Thursday, April 2, 2015

Excuses, excuses.

Consider these scenarios.

A.  Rewriting a report.
Student 1: Could I rewrite the report which I plagiarized for a new grade?

Me: No.  I will not give you special treatment.  Don’t do it again.

B. Accepting late homework.
Student 2: I forgot the homework's due date.  Can I turn it in late for partial credit?
Me: I understand that this can happen but I can’t treat you any different than other students.

C. Allowing a make-up exam.
Student 3: I missed the exam on Monday because I was on a family vacation.  Can I have a make-up test?
Me: How is your family?  I hope everybody had a relaxing trip.  Tell your dad I said “Hi.”  I’m available any afternoon this week or early next week.  What time would work for you?

D. Excusing an absence due to sickness.
Student 4:  I was throwing up and had diarrhea two days ago and missed lab.  I don't have a doctor's note.  Can I attend another lab session to make up the missed experiment?
Me: That’s too bad.  Without a note, I can’t reschedule your lab time.  Sorry.

Guess which student is my department head’s daughter?

Now, don’t go directing any bad mojo towards her.  She’s actually a courteous and hard-working student but it wouldn’t matter.  Some students are made men.


  1. Still, I would expect a faculty member's child to know better. Depending on the faculty member, I guess.

  2. A colleague of mine had two students in the same class. They were both the children of our mayor. Of a rather large city. Very fortunately, both students had amazing study habits, polite almost overly embarrassed personalities. They were, by his account, a pleasure to teach.

    I think that students of influential people tend to be aware of their situation. Some of them are dicks to use that situation to get ahead, but often times we see those students excel almost in spite of their situation.

    Also though: I'm not as much of a hard ass as you, Ben. I am going to assume that my students like me more. :D

    1. Probably a good assumption.

    2. @AM: Yeah, I had the good fortune to attend an Ivy that had its share of celebrity kids. Without exception the ones I knew seemed to make it a point to be kind, regular people.

      @ Beaker: The faculty member should have known better!

  3. This is why universities should subsidize faculty kids attending *other* schools.

    And yes, after years of listening to her dad complain about student excuses, she should know better (of course, dad should also know better than to take her on vacation during term time).

    1. Maybe she just feels entitled because she feels that she was born into a privileged elite, so becoming a member in her own right is almost a formality, or should be. It's almost unfair to expect such a worthy individual to work hard for a degree when other people are born noble. It would probably be easier to institute some kind of honorary degrees granted at birth or at a certain age to people who "deserve" to "inherit" a certain social standing but cannot or would not earn a similar status on their own.

    2. May I suggest the title/degree of "Snowflake".

  4. I'd be tempted to delay answering the special student's question till I'd asked the department head for his/her opinion on granting make-up tests for unexcused and unexcusable absences, violating terms set forth in the syllabus, giving preferential treatment to certain students, etc.

    Ideally, if the DH wants me to do something special, then the DH should request it, not the DH's offspring.