Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Little Saturday Smackdown.

To Your Highness, Great King of Entitlement:

I have decided to respond to each line of the semi-literate and offensive email you sent to your very capable teaching assistant. My comments will demonstrate that I support her actions and decisions in every way.

But before I convey my response, may I remind you of something you already know: Rather generously, ALL students in this class have been given the opportunity to revise their essays so that THIS TIME, they might use proper citation form. Those of you who take advantage of this opportunity will lose only 10 points (out of 100), instead of receiving the Fs you actually earned on your first attempts at writing an academic essay. Given this coddling, you dare to whine?

“I got the email about citations and I totally disagree with the way that this is being handeled.”

Your “disagreement” is your prerogative, but means absolutely nothing to me. In addition, your spelling is atrocious.

“Its not anything against your teaching, but I feel that if so many students messed this up it cannot be a issue of not doing the assignment correctly, but rather a lack of communication and teaching.”

I do not care what you “feel.” Your teaching assistant explained citation rules in your discussion section, displayed these rules on an overhead projector, and posted citation guidelines on the website for this course. She carefully observed what I call the “Three Time Rule For Undergraduates.” I will clarify this rule for you: Tell undergraduates EVERYTHING three times, and hope beyond hope that one of these iterations will be retained. Her meticulous adherence to this rule is, to me, sufficient evidence of her ability to communicate, and her ability to teach. I daresay that the fact that so many students “messed this up” is, rather, evidence of the inability of most of your peers to follow simple, clear, thrice-repeated directions.

“We are all smart students here at [Middling University] if we weren't we wouldn't be going here.”

If you were actually smart, you wouldn’t make such patently false assertions. If you were smart, you’d know where commas belong. If you were smart, you’d surely be going to a much better school. I suggest you take a look at the admissions office’s published statistics regarding admitted students. Your SATs and ACTs are average. Your GPAs are average. The only thing remarkably above-average about you as a group are the incomes of your families. The degree to which you all have swallowed unquestioningly the administration’s compensatory puffery never ceases to bewilder me.

“I feel that not just myself, but everyone should not be punished for a horrible effort at communicating the assignment.”

While I am able to decipher the meaning behind this wretched syntax, again, I still do not care what you “feel.” No one was “punished.” I did not take a cat-o-nine-tails to any of you, despite the occasional temptation to do so. As a matter of fact, you were all offered the opportunity to rewrite and resubmit your essays. And despite your overweening sense of entitlement, everyone in this class shall receive the grade he or she EARNS. This is how it works, at least in my classes.

“I hope you read this and talk to whoever you have to try and help your students out. I am not paying $30,000 dollars a year to be cheated out of a grade.”

Your teaching assistant did “talk to whoever.” I am “whoever.” And while I seriously doubt you are personally paying ANYTHING to attend this school, I am sure your parents are. (By the way, if they’re paying full freight, they’re getting rooked.) And if you dare ask them to contact me in order to amplify your pathetic complaint, I will refer them directly to the Dean, as rules of student privacy require. As to your accusation that we are somehow “cheat[ing you] out of a grade,” your final sentence again betrays unbelievable arrogance, and an astonishingly puerile level of self-involvement. Let me put this as clearly as I can:

Your parents’ money does not entitle you to ANYTHING in the way of grades.

Your teaching assistant and I are not paid to give you grades, nor can we “cheat" you "out of” a grade. You earn your own grades, you arrogant little twerp.

You have been given the undeserved gift of an opportunity to rewrite, and to provide COMPLETE, CORRECT, and CONSISTENT citations, and thus to improve said grade.
Finally, we suggest you temper your infantile petulance and show some gratitude to your professor and to your underpaid and overworked teaching assistant, particularly since in our shared inclination toward kindness and mercy, we are refraining from squashing you like a bug.

Most sincerely,
Professor "Whoever"