Remember my survey class? The one that had papers due on Monday? I got this email from a student in the middle of the afternoon on Thursday:
Dear Professor Lecturess,
I am writing to you in reguards to the paper that was due on monday. I have not yet handed it in, however I can assure you I will hand it in to you in class on Friday. You see, the reason for it's lateness is, initially, I was under the misimpression that the paper was due on Wednesday, and when I came to class on monday, I was unprepared. So I figiured I would take the one penalty-free excuse.
Due to a broken printer, I resorted to printing in the computer lab. However, when I came on Wednesday to print, the computer said my disk wasn't formatted, even though I know it was. So again I was unprepared. Being only able to go to campus on tues and thurs, I had no other choice but to hand it in on friday. I am greatly aware that these events do not excuse the tardiness, I just hoping that my paper could be graded with the 2-day penalty free extension in mind? It's just too early so get off with such a bad start! Lady Luck I guess. But I am making a personal oath to you and myself that for now on all my papers will be handed in on-time, every time! But thank you for your time Professor Lecturess, and I'm sorry for any inconviences this may be offering you. See you in class on friday.
This is a student who has never once spoken in class (except when I've asked him to read passages aloud, as I do all my students), and who I don't believe has received higher than a 3/10 on any quiz. I don't have a sense of him as a person. However, I DO have a sense of my assignment specifications, and I outlined those specifications on both the syllabus and on the assignment sheet for this paper: students may take one two-day extension on either of their two essays, but they must let me know in advance. After the class period ends on the due date, their papers drop 1/3 of a grade for each 24-hour-period that they're late. Both policies are standard for this survey class--I adopted them off the syllabi of two long-time professors here.
So I wrote him back:
In order to take your one free extension, the terms of the assignment ask that you request it *in advance*; at the very least, you could have spoken to me after class on Monday to explain your confusion over the due date (although the due date IS listed on both the syllabus and the assignment sheet).
Even so, you STILL had the opportunity, on Wednesday, to speak to me about your printing difficulties. You could also have emailed me on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. You might also have asked me if I would have accepted an emailed copy of your paper, at least as proof that you had completed the assignment on time. As it is, I have no reason to believe that your paper was, in fact, completed on Wednesday. (I'm not saying that I don't believe you; I'm simply saying that you've given me no reason to!)
Please bring your paper with you to class tomorrow. If you ALSO email it to me immediately, tonight, I will penalize your grade by only 2/3, or two days, rather than the four days that the assignment would actually be overdue by classtime tomorrow.
It's nearly midnight now, and I haven't heard from him. I'd like to think that I called his bluff, but he may have called mine--what's the point, really, of lowering a grade by more than 2/3? Especially when it's unlikely to be very good to begin with? I don't particularly want to lower his grade by more than that, but come on! There's a social contract here! You email me Sunday night, tell me your grandfather died, I agree to believe you, and give you the extension. At least you showed some minimal amount of courtesy or at least awareness of class policy.
(But then I think: what if he's telling the truth? What if he IS just that much
of a dumbass?)