Arrogant Asshole and the Quest for the Exam

Exams at my institution, as I have indicated previously, are appallingly slapdash, at least compared to the regimented ordeals they were in my day, hem hem. This is particularly true in the case of what we are pleased to call Spring Semester, when there are so few classes the scheduling of the exams by the central authority consists of saying “exams will be in the same timeslot as class, on either of these two days; sort yourselves out”. Sometimes, as was the case for me this year, there is a class immediately before and/or after my class, in which case one class moves to a different, empty classroom, of which there are many.

I mention this time-honoured tradition in the first week of class, particularly for the benefit of students who are working, to let them know that they won’t need to ask for different or special time off for the final (presuming their work schedules are arranged to let them come to class in the first place). This semester, I mentioned the time and date of the final at least 6 times, specifically telling students to take note of the room change to NEXT DOOR. In a charming ye olde touch, the schedule was printed on a piece of paper and posted on a noticeboard outside the department office, and handily labelled “EXAM SCHEDULE”.

In the middle of the semester, in response to a question about what would be on the final, I provided this information, which nowadays, thanks to the Shrinker, includes a digression on why it is not okay to pre-write your essay for the final, shrink it down to 6pt, cut it into strips and paste it to the reading handout for the exam. This conversation also included a reminder of the date and time of the final, and the key information that its location had moved to a mysterious distant room, known as “NEXT DOOR”. This information was repeated in the ultrapenultimate week of semester, the penultimate week of semester, and on the final day of class. Which class consisted of me collecting final assignments and asking if students had all the information they needed for the final. One slightly confused student was, at this crucial juncture, set straight on the fact that the final was on Wednesday, not Tuesday, so clearly it was a valuable conversation, even if it was brief.

Unfortunately for Arrogant Asshole, he missed most of the penultimate week of class, and, by his own admission, did not lollygag over to class on the last day until 27 minutes after the regularly scheduled starting time, by which point, all other students, their thirst for knowledge sated, had departed. AA also declined to read the note I had left on the board indicating that although class was over, I was in my office and would remain there for the next couple of hours. Had he bothered to come to see me, he would have walked past the noticeboard on which Ye Olde Paper Notice about Exams had been posted, but this he failed to do.

Having failed then, to see me, he instead wrote a very snippy email about how it was “obviously too much to expect that class would meet for more than 27 minutes on the last day” (YES, DUH), and that he had submitted his final project electronically.

(I must digress momentarily to have a little MOMENT about this piece of shit he produced. As previously chronicled, AA had declined to present a proposal, and hadn’t done the work for the draft presentation part of the task. He also declined to participate in the peer marking activity, to show me how much he disdained the work of his classmates. When I read his project, however, it became clear that he didn’t ACTUALLY disdain his classmates’ ideas, since he had cobbled together the concepts of two of the best projects into a “blog” which he had written in, best guess, a couple hours. If I had had any doubts about him being a douchebag, they were put to rest.)

This snippy email was followed by another snippy email asking for confirmation of the details of the final. To which email I replied saying, “I don’t know the exact room number, but it’s NEXT DOOR; check the posted information.” I fully admit, here, dear reader, that it did not in the slightest occur to me that the request to confirm the “details” of the final was actually a request for the date and time of the final, since that information had been given half a dozen times in class. My assumption was that it was a request purely about the one piece of information that might have possibly been in dispute, viz, the room change to NEXT DOOR.

Well, apparently this was woefully naive of me. AA then phoned various authorities at the university (including unrelated services, but not, mysteriously the Department Office, outside which the schedule was posted) asking for the date and time of his exam. He was informed that there was no online schedule posted for Spring, because of the “EXAM IS AT REGULAR CLASS TIME” rule. None of this was enough information for AA to be able to deduce the time of his exam. So he waited until 4:22pm the next day (well after the exam was over, what a coinkydink) to make further enquiries.

These enquiries consisted of:
1. Yet another snippy email to me including my name with no salutation, and several one word sentences like “Okay.”
2. Finally a phone call to the Department Office, at which point he was informed he had missed the exam.
3. A snippy email to the Assistant Head of Dept, who awesomely replied it was a shame he hadn’t thought to contact the Department earlier.

I replied to the snippy email saying I would be in my office at a specific time the following day, and that he could take the final at that specific time. RADIO SILENCE.

Seriously. 24 fucking hours of not one single peep from him. He didn’t show up at the scheduled time, although since he is in my gmail contacts (yes, another plug for the Google Empire), I could see that he was online. I took a screenshot and forwarded to the Assistant Head, saying “if he says he didn’t see my offer, that would be an untruth”. Oh, little green available button, what secrets you can reveal.

My Department Secretary, who had been lucky enough to experience some AA douchebaggery first hand when dealing with him on the phone, was highly cynical about his actions, describing them as “playing silly buggers”. She suggested that I enter his grade as an F, since I had finished grading the rest of the class’s papers, and was now, officially, on VACAY. “That will get his attention,” she predicted.

Sure enough, an hour after the posted grades went live, AA proceded to have an email exchange with the Assistant Head about what his options were. I shall paraphrase it for you:

AA: While I admit that Prof Whatladder did, indeed mention the exam during the course of the semester, I still say it is her fault, and not my fault I missed the final.
AH: Yes, it’s a shame you didn’t have the sense to contact the Department earlier. You need to get the “I missed my final” form.
AA: So, is there some kind of timeline on when I should do this?
AH: Minus 24 hours, and counting. Everyone is on vacay, and even the keeners who are still hanging around for a few days will be gone after tomorrow.
AA: Okay, well, I am forwarding the info about my situation to the Dean.
AH: What on earth for? 3 people have now told you to get the form and then come and sit the final. What are you waiting for? An engraved invitation?
AA: I meant the Head of Department.
AH: He’s on VACAY, that’s why you are dealing with ME. Time is ticking.
AA: Did I mention that the last few classes were “practically cancelled”?
ME to AH: This means he skipped them. The rest of us went to class.
AH: I fail to see how this is relevant. You have until tomorrow afternoon to sit.

I called in late this afternoon to see if he had turned up, which he had, BUT without having paid the “I’m a fucktard” fee which the institution wisely attaches to all finals deferred for craptastic excuses. The Department Secretary said “you can mark his final, but we are not changing his grade until we get the cash.”

12 thoughts on “Arrogant Asshole and the Quest for the Exam

  1. fillyjonk

    Don’t you know you were SUPPOSED to call him up on the phone, and personally invite him to come and take the final, and inform him of where and when, and also offer to send a taxi over at your expense to pick him up and bring him to the exam, and then take him home again?

    It sucks that you still have to grade a final for him. I think in my department the response to the student would be “You want to do WHAT?” and laughter from the department chair. And yeah, I’ve had a few people miss finals. If finals week is already over, too bad, so sad, see you next semester when you repeat the class…

  2. ladysquires

    My first semester as a TA, I was required as part of my duties to hold journal conferences with all 40 of my discussion section students during the final week of classes. One class day was cancelled that week due to an ice storm (this was December), so the prof gave us permission to tell our students that there would be NO MAKEUP OPPORTUNITIES for the conferences, at which time and place their journals (15% of their grade) would be marked. I did so in an email and informed them all once again that conferences would be held in the TA office (such as it was) where I had been holding office hours all semester.

    One dude–who was probably AA’s brother in another life–did not show up. When I arrived at the final lecture session, he stormed up to me in front of the other TA’s and asked to know where the hell I was during his conference appointment using a tone that parents use with children who are sneaking in past curfew. I replied that I was in the TA office. To which he replied that I never said that the conferences would be in the TA office, so he went to our classroom. Because apparently college instructors–like elementary school teachers–live in their classrooms and no other classes meet in that classroom ever. Did I mention that this classroom was in another department’s building?

    The prof laughed his ass off when this student confronted him about my dereliction of duty. I wound up making him wait outside my office for 3 hours during the next round of conferences, telling him that if someone else happened to no-show, he could have their slot.

    Everyone else showed up.

  3. Rue

    Don’t be silly. Everyone knows you were supposed to take the final to his house and wait uncomfortably in the living room while he sits it at the dining room table. Duh 😉

  4. unknownPAP

    It might be me or the fact that I’ve only read a couple of these postings (or maybe both) but have you written anything POSITIVE about your students or this student in particular on this blog?

    As a fly-by reader from another university I don’t know if I would be comfortable with seeing a TA, assistant professor, or a tenured professor write so many negative comments about the students in their classroom. Sure, students can be extremely difficult and unaware at times (or maybe in this young man’s case most of the time) but I don’t see how this is grounds for describing the student as a “fucktard” or “arrogant asshole”. I’ve yet to see the discussion between yourself and this young man where you’ve voiced your concerns in an adult manner. If I were department head and I knew a professor had a blog that essentially logged all of my poorly handled interactions with a student I, at the very least, would mention it in the performance review and would hope to see it in the student reviews.

    To take to a blog and describe your interactions (or lack thereof) with a student I’m sure is a very emotionally healing experience and I wouldn’t judge a person for trying to vent. But for all your complaining about student performance, I wonder what a psychology or human relations professor would conclude about YOUR performance.

    1. whatladder Post author

      Actually, I have positive comments about my students in the post prior to this one, but I guess you weren’t as interested in reading carefully as you were in attacking me for what I choose to write on my own blog, in a fictionalized persona. Yes, funny stories I make up about my work make me a terrible person and a worse prof, and you, leaving your judgemental droppings are clearly morally superior. Consider me chastened.

  5. Oh My Nose


    One jerky student can, alas, override the pleasures given by many decent ones. Try not to be that student–or department member, if you’re faculty–though I have dim hopes of that given your posting.

  6. Bobbie

    I, for one, am missing your bloggery blog-blogging something terrible. Please to come back and tell moar funny stories about rapscalliony twats?

  7. Pingback: In which I am collegial. « What Ladder?

  8. Pingback: In which I am collegial. « What Ladder?

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