Saturday, October 18, 2014
Programming Patty Has a Question on Etiquette.
Recently we were combined with another class for a presentation from Counseling Services. Perhaps it was because the presenter was an actual therapist, but she didn’t have a particularly commanding voice nor any sort of authoritative presence (I always start class with a loud declaration that “Class is starting NOW,” and I close the door and make it clear that everyone has to shut up at that point, and I rein them in if they start talking out of turn) My students happen to be well-behaved and mostly decent (not because of me - I just lucked out), so they sat quietly and paid attention to the presentation, but the other professor’s students, with whom we were combined, were somewhat rowdy and not very respectful of the speaker. They settled down once the counselor handed out an extremely long anonymous survey about drug and alcohol usage. But of course, those who finished this survey first started getting all rowdy again, talking with their friends, shouting across the room, laughing and joking loudly. And other students were still filling out the survey so it was clearly disrupting them. Since my students were talking quietly and not disturbing others, I didn’t say anything – it wasn’t my class that was the problem. I kept hoping the other professor would rein in his students, or the counselor herself would keep them in line. But no one said anything. Finally my teaching assistant (an upperclassmen assigned to each “intro to college life” class) told them to pipe down. That didn’t have much effect. Eventually the other professor told them to keep their voices low until the others had finished, and they got a little bit quieter, and then everyone was done with the survey and we continued on with the presentation.
My question is: would it have been appropriate if I had immediately told the other professor’s students to pipe down? Or would the students have thought that, if their professor didn’t say anything, why should they listen to me, a random stranger? Would the other professor (a stranger to me – we just happened to combine our classes for the presentation) have thought I’m out of line in reining in his students? I assumed he had no problem with their rowdiness, otherwise he’d have said something, but he eventually did say something, it just took him a long time to get around to it.
It’s not that the situation is likely to occur again, just curious as to what you veterans would have done (obviously, if my own students disrupting others, I’d have been all over them about it immediately, but mine are surprisingly well-behaved).