MEDP 299.47 Pushback, Fall, 2009 – Part VI: The End

RB: This was to be a comparatively long narrative about a 30-40P student, a CUNY Macaulay Honors College student, who fails MEDP 299.47 for being serially disruptive for most of the semester despite repeated warnings from the instructor.

But it was decided to keep it short: An oxymoron ever there was one, that is, an honors student serially disruptive of class and openly contemptuous of students and the instructor.

RB starts the semester off by saying in Room 470N that she wouldn’t be able to do the Commute assignment because the L-Train, her main transportation for coming into Manhattan, was too crowded in the morning. So many passengers are jammed into the car, that she is so squished by straphangars, that it would be impossible for her to write in her steno, she says in class, causing this instructor to be suspicious about her being a legitimate Macaulay Honors Student.

Was she nuts? Purely Puerile? The Commute assignment requires students to take descriptive notes of their roundtrips to campus. Information from conversations overheard to what the student journalists observe should be recorded in a steno  usually beginning the second month of the semester. Students must become virtual recording operations. Their final efforts are to be given to the instructor in narrative form to be published. A few students embrace the assignment as if they’re telling the greatest story ever told.

I play along, trying to be soothingly inspirational, acknowledging the onerous tasks of  her onerous dilemma of dealing with the squished bodies of a Manhattan commute, concealing reproach and suppressing admonition forming in my brain, that she should take the F and do better on the other assignments or don’t take the F and just drop the class. It was sooooo early in the semester that the instructor decided to be patient with the student who claimed to be worried about being squished on the L.

We crossed paths in byways of the Hunter North and Hunter North buildings in subsequent weeks and engaged in simple talk, and I subsequently avoided her or pretended not to see here because she was always lamenting that she wasn’t appreciated at the PR firm where she worked. Her colleagues and supervisors thought she was snooty. However, it soon became clear in the course of class discussion that she WAS recording her commute observations in her steno. And, I eventually thought  that the issue of the L-Train squish was over and that she was only eccentric.

And as the semester progressed more and the vapors of Pushback of the other MEDP 299.47 miscreants thickened, RB’s irritating tap-tap-tapping on the keyboard increased. So, let’s cut to the chase. She was told repeatedly to stop typing while I was talking. She was then warned repeatedly to stop typing while I was talking to the class. She was subsequently told twice that she could flunk the class for being disruptive. She eventually snarled at a student who saw me staring at her one day as she typed and tried to advise her to stop.

So, she flunked.

She complained to a Macaulay administrator that I had flunked and had refused to accept any of her assignments. The administrator complained to a Hunter administrator who contacted me for a clarification because there seemed to be issues of Academic Freedom at stake. Short version: RB, once she was flunked,  had been told in class and in writing that she should continue to do the assignments in the event she wanted to appeal the F. But she was told the instructor wouldn’t accept the assignments, that, if she appealed, a grade appeals committee might want to see what she had done. So, she should do them and hold them for judgement day, it was suggested to her, but don’t give them to me.

After a discussion with the administrator, I told her that she could turn in the assignments which wouldn’t be graded, thus allowing indulgence in a formality, that being if she did appeal, she could say that she continued to participate as much as possible in class and did assignments even though the instructor refused to grade them, that she was following class guidelines even though she had failed the course.

Without going in too much more here and now, she was given a F, which was converted to a W, which is on her transcript.

And so it goes.

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