Friday, February 1, 2008

Marshall the Manipulator.

I get sick of the manipulation, even on a small scale. My classes have been in session for 2 weeks now, and that's 4 classes of material. Sure, one day is an intro (syllabus, guidelines, etc.), and that's not a big deal. But on the other 3 days my class has really been making some progress.

So it's with such terrible dismay that I got 2 emails yesterday from different people telling me about poor Marshall, a student of mine who's missed the first 2 weeks for a variety of reasons. My departmental administrator wrote to tell me that his small town in Vermont had bad weather and he couldn't get out until after the first class of the semester had run. Also, there was some kind of dorm problem once he got to campus.

My department chair wrote to tell me that he came by to tell her that he was really excited about the semester, but his on-campus work schedule had not been set yet, and he simply couldn't put his mind to classes until that was sorted out. Oh, and of course he can't afford the textbook yet, and he felt it would be disrespectful to the professor to arrive in class without it.

The gist of each email was that I should cut Marshall some slack. I don't know what kind of charmer this kid is, but he's gone out of his way to talk to 2 people in my office, and neither was me. He clearly knows who his prof is, and instead of dealing directly with me, he's going to anyone he can think of to tell his tales of woe.

I'm not unaware of the challenges students face. I've mentored and advised undergrads for 12 years now. Marshall, had he come to me directly, would have had my sympathy, and I could have made allowances, helped him get caught up, even lent him a book. But because he's gaming the system, I simply want to crush him.