What's on my mind.

13 March 2009

Never Win.

FSP and Chad are talking about cheating. I left an amusing anecdote about my 8th graders on FSP, I thought I'd tell a less amusing story about a fellow Geo. major of mine from back in the day*.

I had at least 5 upper level classes with Obnoxious Guy (not his real name) over 3 semesters. During the first semester he seemed to get sick the day of a test a lot. He'd then call someone to find out what was had been on the test. One day KK came into class seriously pissed off because she hadn't gotten to bed until the wee hours (due to aqueous solutions needing to be run and the computer not cooperating much) and OG had called her at like 7 to find out about the test he'd missed because he'd been "sick"*. I think KK was contemplating changing her number after that. After some other test he'd had a "migraine"* for, he stopped me on the sidewalk to ask me what had been on the test; I just couldn't remember any specifics - funny that, huh?

More than halfway through the semester he told our optical mineralogy TA that he was color blind. He was hoping he'd get some help (/benefit of the doubt/get off easy) because he would have difficulty with mineral id with birefringence. Unfortunately for OG, one of the other grad students actually was red/green color blind (in geology this kind of thing comes up) and he could tell what order and high/low. Beside by this point in the semester I'm pretty sure our TA was onto him.

OG had non-subtle wandering eyes. For example: In Op Min, as I recall, there'd be 2-4 slides of a given rock type, and one weeks lab might cover several rock types. Everyone has their own microscope and often people sitting next to one another will trade off slides. OG rarely traded slides with the person behind him, he had a definite preference for trading slides with a person whose lab sheet he could see. What's sad is we were allowed to ask one another questions and for help, even when we weren't working in groups, in most labs.

In sed/strat and ig pet we'd almost always work in groups because there weren't enough samples to go around and discussing why a rock is x or y helps you learn how to identify. OG would sit there and not say a word. KK and I were to polite to tell him to fuck off so he often worked "with" us. One day she and I were going back and forth on the percentages of quartz, feldspar, and lithic fragments. The sample was close to the line between three potential classifications, and our different estimates made a difference. We had gone back and forth for maybe 5 minutes, and OG says "so what is it?". KK plops the sample in front of him, and says "I don't know, what do you think it is?" He stumbles through some words like quartz, k-spar, 50%, etc. and finishes with "I don't know, what do you think?" KK and I rolled our eyes and finished deciding what the classification was, he copied down what we wrote and we all moved on.

One day he told us he didn't like rocks, he wanted to do geologic engineering. Scuttlebutt was that he'd been in the College of Engineering but they kicked him out. Another rumor was that one geo prof caught him cheating and told him to "withdraw failing"^ or he'd be reported. Obviously I don't know if any of that is true but it wouldn't have surprised me. I don't have anyway of knowing if he was ever reported to the appropriate authorities or not (or, for that matter, if he actually did anything reportable) but God, did I wish he had been. Still, I never could figure out how he stayed in school; he took many of the courses twice. His GPA had to have been in the toilet.

I spent much of the first semester mentally making excuses for OG, his personality not the cheating. He wasn't from the US (home was in sub-Saharan Africa) and the first thing that I didn't like about him was the way he spoke, not accent but mannerisms and volume; volume was actually the first thing that annoyed me. I told myself that maybe that's normal in his home country. Then when he kept being "sick" for tests, I thought maybe he's gotten away with that his whole life and so doesn't understand how much the rest of us resent it; maybe his family was important/rich enough at home he could get away with shit like that growing up.** Obviously when he refused to help cook or clean up dinner on a camping trip, it was because in the culture he grew up in, it was "women's work". So on and so forth. One day, as I was mentally excusing some behavior I'd find annoying in anyone else, I realized that all of his countryman couldn't possibly be that obnoxious, I was being extremely unfair to them, and he was a jerk no matter where he grew up.

*Migraines can be horrible and debilitating, I know. He may have even suffered from such migraines but since he was sick with something for every test I was highly suspicious.

^After a certain point in the semester you can't withdraw for a course without grade determination (W), it's either 'WP' or 'WF'; even later in the semester it has to be a 'WF'. A 'WF' and counts against your GPA, 'W' and 'WP' has no impact on it.

**I guessed his family had money or connections because he was going to school in the US and had no obvious means of support here. He certainly didn't seem to be the kind of student who would catch the eye of some scholarship granting group.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

When I was at Purdue, I had a student who consistently tried to cheat by trying to get extra test time, tests at the resource center, all those types of things. Things that had to be cleared with me on the first day of class so I could get them set up for the whole semester, etc. I stonewalled him, because I knew he was a slacker and trying to cheat, so he called the PROF at HOME on a SUNDAY NIGHT and proceeded to bitch him out about his "rights" citing the Americans with Disabilities act. The Prof said, "I don't give a good goddamn about the Americans with Disabilities Act. You take the test tomorrow or you fail." And hung up on him.

He took the test.

Also, I've never had a migraine (thankfully!) but I know that if it's a migraine, you can barely call in, let alone be 100% the very next day. I get really really angry at people who use it as a synonym for "bad headache." Take some fuckin tylenol and get over yourself, right?