A few things have happened to me that makes me wonder a) what I’ve gotten myself into and b) what in the fuck is wrong with students today.

For instance…

Before leaving for my trip a few weeks ago, I made it clear to my students that I would not be taking any questions about an assignment due the next Monday after the prior Friday morning.  I said it 3 or 4 times in class, and it was in the PowerPoint slides I posted online.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I get an e-mail asking if I can meet late Friday afternoon.  As I wasn’t checking e-mail, I didn’t get it until late Monday.  On Monday morning, the same student also sent me an e-mail saying, “I need to ask you questions, call me at __________ as soon as you can.” Do WHAAAT?!

For starters, I am not at your beck and call, sweetie.  If you had questions, the time to ask them was 4 days ago.  Even if it were within the timeframe for questions, like hell I’m just going to call you to take questions.  You may e-mail me or visit me during office hours just like everyone else.   Of course, you wouldn’t know all of this because you spend the whole damn class texting on your Crackberry.

Second, my time is valuable, and for the most part, uncompensated.  I also highly value my privacy, and therefore no student will ever get my personal phone number for any reason.  If the University can’t provide me with my own office with my own phone line, I can’t be expected to provide an invasion into my time and privacy to compensate.

Another darling specimen came from the murky swamps of spring semester.  This particular fellow turned in a paper 8 hours late that was 2 pages short.  I repeatedly said that late papers got a zero, no exceptions.  No, not even you.  Standards: I haz ’em.  This assignment was the culminating project of the semester that not only made up a large portion of the grade, but also was part of their digital portfolio that had to be formally assessed (stupid pseudo-accountability).  I gave the slacker an extra couple of days to turn in a 5-page paper that would be assessed but not graded.  Frankly, it was more than he deserved, but I figured a little kindness wouldn’t hurt.

Boy, was I ever wrong!

He came to my office (outside of office hours, unannounced) to whine and beg for at least partial credit. In a moment of weakness, I caved and said, “OK, fine.”  So then I proceeded to read his paper. Darlings, prepare yourselves…


Whole paragraphs.  And then, for his final trick, he copied and pasted directly from my PowerPoint slides with no citation.  Gee, how’d I catch that?

I printed up the paper and supporting evidence and marched it all down to the dean’s office.  She spoke with the student, and said that he needed to resubmit a paper that was actually his own work. He then e-mailed me in May and then again in June to ask why he didn’t have a grade, and I stated that until he submitted a paper that conformed to the assignment, I was unwilling to assess anything or change his grade.  I then heard nothing from him…

Until last month, when he e-mails me literally an hour before the final deadline for late registration, asking me to read his paper, assess it, and submit a grade change.  Never mind I was neck-deep in about 3 concurrent projects.  Still, like the good Do-Bee that I am, I stopped everything and read his paper.  Yep, still plagiarism. I told him as much, and then he…get this…asked me to highlight the portions of the paper that I thought were not his.  Seriously, pal? If you’re going to copy and paste from the internet, at least have the brains to remember what it was.

Finally, a few days ago he send me a paper that as far as I can tell is original, so I assess it and am able to submit a final grade (which in this case was a B–).  I made some sort of diplomatic statement like, “I’ve done everything I can do, so further questions go to the dean’s office.  Good luck with everything.)

Now, apparently, he’s badgering the other instructor of the course to change his grade even though a) it’s a higher grade than he really deserves and b) she doesn’t have the authority to change his grade. First he plagiarizes, then he whines?  Small wonder I’m developing a Darwinian pedagogy to scare or weed out these weasels.