Category Archives: exams

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.”

3rd Annual Advice for Exam-goers

This is totally a tradition now, since I have done it twice before.

So, here goes.

  1. Be willing to accept that “this course has a take-home final” is an actual true thing. I am not saying you have to take the instructor’s word for it the first time you read it on the syllabus, but be willing to draw a line. Give yourself a guideline, like “the tenth time I hear this, I will be willing to believe it,” or “I will only email the instructor to ask this 3 times, if I get the same answer each time”.
  2. Accept that the take-home final will not get an official time and room allocation on the exam schedule. Sure, we could put “Your Bedroom, 2am on the morning the final is due at 9am,” but that would only work for 85% of students. The keeners would go mental asking if they PLEASE couldn’t do it earlier.
  3. This might seem like an undue technological burden, but if your take-home final has to be submitted electronically, you need to learn the submission process. This may take more than 60 seconds, especially, and this is critical, if those 60 seconds are the 60 seconds before the absolute and final deadline.
  4. Recognize that turning up to class on the last day, when you haven’t been to class in a month, is not a subtle and cunning plan. Your Prof, while she may not know whether you are Kaytlin, Caitlyn, Kate-Lynne or Qua’tlyn, does have rudimentary arithmetical skills, and being more wily than you, gave the vital exam hints in the third last class. PWNT.
  5. If you are going to cheat by using the high tech method of texting a photo of the exam question you can’t do to an accomplice, you should work out the details in advance, so that you don’t end up leaving clues like “look this up in the book and then text me the answear” on your exam paper for your prof to find.
  6. If you fail to adequately pre-arrange your cheating via text, then write your instructions in PENCIL, so you can erase them, thus avoiding leaving the vital clue on your exam paper.
  7. Make sure your accomplice is not a moron who, after all your preparation, sends you the wrong “answear” anyway.
  8. I have given this one before, but it bears repeating. “Answer 6 questions” means answer SIX questions. Not five, or WTF, seven.
  9. Take a stab at the essay question. It’s an English essay, for fuck’s sake. You can probably bullshit your way to a D+. Writing “I have no idea” just makes your Prof depressed.
  10. If your Prof rushes out the door of the exam after calling “time” at the end, in order to vomit into a handy garbage can, wait patiently for her to return. Running after her waving your exam book just risks getting your answers sprayed with puke.


Terrifyingly Final.

I still occasionally get anxiety dreams around finals time. It’s like some kind of holdover from the end of high school and my first couple years of undergraduate work, when I would have a nightmare about missing the final (or possibly WORSE, taking a final in the nude), only to wake up in a cold sweat and realize it was 6am on the morning of the final. On at least one occasion, I woke up, realized it was the morning of the final only to have a series of mishaps which resulted in my missing the final, only to wake up. My subconscious is a bitch.

My point is, that finals were a big deal, nerve-wracking enough to cause nightmares, and possibly stomach upset.

Students arrived at the giant shed that was the Exhibition Building annexe where invigilators in white coats would look sternly at your ID before letting you in to the drafty, sparrow-infested barn. You took your place at your assigned wobbly desk, and began the ritual of wodging enough pieces of cardboard under the legs to prevent it from teetering while you wrote your paper.

English exams had 30 minutes of “reading time” (shitting yourself time, more like), at the beginning of which the English Profs would swan in, looking fabulous, check to see if there were any questions about the exam paper, and swan out again, no doubt to go get shitfaced at the Lemon Tree.

There were rules of conduct at these exams: line up and wait to enter the building, sit where you are told, no talking, no leaving in the first 30 minutes or the last 15, put your hand up if you need assistance because a sparrow shat on your paper.

Exams were serious business, and “final” meant “Final”. Later on in my undergraduate career, exams were replaced by final essays, but they still had the same sense of awesome terminality about them. If the essay wasn’t done by the scheduled due date and time, you had to sit in an assigned final room with an invigilator, and jolly well finish it. No extensions, not even the whisper of a possibility that someone would listen to a story that started, “so, at 2am I finished my essay and then tripped over the power cord when I went to turn on the printer…”

Exams were scary, and you know what? That’s how they should be.

At my institution, most exams are held in regular classrooms, and students feel so cozy they go right on in to the room before the examiner arrives, and get totally comfy, and no doubt stick their cheat notes under the desk, and then they get all butthurt when I turf them out and ask them to wait until I am ready to come into the room.

“Sit where there is a paper” is like some kind of foreign instruction to most of them. They take an exam booklet from the pile of spares, and then are bewildered when I suggest they spread out around the room, rather than sitting right next to their best buddy so the two of them can collaborate on their essays.

They take injunctions about putting electronics away as personal insults. “How dare you suggest I would use my iPhone as anything but a clock?” Okay, I am as old as dirt, and these devices were not available during my exam days, but I really don’t think it would have crossed my mind to argue about it.

Our exams are invigilated by professors, rather than neutral outsiders. No doubt this is cozier and friendlier, and students may feel reassured by having the prof in the room, but you know what? I think exams SHOULD be as scary as fuck.

The result of all this informality and friendliness and casual approach to the exam is that “final” seems more like just a test in a regular class. Without the miasma of terror, the idea that missing a final is the end of the world has entirely disappeared. To many students, missing a final isn’t much worse than missing a regular class.

We have processes to let students make up finals, and I have to admit, I have, in the past, let students who mistook the date, or slept in take make-up finals. I think word gets around. Missing the final: no big deal.

I don’t think I have yet had a student top the guy who waited 6 weeks to say anything about missing the final, but it’s early days yet, of course. I did have emails from 2 guys who missed the final, though, and who were utterly astonished that I actually saw that as a big deal.

Guy #1 emailed me after the final to say that he had missed it “due to circumstances”. Damn you, circumstances! He wanted to sit the final because he suspected that not sitting it might mean that he wouldn’t pass the class. I wrote back to say that yes, he could pay the fee and sit the deferred exam, but that given that he was sitting on 26% for the course, he shouldn’t put too much faith in a final worth 30% to put him over the top into a passing grade.

He was astonished. Astonished, I tell you, that he was doing that badly. He had thought he was doing fine. Given that 3 of the 4 assignments he had handed in for the class were still sitting, graded but uncollected, on my desk, I guessed that his problem was delusional rather than mathematical.

Guy #2 was even better. He emailed me after his final was over with nary a mention of missing it. Why would he mention missing the final? He had missed all but one of the classes for the entire semester, and all of the assignments. He was, however, sure he could make up the work if I would only give him an extension.

When I declined to take him up on this tempting offer, he shot back an email full of accusations of lack of empathy, and bad teaching. How on earth you judge someone’s teaching from one class in which you sit clicking your pen so obnoxiously that I am obliged to take it away, I don’t know. Or perhaps I do. Anyway, my teaching was obviously irrelevant, since he was convinced he could do the work despite, you know, having missed all the classes. If I weren’t such an un-empathetic bitch.

It’s tempting to blame this kind of entitled attitude on Generation Snow, and obviously, flakiness is a factor. But I am willing also to cop some of the blame for this one. Exams are not terrifying enough anymore, and in worrying about student discomfort, we are, perhaps, doing them a disservice. Final should mean final.

Advice for exam takers, redux.

Last year I made a list of 1o essential pieces of advice for exam takers. This year, I offer some new advices, which now means that this is an established tradition. For the close of 2009, we focus on general behaviour and examination etiquette.

  1. This one came up last year, but I am forced to reiterate and expand. Do not go into an empty exam room before the invigilator arrives, and set up your camp on a desk with your 6 pencils, and your water, and your hand sanitizer and your 45 gonks, and your extra lucky eraser. Your invigilator, should he or she be a committed professional, is going to turf you out and look for the cheat notes you taped under the desk.
  2. If you are one of those plan ahead people, and look up the examination room weeks ahead of time, you should double check the room the day of the examination. Yes, room changes are rare, but you know that if and when they happen, the new room will be way over the other side of campus, and now you are late. And lost.
  3. Give yourself plenty of extra time, especially if the exam is in a room you have never been to before. Also, if the room numbers don’t get high enough before you get to a big door at the end of the corridor, try going THROUGH the door and checking whether they continue on the other side.
  4. When you are 20 minutes late to the exam, Red Bull will not slow down time. Not even 2 cans of it. And now you have to pee, which wastes another 10 minutes.
  5. Your invigilator is there to prevent cheating, not to act as a pharmacy and/or stationery store. If you need tissues, pencil sharpeners, cough drops, bottles of water or gonks,  you need to bring your own.
  6. No, the person supervising the exam is not going to tell you the answer to question 7. Even if the supervisor is your professor, who wrote the exam, and who presumably knows the answer.
  7. Asking again will not get you an answer, either.
  8. When the invigilator writes several time intervals on the blackboard and erases them, this is to give you an indication of the passage of time. It does not create a magical digital chalk clock. Asking “is the time on the board accurate” will just confuse everyone.
  9. For fuck’s sake, take a fucking shower. People are going to be locked in a closed room with you for 2 hours. BO is not going to get you bonus marks.
  10. If you are going to smoke a joint before the exam, start early enough that it doesn’t make you 20 minutes late. Oh, wait. Maybe it would be better to wait until after the exam to smoke the joint.

Cheaters, and their prospects of prospering.

When last I left you, I had given the work of the student (hereinafter known as 6pt) a hearty zero for its cheatery, and no bonus points for ingenuity.

As anticipated, there was an exchange of emails, starting with the barely disguised outrage of the first one, which suggested that I had made some kind of mathematical error, and ought to amend it, sharpish. I replied puckishly about cheating on the final meriting a low mark, and then wandered away from my computer for several hours, engaging, no doubt, in binge-drinking and/or childcare.

This, was quite, quite wrong of me, according to the student, who had fired back an email about expecting to meet me in my office an hour later. Dude, summer vacay. Chill the fuck out. Following some more back and forth over when and where I might be available, we met in my office.

I expressed my WTF, and asked what she thought she was doing. Much crying, because OF COURSE, I am rooning her life with my expectations and standards and similar. Basically what came out was that everything was my fault because I had:

  1. Given students the opportunity to do preparation for in-class assignments, which I had repeatedly called “workshops” and “not tests” and allowed students to work collaboratively in, thus creating a climate in which students thought it was okay to bring prepared work to class. Never mind that exams are different to class. I wave dismissively at your petty objection.
  2. Made comments, including “you may not write on the back of the paper because I don’t want any question that you brought in a prepared essay,” and “no, we can’t do the exam in the lab because I would not be able to prevent you from bringing in a prepared essay,” and “you need to pull your finger out because you write slowly and you are never going to get 2 essays done in 2 hours at this pace,” which had been ignored by the student. The ignoring part is filed as my fault because, ignoring is exactly the same as if I had not been clear.
  3. Said “notes” and when questioned about how big the notes could be, and how many words had repeated “a few notes”. This is clearly open to interpretation as “write your whole essay, I don’t care”.

Additionally, this student has had business exams in which guessing the essay and bringing it in seem to have been the main sporting events. The fact that I neither knew about these exams nor had any input into their requirements is irrelevant. This is not about me.

After listening to much more of this nonsense than I wanted, I said to the student “Okay, let’s say I take your word that you weren’t on purpose trying to cheat,” which was more of a benefit of the doubt moment, because really, it was pretty clear that what had happened was that she threw commonsense to the wind in pursuit of grades. So, I said, what do you want? Well, dear reader, what she wanted was for me to say “oh, okay then,” and change her grade to an A.

This, I could not do. Even had I wanted to, I could not do it. I explained this. I explained that the mechanisms for appeal did not include instructor whim. I (and then we) would have to meet with the Chair to discuss what was possible. The Chair at that moment being in another country, this was tricky. Well. How dare I not be able to teleport him back instantly to pay attention to her. Did I not know that this whole thing was stressful for her?

At this point, I confess, I began a program of heel-dragging. I waited until after the public holiday following the Chair’s return to email him and set up a meeting, rather than emailing him late on the preceding Friday night. I delayed on relaying this meeting time to the student, because, really, I was quite keen on her being stressed. I was stressed, and I was supposed to be on vacation.

The Chair and I agreed, that given the circumstances, we could exercise discretion about reporting her for cheating, and not do it. This was, let me be clear, our concession in mediation. There would still be a grade penalty because she had, effectively, cheated. (To those of you boggling at the illogic of this, the way it happened was that we compared her action to that of a student who had buggered up his or her MLA citation on accident. In those cases, we give a penalty for the buggering, but don’t call it cheating.)

So, we had the meeting. She wailed, she wept, she complained. The best part was the part where she said “I am willing to take responsibility for my actions it is all Prof Whatladder’s fault for being unclear.” Just like that. In one breath. Taking responsibility, I do not think it mean what she think it mean.

After listening to her for an hour, the Chair sent her away. Our problem was that she took several hours to write a paper that was supposed to be written under exam conditions in one hour. How, then, to mark this paper, even had we wanted to. I did not want to, let me tell you. Eventually, we decided, in the interests of getting her to STFU and go away, that we could give her a mark for the portion of the paper that was not affected by extra time, viz. the ideas. This is not a great solution, and it didn’t do much to raise her mark. I agreed reluctantly. I don’t like the idea of rewarding whining. I left, Chair said he would meet with her. Case closed.

Until yesterday, when I got an email from the Registrar, saying that 6pt was appealing her entire grade, and from the circumstances it looked like she cheated, so why hadn’t I thrown the book at her.

See, 6pt was not happy with the mildly improved grade and the pass for cheating and the not being reported and having on file that she is a cheater. Even though, as she artlessly confided to the chair, she had to photocopy her essay “several times” to get it small enough to fit on the page, at no time were her actions in any way deliberate. She was determined to get the mark she wanted. Her idea of a compromise here is an A- rather than an A. So she had filled out the report to the Registrar, including the fact that she had received a zero for “actions not in keeping with the spirit of the rules for the examination.” Indeed.

The Registrar, having seen 6pt’s account of events, was naturally wondering whether I understood what my responsibilities were in cases of academic dishonesty.

This, dear readers, is what you get for being nice. What you get is stick from on high. Do I understand my role here? I am certainly beginning to, and if at all possible, I would like my role not to be “goat” or “doormat”.

I explained the situation to the Registrar, who wrote back to say “Well, if you say it wasn’t deliberate cheating, then you can’t punish her, and you should give her, like, a B or something,” along with a really offensive sentence about understanding that part of my job is to do the right thing, rather than worry about the letter of the law.

So, those are my choices. I can report her for cheating, or let her get away with it. GUESS WHICH ONE I PICK?

What did we do for lulz before email?

By which I mean, I get a lot of hilarious email from students saying stuff I am sure they would not be so foolish as to say in person. Email lets students send weaksauce excuses without having to go through the face-to-face embarrassment of barefaced lying, and it lets them ask stupid questions they are too chicken to ask in class, for the most part. I get a ton of emails that are sent 5 minutes after class often asking questions that were answered in class already, or that ask for clarification on things I mentioned (and have often asked “Is everyone clear?”), or that ask embarrassingly basic questions. (Eg, “What’s a tunic?” Answer: “Do you own a dictionary?”)

Sometimes students save these for the end of class because they don’t want to ask them in front of the group. I get that. You are a moron, and you want to keep that a secret from your peers. Somehow email makes this stuff less embarrassing, because maybe it feels like you are just asking your computer, and not your actual prof, and besides, asking in email means you don’t have to watch him or her hold back snorts of derisive laughter.

Then, of course, there are the inadvertently amusing infelicities in expression, and the emails that are so dreadfully written that they engender gnashing of teeth, banging on keyboards and demands that colleagues come and look at what this asshole has written.

Once in a rare while, there is an email that transcends all this mundane amusement, and launches itself into the realm of epic lulz. Such an email, I was lucky enough to receive on Friday. I share it with you, mildly edited:

It was my first term at college this year in the fall semester. I was enrolled in your English 101 course and completed the course. However, I checked my exam dates on the college website on the Saturday before the exam week. Unfortunately, the English 101 exam was on that Saturday morning and I had completely missed it. I was very concerned about it because I have NEVER before missed an exam, and never before had exams on the weekend. I am wondering how I could fix this.

Okay, you read that and you might smirk a little. Dude “completes” the course, but forgets to go to the final because he isn’t quite sure when exam week started. He’s a loser, but shit happens. It’s no worse than the girl who missed her exam because she confused the date and thought it was Thursday instead of Wednesday, or the stoner who slept in and missed the 8am exam, or the other girl who didn’t realise that she had two exams at the same time until, like 15 minutes before they both started, OMG.

Ask any department secretary, and she will tell you these are common or garden student doofuses, and that every exam period there will be a handful of them, suffering from terminal “can’t get my shit together” which is generally fixed by having them sit in the next available slot during the exam period.

Ah yes, the exam period. Here’s where “I can’t believe the final was on Saturday” dude really launches himself into the stratosphere. See, in all previous known cases, students who missed the final and figured it out, like later that day, as he claims to have done, were in contact with the prof and/or the department pretty much the next day. Monday at the latest. So while their mistakes were embarrassing, they were fixable.

Not for this guy, though. This guy waited – wait for it – 6 weeks before he sent his email. SIX FUCKING WEEKS! Can you believe that? He’s “very concerned” and that prompts him to wait an entire 42 days before doing anything about it. That was time for the entire exam period to be over (since, as he notes, the exam he missed was on the first day), all the marks to be in, everyone to be off for more than 2 weeks for Xmas break, the new year to start, the new semester to start, the add/drop date for the new semester to be over, the supplemental exam period for people who were hit by a bus to be over, and academic probation reports to come out. This last, presumably, is what finally prompted him to get in touch. That, or his parents to ask how he did on his exams.

You know what really puzzles me? This is not an outwardly dumb guy. He was getting a B before the exam debacle, and he can walk upright. Hell, he has a licence to fly a DC10. I am guessing that the pilot exam was not on a Saturday morning. Either that, or the airline industry has been involved in a long and complex conspiracy about just how hard it is to fly an aircraft.

You know what I am over? Pineapple.

So, today I popped into work to do a little marking, and my Chair said that little phrase guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of any Prof – “do you have a minute”?

So, apparently, Pineapple boy is shocked and horrified that he didn’t pass my class, and he very cunningly went to see the Head of Department armed with the assignments that he passed, cunningly leaving the ones he failed at home. His cunning, let him sho u it. Unfortunately, the Chair has had some experience of student cunning, and asked him if there was work he a) did not hand in, or b) failed. So that was a bit of a blow.

Also, what came up in discussion (although I don’t know how, and am dying to) was all the eating in class. Pineapple boy mentioned the food, to which the Chair said “Oh, I know all about the food”, and proceeded to lay it on the Pineapple that eating in class was actually forbidden by policy, although instructors had discretion to allow it. This information so shocked Pineapple Boy that he was heard to utter the words, “Well, when can I eat?”

I don’t know what’s funnier, that the Chair clearly took the several minutes required to suggest to this guy that he eat during the break, or before or after class, or that he found it necessary to recount to me that he had done so. All of which is a great big check mark in the “It’s not just me” column when it comes to dealing with Pineapple Boy.

Anyway, all of this was because the Chair wanted to let me know that Pineapple Boy might be asking for a meeting to discuss his grades, but that all parties have agreed that this meeting might be better mediated by a third party. My choice:  some guy dressed up as a vegetable.

In other news, I am mean.

This meanness most recently manifested itself in telling a student, let’s call her The Wet Mess, that I wasn’t going to let her write the final.

Context: TWM managed to make it to 6 classes all semester. That’s not 6 classes of a class that meets once a week, either. That’s 6 classes for a class that meets 3 times a week. On two of these 6 occasions, she was advised by me to drop the class, since she wasn’t attending and had failed her midterm. Prior to the final, I emailed her to let her know that since she had not handed in a bunch of work, her grand total for the semester was running at 12%, and there was no way, mathematically, for her to pass the course.

Envirnonmental context: It was snowing like buggery the day before said final, and on the day, the temperature was hovering around -25.

Despite all of this, of course, TWM turned up to the final. Dude. Srsly. I pulled her aside, along with another no-hoper and suggested that they do something else with their 2 hours. I know other profs who don’t say anything, but, I dunno, it just doesn’t seem right to me to let someone sit, because the only reason he or she is doing so is out of forlorn hope. Mostly they leave, but occasionally they still want to do it. Okay, whatever.

TWM’s reaction was to burst into tears. At this point, I dug my heels in, for two reasons. 1) I knew I had a roomful of delicate little butterflies, and letting a crying one in was likely to be detrimental to anyone she sat near. 2) She said “Letting me sit would make me feel better”. No way am I enabling that kind of shit. If you fucked up your semester, you deserve to feel crap. You don’t get to sit the final, fail and then say “It’s okay, I tried my best”. Fuck that noise.

Then, of course, she tried to guilt me about her “medical condition”. This would be the medical condition you never mentioned to me all semester, even when asked the direct question, “Is there something going on in your life that is making it hard for you to cope with your courseload?” Outside the door of the final is not the place to be bringing this up.

So I drew a line in the sand, and no doubt she will relieve her feelings by writing nasty things about me on Rate My Prof. Anything to stop you having to take responsibility for your actions, sweetheart.

Also making me crabby: my wii is broken again, and the stupid buses that don’t come because it is -25. It’s -25! That’s when I need the bus to come get me before I freeze my ass off.

Asstards, Liars and Wankers from the End of Semester.

The end of semester tends to bring out all the creepy crawlies that have been hiding under their assorted rocks. The ones who disappeared weeks ago suddenly filter back up to the surface. Here, then, is a sampling of the delights they have to offer.

The Desperate, via Email:
Hi Prof
I realise I haven’t been to class since week 2, and I really wanted to learn, and you seem like such a great teacher, and I am sorry I didn’t take the time I should have taken to absorb your pearls of wisdom. Is there anyway I could still pass?
Me, ticked:

The Liar, who looks me in the eye:
Me: So, I don’t seem to have your research essay.
Liar: I totally handed it in on Wednesday [this, by the way, would make it 10 days late, but who’s counting].
Me: ORLY? Where did this supposed “handing-in” take place?
Liar: In the Office. I utterly gave it to the Secretary.
Me: So you signed the book of handing-in-ness?
Liar: Probably.
Me: [steely glare]
Liar: Not exactly.
Me: So, where did you hand it in?
Liar: Look, they obviously lost it.
Me: Are you sure you want to continue in this vein?
Liar: How about I give it to you on Monday?
Me: How about you print it and give it to me NOW, since we are in a lab, and we have the technology.
Liar: Oh, it is on my laptop, at home.
Me: Okay, so go home and submit electronically.
Liar: I have to go to work.
Me: So, submit it later.
Liar: Okay.
Needless to say, the essay did not show up.

The Arrogant Asshole:
Me: So, I don’t seem to have your research essay.
AA: I decided I could take the 15% hit.
AA: Sure. [Exit, stage right.]
Amusing Suck-up: I guess he missed the fine print in the course outline that said you had to submit that essay to pass the course.

The Guy with nothing better to do with his time, apparently:
Me: So, before you go in to the room for the final, I need to point out that you haven’t handed in any work, and therefore have a zero percent chance of passing the course.
Guy: Yeah, I kind of got behind.
Me: So, you know, writing the final isn’t going to resolve this situation.
Guy: I don’t mind.
Me: You get that you won’t pass, right?
Guy: Yeah. [Goes in and sits down, and gamely takes up a pen.]