This semester I have an Arrogant Asshole (herinafter AA) in my class, of a type I have described before. This one has put off freshman writing, which he sees as beneath him, until the absolute last minute, which means he is forced to do it in the spring semester, when he clearly has better things to do with his time, and my goodness, is the entire thing an imposition. He also (descriptive detail to add realism to the piece) has a piece of hair which he has grown so that it flops over his eye, in order that he can flip it for emphasis when he wishes to particularly express his contempt for me.
I could tell he was an arrogant asshole from Day 1, when he came late, lounged back in his chair and didn’t bother to participate in activities designed to engage the class in learning. He usually comes late to class, and of course he feels entitled to skip at least one class a week.
In the Spring, I have my students do 2 take-home assignments (Task 1 and Task 2) , the details of which they get on Day 1, included in the course syllabus, which has other gems of information like details about what to read, and what the in-class assignments are, and my policy on nose-picking in class (it’s a “no”). The syllabus includes a chart of activities for each class, including deadlines for each part of each assignment, neatly arranged in an easily-readable table. I tell you this because it has become a bone of contention.
On the day the first part of Task 1 was due (viz, a 2 sentence proposal describing students’ chosen topic), AA declined to provide such a thing. “I’ll get it to you tomorrow,” he lied, and then failed to do so.
On the day the first part of Task 2 was due (viz, a 2 sentence proposal describing students’ chosen topic), AA declined to provide such a thing, this time without even bothering to lie about doing it later.
So, the scenario rested in this wise: AA had failed to provide proposals for either of the 2 take-home assignments.
A couple of classes later, we had a class in the library with Lovely Librarian, designed to help students with research for Task 2 (cunning readers will divine that this was the reason I had required students to nominate a topic in advance, so that they wouldn’t spend library time merely scratching their asses). All students but AA arrived in that class with at least a topic idea, and some of them modified their topics in response to help from me and Lovely Librarian, in accordance with my masterful pedagogical plan.
Not AA, though. He had no fucking idea. At the start of class he fed me some bullshit about wanting to write about social media and political change, and then an hour later, his topic was changed to chickens. WTFever, was my response. Having explained in class that the purpose of having a topic approved was to help students not make asses of themselves, I had done my bit. If you want to do your essay at the last minute, I can’t stop you.
So, to be clear, at this point, AA kind of had managed to do ONE of 2 required proposal tasks; the one for Task 2.
A few days later, students were due to give their oral presentations on Task 1, the task Arrogant Asshole had still not started. I sent them a reminder email, entitled “Oral Presentation Reminder Email,” in which I reminded them of the points they should be sure to cover and so on.
On presentation day, students got up and gave their presentations, and a couple were fabulous, and some were okay. In the middle of one, AA, sitting behind me, said “I think I have made a mistake”. How so, I enquired. “My presentation is on my Task 2,” he said. There was only one response to this, so I made it. “How is this my problem?”
AA made a variety of meeping noises, then, said, “I think I can still present.” I suggested he go for it, at which point he got up and started to present on his chicken paper. Students in the front row immediately questioned his method. “How is this about Task 1?” they asked. AA conceded that it wasn’t in any way about that. “So, just tell us about your project,” one helpful woman suggested. This suggestion was particularly kind, because the presentations were being peer marked. Basically, it was an offer to give him a 3 or 4 out of 5 for the task, rather than the zero that appeared to be looming.
AA was forced to concede at that point that he couldn’t even kind of do that because he HAD DONE NO WORK ON TASK 1 AT ALL. This is, FYI, week 4.5 out of 6.
I suggested firmly that he sit his ass down. Fine, but he did it huffily, flicking his hair and thumping into his seat. To further teach me a lesson, he did not fill in the peer evaluation sheet on all his peers, but left it obviously blank, while he sighed audibly during all the following presentations.
At the end of class, he came up to talk to me, asking, in the most fucking obnoxious way possible, what he could do to “redeem himself”. Resisting the urge to suggest prayer, I asked him to explain how he had managed to get himself into such a muddle. His answer was that when he sent me his proposal (for Task 2), I should have recognised that he thought it was also a proposal for Task 1. “Did it anywhere indicate that you thought it was for both tasks?” I asked. “No,” he conceded.
So, basically, having forgotten all about Task 1, he got the two tasks conflated. AA was unwilling to concede this point. So, I turned to consult the Sacred Text (aka the syllabus) and as I turned, he made a noise like a wounded hippopotamus. Seriously, this really loud “AAAARG” of frustration.
“I beg your pardon?” I asked. He said he didn’t want to have a discussion about what he had done wrong, I just had to say if I was going to let him go home that night, cobble a presentation together on a topic yet to be determined, and present on the morrow. “Given that the whole point of breaking Task 1 down into stages was to prevent that kind of last minute behaviour, no,” I said. “You didn’t do the work, so I think a zero on the 5% this was worth is warranted.”
As I was saying this, he pulled out his phone and started texting. “I assume we’re done here, then,” I said, and turned to deal with the other student waiting to talk to me, whose jaw was on the floor at this point. AA is so arrogant, you see, that he is teflon to the embarrassment another student might feel at arguing with a prof in front of other people.
I went home and shared this tale with Feckless Husband, who, in flagrant violation of Freedom of Information laws asked me the guy’s name. “Oh him,” he said when I revealed it. “When he was in my class, instead of doing his interview assignment, he made stuff up, so badly that it was obvious.” Trufax.
Arrogant Asshole declined to come to class the next day, but appeared the following day, and at the end of class, harangued me for another 10 minutes, because, he decided, his failure to present was my fault because my syllabus was ambiguous and UNCLEAR. My response to this was twofold. One: everyone else managed. Two: had you ever done the proposal for Task 1, you would have not been in this mess.
“So, you’re not convinced by my argument?” he asked. This was hilarious, because Freshman Comp is a class that teaches argumentation. “I don’t think you’ve really supported it with compelling evidence, no,” I replied. “Well, I thought it was pretty good,” he retorted, which, I have to point out, is TOTALLY his problem here. Perhaps that swishy piece of hair is a barrier through which information cannot pass.
He flounced out again, much to the amusement of the girls at the back of the room, who said “we were so hoping you wouldn’t give in”.