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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Ungrateful wench

No, not me (though that's probably true enough); I'm talking about a student of mine from last semester.

She emailed me a week ago to ask about the possibility of my writing her a rec letter for internships next summer. It was a nice email, showing obvious foresight, offering to meet with me at my convenience to discuss her applications and goals, and outlining reasons why she thought I'd be a good recommender: our class was tiny, and as it had four papers, each of which went through two complete drafts, I know her work pretty well.

The thing is, I was also pretty sure she'd written one of my two worst evaluations. I don't know that, of course (and since INRU does on-line evals, I couldn't sneakily compare the handwriting against my final exams), and it seemed unlikely that she'd ask for a rec if that were the case . . . but I'd had mixed feelings about her all term. She was talkative and outgoing, definitely an asset in discussions, and she was undeniably hardworking (wound up with a B+ that was pretty close to an A-), but she just never seemed to get what made a literature paper different from, say, a history or Poli Sci paper, seemed disastisfied that I wouldn't give her hard-and-fast rules to follow, and vocally disliked most of the novels we read for reasons that I felt were kind of bogus (ex: the villain in one novel winds up rich and successful--and she went on and on about how unfair this was).

After discussing this with GWBoyfriend, and reviewing my evals, I decided that she probably hadn't written the really nasty one, and I further decided that I could write her an honestly positive rec letter. Not one of my glowing, "best student in a class full of outstanding students" letters, but one that would serve to highlight her obvious strengths.

So I wrote her back, said that I'd be happy to write her a letter, would indeed like to meet with her, but since I'd be teaching elsewhere we'd have to figure out something for some day when I was in town.

And . . . I haven't heard back from her. Not so much as an uncapitalized one-line "thanks so much!" Which really pisses me off and reminds me of another beef I have against her--the fact that I'm 90% sure she's responsible for taking a GREEN HIGHLIGHTER PEN to a brand-new library book and sloppily marking pages and pages and pages of an essay she cited in a research paper.

Manners, people! Who raises children these days?

I really want to rescind my offer now, but that's just petty. Maybe I could do something passive-aggressive like sending her an email "just to make sure" she got my previous message?

link | posted by La Lecturess at 10:03 PM |


Blogger BrightStar commented at 11:07 AM~  

if the student suggested a meeting ahead of time in order to discuss the letter face to face, then your next email could focus on checking in about the time / location of the meeting, and if the meeting can't be established, then you can't write the letter.

rec's are no fun. :(

Blogger meg commented at 2:05 PM~  

I find myself boggling at the lack of display of gratitude of students all the time. So, this fall, I'm going to make academic etiquette part of the curriculum of my frosh seminar.

Blogger lucyrain commented at 2:56 PM~  

I wouldn't write her again. You clearly lobbed the ball into her court. No need to pursue this kind of work for yourself.

As for the library book? Un-for-giv-ah-ble. These vandals deserve a special place in hell.

Blogger Ianqui commented at 5:45 PM~  

I'm with lucyrain. You're better off if she doesn't ask for it after all. And if it turns out that she gives you too little time in the end, THEN you can tell her no--she should have contacted you earlier.

Blogger La Lecturess commented at 9:48 PM~  

Meg, I love the idea of teaching students academic etiquette!

I think I'll go with the consensus opinion and let this thing lie. Who knows? She may find an instructer next term whom she'd rather write her a letter.

And as for the highlighting--I did send out an email to my entire class after I found the highlighting (& there were marks in other sources she used, though not in highlighter), just remarking that I had found lots of ink markings in sources several students had used, and IF any of them were responsible, they should never never never do that again: they're only at INRU for four years, but these books will be around for at least 50, and are meant to be used by generations of students--so for gawd's sake, use tape flags, or photocopy the pages you need, but don't destroy a communal resource in one of the country's best research libraries. (Ya fucking entitled ingrates, I wanted to add.)

Blogger Stewgad commented at 11:31 AM~  

Don't these kidlets know that
1. Our time is precious.
2. Books are sacred.
3. Evaluations have a significant impact on our futures?

Sigh. I'm with lucyrain and ianqui - good riddance.

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 8:23 PM~  

As an academic librarian, I must chime in to applaud you for the email you sent your class about NOT MARKING UP the LIBRARY BOOKS! I've never understood why students think it's okay to do this. Personally, I had a hard enough time, when I got to college, learning that it was okay to write in books that I OWN. :) Anyway, thanks from me and all my colleagues in the profession for standing up for our books!

--Mrs. Professor B :)

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