Monday, February 1, 2016

Am I a bad person for replying like this?

Student: (4 hours before appointment)  Can we please reschedule today's appointment for tomorrow?  I had ordered a hard copy of the book and need to pick it up after work.

Me:  This is not 24 hours notice.  Pick up the book and come to the appointment.


  1. That's not mean at all. What I would have thought about saying would be:

    "Dear Student

    No, "we" "may" not. What on earth is wrong with you? You do not have the book and you have not read the book well in advance of an appointment you have known about for quite some time? I suspect laziness on your part and this excuse is merely an attempt to shirk your responsibilities as a student. My dog could crap out a better excuse and he has been dead for several years now. Employers will not tolerate such behavior and will fire you out of a cannon straight into the unemployment office. Get your act together before it is too late!

    Professor Ripberger"

    In reality, I would have sent a message similar to yours unless I had tenure. Note: I'm not a professor.

  2. The way I say it is more like: "May we do this in a more ORDERLY manner?" I am not at all reticent about letting my displeasure at this childish, disorganized behavior. What if this child pulls this horseshit with a real boss, in the real world?

  3. Is it really better to make the student come without the book (if he really doesn't have time to pick it up and still show up) or to come with a brand new book he has barely seen? Having an extra day would give him a chance to at least have a look at the book. If the meeting is unproductive and/or takes longer because he hasn't had a chance to prepare, is the professor really saving any time?

    1. I won a thousand dollar bet with myself when I saw this post that Monica would respond in exactly this way.

      I wish I were this good with the NFL.

  4. "Is it really better ... is the professor really saving any time?"

    It is better to keep the appointment, even though in this case the professor is not saving time. You have to look at the long game, in which enabling snowflakey behaviour is neither more productive nor time-efficient.

    So the way the OP handled it was perfect. Brevity is the hallmark of authority, and their response has it. Furthermore, low-stakes assignments/assessments are the perfect platform for enforcing the "soft skills" or "unwritten" part of the curriculum, such as deadlines -- the final grade may not be affected much, but the lesson is (often) learned.

    Here are three examples of responses I've recently given:

    "Your explanation amounts to 'I forgot about the quiz,' and predictably, it does not constitute a valid excuse. You may not take the make-up."

    "The instructions plainly state that the quiz was 60 minutes and must be completed in the LMS by 9:00. Your claim that you should have been able to start it at 9:10 and complete it by 10:00 with only a 10-minute penalty is unfounded. You may not take the make-up."

    "Sometimes, it does hurt to ask."

  5. I'm really passionate about this. The actual decision of what to do is up to the professor, obviously. If for whatever reason he physically can't get the book, the OP might decide the meeting is a waste of their time. Up to them entirely.

    But as a student who frequently utilizes meetings with Professors as a way to evaluate my progress and my understanding of certain subjects, it frustrates me when fellow students do not take meetings/office hours with the Professor seriously and result in students who take full advantage of that time having less of it.

    So I suppose I would favor the harshest response available. I showed up (about five minutes early) for an appointment with a Prof once. This man was a saint. As I was entering his office (albeit a minute or two early) the young lady who apparently had an appointment with him last year RAN IN FRONT of me to more or less ask the Prof to give her my scheduled hour.

    He kindly and politely explained that she scheduled a certain time. If it wasn't good for her, he would have been happy to schedule another time. Went on to explain that it wasn't fair to punish me for keeping my commitments.

    She strung of a litany of excuses. At this point I suspect his patience had run thin because he simply responded "That sounds like a personal problem. It's not my problem. And it's CERTAINLY not his problem." *pointing to me*. I just stood there, basking in the justice. And then, and this is by far the best part, he said to her "Please close the door. Thanks."

    I ordered an Edible Arrangements for him at the end of the semester. He earned every chocolate covered piece of fruit.