The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Monday, December 12, 2005


Posted by Seeking Solace |

I have a mystery on my hands.

The research paper for my law class was due today. My students know about my zero tolerance policy regarding late work. If it is not submitted by the precise end of class, I do not want it. The assignment is considered late and the student will receive no credit.

One of my students shows up for class today and tells me that her paper is not done. So I tell her to go finish it, instead talking to me about it. I warn her that if I do not receive it by end of class, don’t bother turning it in.

We finished about 10 minutes before the scheduled end of class. Class ends at 2:25 PM. A student asked me for a copy of the blank outlines that I use in class for notes. Unfortunately, I did not have the particular outline with me. So, I ran upstairs to get a copy. I returned to the classroom and gave the outline to the student. Not seeing anyone flying down the hallway, I left to meet up with GML, whose classroom is around the corner. She was talking to a student. I left the room to give them some privacy. I checked my watch again; the time was 2:27 PM. I walked back to my room; just to be sure no one was there. Sure enough, the room was empty.

After shooting the breeze with GML for 30 minutes, I went back to the faculty area. In my mailbox was this student’s paper. Nothing indicating that it was dropped off. No note of any sort. I called the receptionist to see if she had put the paper there. She said no. I asked my colleagues who in the room if they put the paper in my box. Nope. I asked around to see if ANYONE put the paper in my box. Nada. I asked if anyone had seen this student put the paper in my box, or if she was anywhere within the vicinity of my box. Nothing. No one saw anything.

Frustrated, I checked my email. Here was a message from the student with a time stamp of 2:37 PM. It said

I tried to catch you before you left the classroom but, I was too late. I had to type the paper at school and miss the class because over the weekend my computer crashed. Thanks and I apologize for any inconvenience.

She did not mention that she put the paper in the box. And the statement about being late is somewhat vague. I sent her a message, asking her if she put the paper in my box, and if so when. I have not received a response.

So, here’s my problem. Does her message indicate that she did not hand in the paper by the end of class? Since I don’t know when she put the paper in my box, should I give her the benefit of the doubt? Or, should I be a hard ass and say too bad, so sad?

This one is a little murky, I could use some help here.


Astroprof said...

I would give her the benefit of the doubt (since there is a chance that you might have missed each other in the last ten minutes of when it was due). If the email's timestamp was 2:37, then I'd think it might be tough to turn it in after 2:27 (when you were in the area of the classroom), get to a computer, write and email, and send it. You are right, the note is vague.

Of course, I am a softie.

Anonymous said...

great blog, following for a while now...

imho, your answer to this dilemma is right on your page...
You Are Blitzen
Always in good spirits, you're the reindeer who loves to party down with Santa.
Why You're Naughty: You're always blitzed on Christmas Eve, while flying!
Why You're Nice: You mix up a mean eggnog martini.

Tis that time of the season to be forgiving of past transgressions. You don't want the " ghost of late X-mas papers past" to come visiting on Xmas Eve like some ol' Scrooge movie. Give the student the gift of kindness this season, it will make both of you have a happier holiday season and isn't what this season is all about? Hell, the good Karma ( some people believe in that kind of thing, not me mind you, but some people do) will be worth any lessons you may want to instill in this youngster regarding your boundries. The circumstances are pretty foggy to make an informed decision on the actual events so why waste the frustration. Have a Eggnog Martini, get blitzened, grab the old man (Santa?) and dance a little.

Kiss My Mike said...

Has this particular student done something like this in the past? I mean, does she always submit her paper on time?

If so, I guess I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.

If she has a reputation of submitting papers late all the time, and she has done this before, then I think she's just executing another ploy.

Seeking Solace said...

KMM: That's a good point. I will have to check my grade book

Anonymous: Me, a Scrooge, never in a million years. A bitch perhaps, but never a Scrooge. LOL

Nels said...

I can be somewhat easy with late papers during the semester, but not at the end. Still, this would have been close enough for me.

BTW, can I get a copy of your syllabus for Critical Thinking, if possible? We are developing such a course here, and I'm the chair of the committee doing it, so I'd love any help. You can remove the name of you and the school. Really, I'd just like to know what assignments and topics are covered. But if not, I understand. I haven't done a lot of work yet, but I know I can find a ton of examples online in January when we start this.