posted by Dave Hoffman
At Prawfs, Bill Araiza laments unprofessional students:
“So, let’s say a student contacts you, wanting to meet with you, his prof. You set the meeting up — Wednesday at 11:00, say. (By the way, these are not actual facts, Wednesday at 11:00 was not an actual meeting time, nor does this question have anything to do with anything that’s happened to me recently. So there.) The student doesn’t show. The student then contacts you later, apologizing and giving, let’s say, what I would consider a bad reason or no reason at all. The student asks for a new meeting date, soon (say, the next day).”
True: law students (like their professors) sometimes behave unprofessionally, and one particularly irritating variant of unprofessionalism is terrible excuses for trivial offenses. Often, the excuse makes the conduct less forgivable. So, I empathize with a “recent graduate” on Bill’s thread, who snarked “I thought professors didn’t really want to hear about my diarrhea/family issue/bad day that made me miss one meeting/class/clinic? I guess I should have been sending much longer, groveling emails.” Indeed, I provide students free participation passes (a limited number in some classes, unlimited in others), but explicitly tell them not to tell me why they are passing. Nonetheless, every year a student will provide an excuse that is so godawful that it makes me feel angry and resentful. Such as: “I was unprepared and forgot to pass because I was watching March Madness, and I plan on being unprepared until it’s done.” (This was not an email I received, but it was close.) I’ve never known what to do with these bad excuses on petty matters. Not one seems significant enough to engage with:
If you write back, making a lesson out of it, you are a crotchety, tetchy, pompous pill.
If you don’t, and internalize the irritation, you will be a crotchety, tetchy, pompous pill.
Basically, a classic collective action problem.