Monday, March 31, 2008

Ruby from Richmond Revels in These 18 Remarkable Students.

1 is the first student I ever caught plagiarizing, her telling mistake being that two sentences from her paper appeared in dark grey text instead of black; those sentences led me to the web page from which she’d cut-and-pasted them. After hours of tears and a really sincere apology letter, she then committed the exact same crime again.

2 told me in no uncertain terms, after receiving a “B+” on his second paper, that his parents wanted him to get at least an “A-“ for the semester, so that’s what he wanted me to give him.

3, during a class discussion in which another student talked about alcohol use in her family, asserted, “Maybe your family is just a bunch of alkies.”

4 asked me to write her a recommendation letter but warned me that it was due “somewhat soon.” I’d have to fax it, she said, since she made the request after our early-afternoon class, and the letter was due halfway across the country by 5:00 PM. I think she thought the time zone disparity made her request reasonable.

5 e-mailed me a paper during Spring Break that was in the strangest file format I’ve ever encountered. No program on any PC or Mac could open it. In a text editor, it appeared as an endless string of Qs, 5s, Hs, and 9s. He turned in a paper copy when he returned and argued that it should still count as “on time.”

6 pulled the smartest scam I’ve ever seen. She turned in the first four pages of a ten-page paper; page four even ended mid-sentence. I didn’t notice for a couple days, whereupon I asked her about the missing pages, and she apologized for the mistake and soon provided them. Voila: Her paper is not late (because can you really penalize her for such a silly mistake?), and she got an extra 48 hours to complete it.

7 is the laziest student I’ve ever had. He looked so lethargic I could not tell the difference between Awake 7 and Asleep 7. When he turned in his final paper, it was accompanied by a lengthy composition about why it was late — apparently the paper’s lateness was the result of a collusion between Amtrak, AOL, and the fact that his parents were out shopping when he wanted to use their computer. He once blamed a previous paper’s lateness on an overnight binge of Grand Theft Auto.

8 received a “B” on every assignment and, at the end of the semester, sent me an e-mail demanding to know why he was getting a “B” in the course.

9 rationalized her plagiarism by looking annoyed and saying, “You told us it was a RESEARCH paper.”

10 informed me from the start that he would be refusing to follow standard grammatical rules. “You can keep marking them on my papers,” he told me, “but I won’t change them. It’s my system.”

11 had more than the maximum number of excused absences, each time claiming that her alarm clock failed to go off (and that she thus slept past noon). Once, I asked where she lived, called her building, and confirmed that no power outage had occurred. When confronted, she said that it was her cell phone alarm she meant, and that it had run out of juice.

12 claimed not to have a paper because “the idiots in the library couldn’t help him print it.” I told him I’d still accept it without lateness penalties if he e-mailed it to me as soon as he returned to his computer. I then did not hear from him for several days, Despite sending me an e-mail in which he effused about how much he loved the class, he failed. I offered to meet with him to discuss the grade, and he sent his father instead.

13, during a class field trip, begged our bus to stop at the nearest McDonald’s because he was feeling ill, so we did. Five minutes later, he returned to the bus carrying a burger, fries, and a Coke.

14, on the same field trip, asked if he could use the bathroom. I told him of course he could. He then walked across the street to a gas station, and, standing amidst traffic, urinated on its outside wall.

15, who was in a 200 person lecture section, sent a friend in her place to avoid being marked absent. The substitution would have gone unnoticed had the friend not spelled 15's name incorrectly.

16 brought a laptop to a small seminar class — no lectures, nothing that really requires extensive note-taking. I told him he wouldn’t need it. He said, “Oh, I don’t handwrite.”

17 insisted English was her first language. I didn’t have the heart to tell her she was wrong.

18 showed up to class one day with a perfectly constructed aluminum foil hat.