A 30-40P Episode Ever There Was One

I came across this student-instructor correspondence [provided later in this post] while searching for other material on my hard drive. The Student-In-Question was an excellent writer as well as considerably bright. He was in his late 20s or early 30s.

In my class, he also was functionally indolent.

I plan to use this anecdote and others for my tome about The Four Barnacles of the Apocalypse.

TSIQ didn’t turn in homework assignments and, on occasion and in front of the other students, asked for special consideration, such as an unreasonable extensions on homework due on the day that he was begging for relief, even though I had already said more than once that there would be no spot extensions. I don’t give extensions to students who show up to class without a scheduled assignment. I also don’t grant extensions to students who email me a request for an extension the day before an assignment is due. I announce this several times in the early part of a semester.

Eventually, TSIQ sought to disrupt class – that’s part of the pattern for many 30-40P students. If their con doesn’t work, they may resort to mocking the instructor, and if that fails to get them what they want, then they resort to disruption. And the most desperate resort to acting out behavior such as cursing, shouting and acting menacingly.

So I made him an example of him for the benefit of other students in the class about what happens to students who disrupt class. I admonished him right there in Room 470 Hunter North (the J-lab) – tactfully, of course – and sent an email later to the class, describing his behavior but not mentioning his name, and explaining the College’s code for disruptive students.

Coming up first, below, is my detailed email to TSIQ explaining why I failed him and that’s followed by his detailed rejoinder. I’ve given him partial anonymity here (for the time being).

On Dec 15, 2007 6:15 PM, Gregg Morris wrote:

Students were told to bring all their graded material to the student-professor meetings for me to do a final review of their work this semester. It’s not unusual for students with a lot of Fs on their assignments (in addition to the Fs on my grade card for assignments not done) to show up for the meetings (as you did) only with their steno books.

Sometimes, students don’t even show up with the stenos.

You have more than a sufficient number of Fs for a failing grade in this class. That is, F’s on graded assignments and F’s for assignments you didn’t do. Your grade is F for this class. If you want to appeal, go to the 10th floor of Hunter East, the Senate Office, and request the grade appeal form, which will explain the guidelines for the grade appeal. The process starts in the spring semester when classes resume.

The F/M grade appeals committee will want to review all your assignments based on what has been described in the syllabus and course guidelines, thus, it will also want a copy of the syllabus and the written course guidelines. If you can’t provide them, I will. If you don’t like the committee’s final decision, you can appeal to the Senate. But first you have to appeal to the department if that’s what you want to do. Send me your snail mail address, and I will return your steno after I check it for its veracity. You should expect to receive it sometime after the holidays but before mid-January.

So, we don’t have to meet Monday.


Gregg Morris
Assistant Professor

Date: Sun 16 Dec 09:39:54 EST 2007
From: ljamesgame@gmail.com Add To Address Book
Subject: Re: MEDP 292
To: gmorris@hunter.cuny.edu

Prof. Morris:

A grade of F is fair to you? I worked my behind off in your class trying to make events and keep dates with people I was interviewing all while tending to my personal life of a family & three jobs and fulltime classes. And so one may say, that has nothing to do with the class right. Wrong, especially, if concessions can be made to the professor who is late everyday but once. Sir, we don’t know why you’re late, and it wouldn’t be the first time a professor explained why he/she was late. Sir, I think this should be factored in before committing to failing anyone.

In the context of 50minutes, Sir, there is not enough time to get enough help by one professor running around explaining his illegible handwriting and then telling you what you have to do to become a better news writer. I stopped pleading with you in the middle of the class, because you did not understand me, but you were hugely more attentive to others. I won’t get into biases through the impersonal format of an email. I do journalism and PR, most likely more than anyone in your class. Yet, I have never followed any so called guidelines (because many don’t care or follow it), so now I have to conform to not only the traditional way, but your own editorial licensed view. Sir, I would ask for help while you were going around the class about what I needed to correct and you didn’t have enough time to really sit down with me. It was noticeable and clear as you’re speaking walking away from me. To be honest, you needed at bare minimum of 10 minutes with everyone to meet needs. With my workload, I didn’t have enough time to meet you in your office.

Honestly, Prof. Morris, I don’t want to insult you as you did sending an email out to an undisclosed group of people claiming that a grown husband and father and leader in his own community is some how “whining” or in some ‘special needs category’, but I will say why are you allowed to be so rigid and unbending. We got into a whole discussion, when I told you I needed the day off because my wife was going into induced labor and then when she went into labor another day, and I couldn’t in class, you tried not to hear me. Sir, why so inflexible?

It’s possible Prof. Morris that you may often be thinking in the context of journalism that it is imperative that you operate as a structuralist to rules, aggressive in combat, and maintain tough principles as if you are being watched by journalist gods or simply other journalists. Maybe, that should be done in an interview with President Bush or whatever. But, we’re just students trying to get a decent grade comparable to the work we did. This is a commuter school; we can understand why you’re late, why not recognize our shortcomings.

True, I missed two assignments, but you allowed at least one student, I believe more but I go off of facts, an opportunity to turn in late ASSIGNMENTS. That is irrefutable, Sir. Everything I handed in had TF, but I only received one final grade of F, so contrary to what you scribbled on your index cards, I didn’t have F’s on my papers.

But, you gave me an F on that paper for what? Here’s the problem, and mind you, that I like principles too, if you’re going to ask us to have steno books and take a certain amount of specific data, and schedule meetings with people shouldn’t this work be added into the grade. It is frustrating for students to get an F, after they did everything right except produce a good paper. And, yes, my papers are terrible. I don’t know how to write that style. Reading my work and then scribbling on it and speaking to me for two minutes is not going to make me a better news writer. Ever since the first paper, I was writing inside of a box to please what you liked, poorly, at that. But, I’ve been doing my own news journalist work outside of this traditional way of doing stuff, and have been doing more than okay. Trust and believe it. I don’t write under Lawrence James.

But, Prof. Morris do you think it’s fair, to give me an F on a paper, in which I had to meet the schedule of an interviewee, and walk with him while writing? But, let’s say my papers were that bad to you. Fine. Isn’t it possible for an excellent paper to be artificially manufactured since you do not check the steno books except that one time? Please, Sir, do not think it didn’t happen. And please, it wasn’t possible for you to detect it well after the semester, even if you look at stenos months after.

In summary, and I apologize for the long email why is there a double standard, between your time and the students’ time. You can come in late and hand back papers late, but we can’t hand in late papers or come in late. Where’s our concessions? Then there is a double standard between the students, in which some can hand in late ASSIGNMENT papers and some cannot even get a third draft in. What was up with that logic? I’m not even talking about that single F paper. I brought to you a C- paper and you would look at it again. Then you complain to me about ‘homework in the class’, but wasn’t everybody printing their work and tightening it. There’s a printer on, Sir, in the class. Lastly, some students, even if you hated their written article, at least you should have been grading their work towards getting the finished article, I mean, that would be fair. If you would have checked my steno often, you would have seen that I stayed within your confines of work; because that was the one thing I was clear on. As an example that you and I know, I had three sources yet, but, because you didn’t see it in the paper you marked me down or factored it in reviewing my paper, yet, subsequently you saw it in my STENO. Shouldn’t that alone, alter your judgment of grading papers? We don’t have to difficult on purpose, Sir.

No, sir, respectfully, I will not accept an F. My work in your class, although not near A caliber, it was most definitely not in F either. I understand a bad grade, but factor in everything before committing to failing any hardworking student. That’s principled. Sticking to your guns is sticking to your guns. It’s not always principled.


Lawrence J.

PS.: I didn’t consciously leave my papers at home. Nonetheless. you also said students could write an optional article 2 weeks in advance and you said i can reschedule with you this Monday. Who is perfect here? Only I must pay the consequences? Respect.

I’ve yet to read this whole lament. The deceits and mischaracterizations were discouraging. That is, the lament lacked the kind of wit that would have carried me through his argument. And he never appealed, missing a good opportunity to try for a grade that he didn’t deserve because at the time of this email exchange, D:F/M’s grade appeals procedure was flaming incorrigible.

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