10 things to ban (instead of bottled water)

These things annoy Prof. Pettigrew far more


Photo courtesy of Sergey Vladimirov on Flickr

Last week I wrote that banning bottled water from universities was environmentally sensitivity gone too far. I hinted that there were other things much worse, and if we are going to start banning things, water should be way down on our list. Just to show that I am not entirely a spoil-sport when it comes to forbidding things, I offer 10 other things that I would rather see disappear.

1. Cheap cologne. While cheap perfume for women seems to be on the decline, cheap cologne for men seems to be making a comeback. Bottom line: I don’t want to smell you. Period.

2. Asking a professor where another professor is or when another professor will be back. It’s always the same: student arrives at Professor Hallcross’s door and knocks. No answer. Knocks again. No answer. Comes to my door: “do you know where Professor Hallcross is?” No. How would I know? Do you think we professors have some kind of universal academic GPS? Do you think I have a magic map showing his footprints moving through the Hufflepuff common room?

3. Non-specific email help requests. EG: “I don’t understand the assignment you gave us. Can you explain it?” No, because I don’t know what course you are in, which assignment you mean, or what part of it you don’t understand.

4. Pretending you didn’t know plagiarism was wrong. You cheated. You got caught. At least own up to it.

5. Walking in large groups slowly down the hall. Some of us have places to be. And for that matter, don’t you have somewhere to be? The library? Class?

6. Doing homework from one class in another class. You’re missing my thoughtful comments on Oscar Wilde, and I’m distracting you from memorizing brain anatomy. Why bother?

7. Asking what you need to do to pass the course after the course is more than half over. Think back to the beginning of class and you’ll recall that I told you what to do to pass the course…

8. Asking for a higher grade so that you can keep your scholarship or get into a program you want to get into. Those scholarship and admissions committees rely on me to let them know how you’ve done. If I raise your grade to the line they have set, it defeats the purpose of the line.

9. Bird courses. If there’s no way a student can try hard and still fail, then it’s not a serious course. This is mostly the fault of professors, but hey students, don’t feed the birds! Challenge yourselves.

10. Asking your course adviser which profs are the “good” ones. I don’t know what you think a good prof is. Do you mean funny? Conscientious? Easy grader? And even if I did know what you were looking for, I don’t see other professors in the classroom. Most times I don’t know if they’re what you’re looking for. Even if I did, I’m not going to bad mouth my colleagues. Well, except one.

Once we’ve gotten rid of all these things, then you can talk to me about water.


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