade (or have that be the only thing he had to do....as his doing those things so loudly and for so long definitely helped his case with the admins).

    Peter, I see why you did things they way you did. And the thing that makes me most angry and upset about this situation is the disrespect. Little bugger was SOOO disrespectful, and the Deans (two of them) just listened and listened and gave him an audience and support.

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    1. Bella, what you did was perfectly reasonable given the circumstances. In both our stories the real problem is lack of institutional support, regardless of how much evidence we have to justify our decisions.

      What bothers me most is that deans and department heads can get these problems "solved" without taking direct responsibility, without making their policies explicit. Maybe if most faculty declined to cooperate this wouldn't be possible. Earlier somebody said picking a fight is "not worth the brainpower or time"; I disagree. I'm sure adminiflakes count on faculty members remaining uninvolved when not personally affected.

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  12. Bella, I'm late to the party but wanted to add my voice to the FUCK YOU to Oscar. And I agree with Peter.

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