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Academic common room

Unreasonable requests from students: Sense check

276 replies

LaChanticleer · 22/01/2022 15:09

Just a place to moan really - in the last week, I have received the following requests from students:

  • that I come down (2 floors) from my office to the entrance of our security locked building to let them in for a tutorial they had booked with me because they couldn't find their id card (you know -slide the id card in the card reader to gain entry to an unportered building)

  • after sending out an email to my students in a module with a link in the email to my tutorial booking website and put in bolded letters "KEEP THIS EMAIL" and also putting the link in my email signature, several emails from students asking me to send them the link.

    I politely responded NO to all of these requests, but what I really wanted to say was:

    grow up
    you're an adult
    I am not your secretary

    AIBU as an academic? (btw, I'm a senior professor). Do these students realise that they're behaving quite rudely & unprofessionally?

    But beyond my own frustration at them treating me as if I'm their servant, just how do we prepare them for a workplace, where behaviour/requests like this would really land them in the shit? if they asked a senior colleague or maybe their boss, or someone who was funding them, they'd be given short shrift, and probably have a bit of a black mark against them ...
OP posts:
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Flipflopblowout · 22/01/2022 18:13

@BeyondMyWits

If these 2 things are happening on a regular basis, with many different students, then something is lacking. Not necessarily in the students.

So a student arrives unprepared whose fault is it then?
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MananaTomorrow · 22/01/2022 18:15

@KLD76, has anyone sat down with you to teach you how to search an email from the email address/name?

Because no one has ever done that. I just tried and learnt.
Now I’m a dinosaur who had never seen a computer until I arrived at university. But these are you g people who grown with that technology. Surely they should have a better handle on it? Or they can learn on the job, just like we have?

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cansu · 22/01/2022 18:15

How is it being mollycoddled to ask someone to resend an email you can't find? I have done this before and I am a highly educated and responsible person. Likewise, I have on occasion forgotten or misplaced my keycard. Weirdly enough, my colleagues don't sit in their offices and refuse to open the door to teach me a lesson. If a student was doing this constantly then fair enough but it is just odd and unpleasant to make a point of saying no.

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Bitbloweyoutthere · 22/01/2022 18:19

It's because when they're in school, their teachers ARE their servants.
Cba doing your mock? Allow me to give up lunch time so you can do it.
Cba doing any work for 2 years and now shitting yourself? Which night would you like (apart from my 2intervention nights and one meeting)?
Oh, you need an A for your course and it needs to be in my subject and you've been asked to come and look at my ppas so I can tutor you?
You want me to what? 'Fuck off you slag'? Yes of course, but we'll have to have a chat about it tomorrow so we can clear the air.

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3cats4poniesandababy · 22/01/2022 18:21

U can understand being annoyed if it was a repeat offender but no professionally people wouldn't hit the roof over those things.
Last week I forgot my fob to get into our building, I saw a senior manager's car (who is 4 grades above me) so rang them. No ig deal. If I did it weekly then yes he would get annoyed but a one off no we laughed about it and got on with our days.

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burnoutbabe · 22/01/2022 18:21

As it just shows you are a bit stupid if you can't find an email you have been sent.

Same as of it happens at work and you have to send it again, politely but clearly showing you did send it to them on x date when they have accused you of not sending it.

All our university emails are generally generated by posting on the module anyway so it would be on that page as well.

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Clymene · 22/01/2022 18:28

Anyone this incompetent wouldn't last long in our workplace. It's about knowing what's appropriate. They should try and resolve the situation every other conceivable way before they bother you. It's rude and entitled.

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ineedsun · 22/01/2022 18:36

@5thHelena

Well you're a barrel of fun aren't you! Jeez cheer up

They’re a senior (SENIOR) professor - too important to be bothering with being helpful.
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rookiemere · 22/01/2022 18:37

As a relatively senior person in an actual workplace I have - on occasion- been asked to come down to vouch for staff who have forgotten their passes, just as people have had occasionally vouched for me. Unless it's habitual or they don't thank me ( which has never happened) I probably wouldn't even remember past that morning who I'd had to let in.

The email link thing is annoying I grant you, but when this happens to me I passively aggressively resend them the original one and suggest that they save it or the link in their favourites, but again it's hardly a hanging crime.

The workplace has generally become less hierarchical which is a good thing IMHO.

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ineedsun · 22/01/2022 18:37

@dreamingbohemian

I totally agree with you, on everything

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Mundra · 22/01/2022 18:39

According to a government minister they're customers, you know. And they're entitled to demand their money back of they're not satisfied Hmm

I would say a business owner is also within their rights to refuse to serve a customer.

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Saintandsophia · 22/01/2022 18:43

@cansu

How is it being mollycoddled to ask someone to resend an email you can't find? I have done this before and I am a highly educated and responsible person. Likewise, I have on occasion forgotten or misplaced my keycard. Weirdly enough, my colleagues don't sit in their offices and refuse to open the door to teach me a lesson. If a student was doing this constantly then fair enough but it is just odd and unpleasant to make a point of saying no.

I agree, it’s an absolutely pathetic power play.
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Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g · 22/01/2022 18:52

The primary job of a university academic is to do research. Teaching used to be an add on which most academics grudged doing because it's time consuming and added little to their CV and promotion prospects. That has changed a bit in recent years but it remains true that most academic promotions go to the people with the best record of winning grant funding and getting their research published in prestigious publications.

When I was a student, well over 40 years ago now, it was unheard of for students to expect anything much from academics. Most of us had come straight from school with only limited experience of employment and none of living independently. Some people couldn't cope and dropped out. The rest muddled through and learned a lot in the process. It was a brutal system but a better preparation for a lifetime of working than the overprotective mollycoddling that so often happens now.

Students are not paying academics' salaries. The research councils and other grant-awarding bodies are doing most of that. What students are paying for is the opportunity to study to an advanced level, using the university's resources - library, e-learning service, laboratories and teaching from experts in the subject. They are not buying a degree. They have to put in the work or they won't pass. One of the things they have to work at is learning to organise themselves and study independently. It's a big step up and some find it easier than others.

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Saintandsophia · 22/01/2022 19:02

I am slightly confused and have to confess feel gaslighted. Where has anyone said that students are ‘buying a degree’?

I wonder if arrogance is at the heart of this issue, plus the never ending lecturer strikes which the students are expected to support.

I think the entire situation needs a root and branch reorganisation so that both parties know what is expected.

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Saintandsophia · 22/01/2022 19:03

I would agree that so many academics have no experience of employment outside of the university and possibly have an inflated sense of self importance?

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Saintandsophia · 22/01/2022 19:05

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WeWashEverythingExceptLaundry · 22/01/2022 19:07

I appreciate these things are irritating, but I'm afraid your emphasis on being a 'senior' professor does make you sound rather fond of yourself and as if you consider yourself above going slightly out of your way for mere students. In isolation, the things you describe don't sound all that terrible, either. People are scatty and crap sometimes, usually because they also have other things on their minds. A degree of tolerance for a degree of non-ideal behaviour is no bad thing (one reason being that if you are known for getting exercised over small stuff, it has less impact when there is big stuff you need to get exercised over).

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MananaTomorrow · 22/01/2022 19:09

@Saintandsophia, what makes you think that someone has a self inflated sense of importance for asking something like checking your emails before contacting your tutor?

I’ve just asked my 18yo what he would do. He immediately said ‘ask my friends’.
Contacting the tutor is NOT the obvious answer to ‘I haven’t followed the rules and now I’m in the shit’.

I’m wondering if a lot of those answers are linked to the fact women are socialised to always help and when one of them holds their boundaries, it looks like they are ‘bad’ to not following the woman’s script.
Never mind that if it’s quite likely the student wouldn’t have asked a male professor…..

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MananaTomorrow · 22/01/2022 19:13

@Saintandsophia


Teaching doesn’t mean paying academics though. It’s also for paying a lot of other people who teach but whose primary job isn’t to teach undergrads…..

The fact that academics are paid for their research first are foremost isn’t incompatible with students fees spent on ‘teachers’.
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SpinsForGin · 22/01/2022 19:16

@Saintandsophia

I would agree that so many academics have no experience of employment outside of the university and possibly have an inflated sense of self importance?

That's not true for many universities though.
In my department the vast majority of us have come from industry.
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ProfYaffle · 22/01/2022 19:20

It does seem odd that you don't have;

a) a system students have to adhere to if they forget their id, eg sign in reception and get a visitor pass

or

b) some sort of online platform where all the module information is stored for everyone to access whenever they need it.

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SpinsForGin · 22/01/2022 19:22

some sort of online platform where all the module information is stored for everyone to access whenever they need it.

Unfortunately in my experience that doesn't stop students emailing staff for the information!
All my module information can be found via our VLE and I send regular announcements. I still get students emailing me for information which could very easily be found online.

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Mumteedum · 22/01/2022 19:29

[quote MananaTomorrow]@Saintandsophia, what makes you think that someone has a self inflated sense of importance for asking something like checking your emails before contacting your tutor?

I’ve just asked my 18yo what he would do. He immediately said ‘ask my friends’.
Contacting the tutor is NOT the obvious answer to ‘I haven’t followed the rules and now I’m in the shit’.

I’m wondering if a lot of those answers are linked to the fact women are socialised to always help and when one of them holds their boundaries, it looks like they are ‘bad’ to not following the woman’s script.
Never mind that if it’s quite likely the student wouldn’t have asked a male professor…..[/quote]
Absolutely agree with this. I certainly don't think male and female teaching staff have the same experience.

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ProfYaffle · 22/01/2022 19:31

"I still get students emailing me for information which could very easily be found online." So? Surely the point is they're not dependent on your reply? You just re-direct them.

This is just a part of working life, people continually fail to look stuff up properly. No need to get angsty about it, just steer them firmly to where they need to go.

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BitcherOfBlakiven · 22/01/2022 19:34

Also OP, us students don’t know what your pay grade is or how long you’ve been there Wink

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