Sunday, October 23, 2011

Excuses I HAVE to accept.

Now that my diploma mill, I mean university, is so very student friendly and my dean is more concerned with customer service than education here are a list of excuses I had to accept so far this term per marching orders:

1. Their work schedule requires them to drive a lot. Really? They deliver BOXES for a living, they knew this before they enrolled. It never occurred to them that this might intefer with their class schedule?

2. I'm not being sensitive enough and I am coming across as mean. Ok I will give them that, but there is a good reason. I DON'T CARE. You know what I care about? Teaching this class, following university policy (whatever that happens to be this week). Let's be honest Deany Boy, if I came to you with a sob story about my sick hamster and how I couldn't come to class you would toss me out on my tooshie because I'm an adjunct and I'm expendable. Let's teach some real world expectations here. I will give extensions where warrented, and will even bend over and ask for another when they aren't warrented, but you CAN'T make me kiss their arse. Customer service is your thing. Teaching theory in hamster weaving for the masses is mine.

3. They dont understand the material. Of course they don't, they havent shown up to class in 3 weeks how could they. But SURE I will spend my weekend grading their late assignment so you can take their tuition.

Maybe your corner of hell is better than mine, I hope so. What excuses have you had your arm twisted to accept?


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  4. When I arrived at my university, I was told by the Provost that all class rules had to go in the syllabus. This meant that I had to put a rule in the syllabus that all cell phones had to be switched off in class, otherwise a student might snivel, "...but it isn't in the syllabus!" and therefore whether I had the authority to tell the student to turn the cell phone off was in question.

    That was 11 years ago. My syllabus is now 16 pages long. It is a ponderous thing, including a specific instruction that students may not recycle Scantron forms, and must fill them out starting with question 1 on the front side.

    As I look down my syllabus, I remember each argument I had. So many of them were so unbelievably dumb. I put in the one about the Scantrons after some pierced, tattooed b-school undergrad who claimed he was "a good student" cried in my department chair's office.

    No one ever reads my syllabus, of course, but I know what's in it. I therefore don't hesitate to use the refrain, "It's IN THE SYLLABUS..."

  5. If only I could have that as back up. I have tried the "my syllabus states" argument. I have been told Deany Boy doesn't care and it doesn't matter. I have to do as I am told regardless of what rules I have set up for classroom management.

  6. I feel your pain, Froderick. Each of mine is up to 13 pages with either internal boilerplate OR stuff to stop the nonsense from the jailhouse lawyers, ummmm, students.

    Most of 'em know when I say "did you look at the syllabus" that I'm p*ssed.

  7. I recommend resorting to comedy. Try adding a section to the syllabus on miscellaneous rules. Prohibit obvious things: "No urinating on the desks during class hours." "No spontaneously breaking into showtunes." "Throwing fruit, vegetables, and small mammals at the professor is strictly prohibited." "Students are required to ensure their privates are fully covered."

    Sometimes people read this sort of stuff and realize that there cannot be a rule for absolutely every possible transgression, and there has to be room for judgment and good sense. Usually they don't figure it out, but at least your syllabus is funnier and you get to feel subversive.

  8. Hmmm. The "delivering boxes" comment suggests that you may teach at one of those fake university programs set up to produce low-wage workers for UPS (see Mark Bousquet, *How the University Works,* Chapter 4, available online as a pdf at Could that be?

  9. I work at several. That student is at a state uni actually.


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