Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

So Furious I Could Spit Or: My First Parent Encounter

Yeah, that's right, bitches. My first parent encounter. A parent. Of a college student.

Holy Schniekie, I need a new job.

This morning, Mr. J. and I were discussing our upcoming move. (This Saturday.) Apparently, the last lovely individual who lived in our soon-to-be-new home was "stealing gas." How you do that, I'm not really sure. But now our new place is in a "gas lockdown" and Mr. J. had to send all kinds of documentation to the gas bastards to show that he's not the previous resident/gas thief. Anyway, tomorrow they need someone (probably me) to be there to let them take the lock off the meter, etc., etc,. and of course, they'll be stopping by sometime between sunrise and the fifth of never and will someone please be home during those times? As Mr. J. and I were trying to figure out who could be there when, the call waiting beeped and I ignored it. It was my advisor/program coordinator.

I called her back. Just in case there is any confusion - I have two "co-advisors" and I love them both. In many ways, I don't think a gal could ask for better advisors.

Dr. K. said in her sweet, lovely voice, "Um, Teacher Lady, we had a parent call and complain about you." My heart stopped. I have been waiting for this since I started teaching sex. I have heard horror stories about parents calling about "traumatized students" which is why my syllabus is now 107 pages long and includes many warnings about "If you have a sensitive nature and are easily offended, etc,." I showed a very short clip from the movie Kinsey Monday night and I thought perhaps someone was traumatized by it. And I didn't even show the scene with the full-frontal male nudity! But no, the parent didn't call to complain about Kinsey. Get this:

Mondays, I take a class in our building, then I had 15 minutes to walk across campus to my parking lot then drive my car over to the OTHER "across campus" to show up and start teaching in a different building. The class I'm teaching was, inexplicably, and for the first time ever, offered in the physics building. Typically, it's offered in the same building where I take my classes. Makes sense, because they're all offered by the same department.

Anyway, about a month before classes started, I called our lovely department assistant and asked if she couldn't switch my classroom to be in our building, because really? I wasn't going to make it across campus - twice - in 15 minutes. She is a true saint and managed to get me in our building.

However, if you printed off your schedule, say, when you registered back in February and never checked again to see if anything (i.e., the ROOM) had changed, you would be quite lost. Literally. Now, personally, I always go into the student database and double-check the time and classroom on the first day of classes, because I know lots of things can change right up until the very last minute. I guess not everyone knows that. And yet. The university doesn't even mail out printed, detailed schedules anymore. It's all electronic, baby.

So, apparently, one of my Baby Einsteins went to class on the first night and he went to the original classroom in the physics building. I guess there were 5 other students there who were equally lost. They waited 15 minutes and then all left. Three of them e-mailed me to say they went to the physics building but didn't know where I was, so could I please e-mail them the syllabus and tell them what they missed. I did e-mail them the syllabus and I was happy to tell them what they missed.

Monday night (no class on Labor Day), approximately 6 students came up to me and told me THEY were the ones who had been waiting in the other building, what did they miss, etc., etc., I apologized for any confusion and said that I had changed the classroom back in the beginning of August. One female student said, "But I checked online that morning, and it said our class would be in the physics building." I thought that was odd, because 32 out of 38 students managed to make it to the correct building, and the database is a universal record - it's not different for every student who views it.

I found out what was happening. A student, we'll call him Hap - short for Hapless - has missed BOTH class meetings. He called his father and told him that he was so confused and now so far behind that he would probably have to drop my class. May I say? This student made no effort to contact me or the department to find out WHERE the class actually was. (And, if you can read, the correct information is on the university website. But again, you have to be able to read - i.e., know what section number you're registered for and know WHEN you're taking the class, because another instructor is also teaching Sexuality Monday nights in the physics building, but at a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TIME!!! However, her section is listed first and in order to see my section, you do have to scroll down a bit, so I can understand the difficulty that entails.) What a can-do spirit, by the way. Apparently, by dropping my class, he would have gone below full-time status and would no longer be eligible for student health insurance. His father - let's call him Mr. Hapless - did NOT want to put his son back on his health insurance and apparently, this was the real issue. So while the son can't manage to call or e-mail me or the department to find out where the class meets, the father was able to call our department, scream at the receptionist and then scream at our department chair. My advisor's boss - remember? The one who supports students NO MATTER WHAT. Yeah, that guy. Anyway, I guess the father of Hap went on and on about, "What the hell kind of professor changes a room and doesn't even notify the students and why am I paying for this education when my kid can't even find it and now he's so far behind that he'll have to drop the class and WHAT is wrong with you people? And I know it's not just him because there were DOZENS of students waiting at this other building." And of course, Dr. Spineless apologized profusely and said he'd get right to the bottom of it and then got my advisor and she called me and here we are.

And I thought today's blog post was going to be about the Designated Mess missing class on Monday and - of course, missing the first quiz.

EDITED TO ADD: May I present an e-mail from my department chair: (And just when I thought I was too young to have a stroke!)

Teacher Lady-Thanks for your response relative to Hapless. What you did and your explanations all make sense although from his record etc I can see how he would be anxious about the situation.I would like for you to make contact with him and assure him thath e has not missed too much and can catch up. Thanks for your assistance. Dr. Department Chair who loves students and hates faculty.

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15 Comments:

Blogger Miss Britt said...

The stories you tell on here about COLLEGE student make me worry about the state of our HIGH SCHOOL education system. Seriously.

September 13, 2006 3:33 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

that is just out right ridiculous. I think any parent calling any professor and sticking their nose in their offsprings's business is absurd. one of the points of college is that your child is an adult, and needs to take his education into his own hands, and not have mommy and daddy call for "progress reports" or whatnot. bullwinkle. I'm so sorry you had to put up with that.

September 13, 2006 4:41 PM  
Blogger Mrs. T said...

Ridicuous. Absolutely ridiculous that a parent would even think to call and complain.

September 13, 2006 6:41 PM  
Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

Your dept chair= dick! Stop treating them like customers, because, as your previous post indicates- retention isn't that high anyway! Good Lord! I've had contact with parents as well (as a TA no less!). What are these kids going to do when they have jobs? Hi, Boss, I'm sorry, but Johnny can't come to work/make that presentation/go on that business trip. He has the Squirts. Thank you, Coddling Mom or Dad.

GAH!

September 13, 2006 8:49 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

I would like to kick Hapless in the teeth. His father, too. I just got back from class and one of the students in there is a total jackass. He lays over his desk, puts his head down and feigns sleep. He "sleeps" through all of our discussions and when he is "awake", he rarely participates. I am dying to kick this idiot out of class. He has now become the class joke and the teacher, being adjunct faculty, has basically had to hold his hand and try to draw him out of his shell.

Gah!

I can only imagine how absolutely frustrated, pissed off and disgusted you are with this stuff.

People like that, and Hapless (and DM and anyone else), shouldn't have their hands held.

I'm telling you, we need to remove the "Do not use while bathing" tags off hairdryers.

*hugs*

September 13, 2006 9:31 PM  
Anonymous sweatpantsmom said...

Wow. A college student who has his father call to complain? That kid's in trouble.

September 13, 2006 11:02 PM  
Blogger happychyck said...

This whole communication stuff is just mind boggling! How can the student not figure out who to contact to find his class or his instructor, but his father can figure out how to reach all kinds of people in charge (and over your head) just to shake things up?

Last year at our middle school a parent bypassed all the logical routes to get information about her child's classroom performance and went straight to the superintendent and complained that the teachers would not communicate with her. We have the 5th largest district in the US. That was a pretty big--not to mention, pointless--snowball when it roll back down the hill where it belonged. So, as you can see, you've just dealt with a parent stuck in middle school mode. Some just never let go.

September 14, 2006 12:14 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

Why is Hapless in college? I'm too frustrated and annoyed for you to begin to comment more. I'm at a loss for words. How. Stupid. Can. They. Be? Teachers should be allowed a certain number of intentional homicides per semester. Let's say 47.

My parents just say "figure it out"and guess what? I learned how to figure it out. Self-sufficiency is a wonderful thing.

September 14, 2006 1:38 AM  
Blogger ❉ pixie ❉ said...

I had two of my students crying during class yesterday for two separate incidents. Yes, they are COLLEGE students. One is probably in her late 40's, the other in her early 20's.

September 14, 2006 7:37 AM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

Ooh, that would drive me insane, too! Hap sounds like a whining idiot. I can't wait to see how he is once he actually makes it the correct classroom!

September 14, 2006 8:03 AM  
Blogger Fraulein N said...

Ass ass ass ass ass. And just who is an ass? Baby Einstein (who, let's face it, is this way because Daddy LETS HIM BE), Mr. Hapless, and Dr. Spineless. Asses, one and all.

Your posts make me laugh even as my mouth drops open in horror. I feel so bad for you. Who ARE these people?!

September 14, 2006 8:25 AM  
Anonymous junkie said...

I just love you! Am sooooo glad to have found you through pimping on Zoot's blog!

September 14, 2006 8:40 AM  
Blogger Shawnee said...

Personal responsibility & accountability - perhaps that should now be taught in elementary school 'cause it sure as hell isn't happening at home. Episodes like this are the reason my huband quit teaching.

September 14, 2006 9:30 AM  
Blogger Bethel said...

I am a "non-traditional" student (this means I'm old) and I am attending the same school as my eighteen year old son. I aproached a certain professor about taking a fun, low credit film class that's centered around my home town's big whoop-ti-do film festival. He did not really listen to what I was saying, glared at me and said then some unkind things. I'm pretty sure he thought I was going to ask him about how my son was doing in his class (not well, and I already knew it) but I wasn't. I wanted to take the darn class. It starts tomorrow, and I still haven't signed up. I'm torn because if I take it, I may well have to put up with his attitude that helicopter parents have obviously caused. If I don't take it, I may well be missing one of the more interesting opportunities of the summer semester. (We don't start here for another two weeks.)

OK... y'know what? In writing this response, I decided I'm just going to have to call the school and sign up.

I'm not even a professor (yet) and helicopter parents are already a pain in my ass.

September 14, 2006 8:02 PM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

LOL! Hap really is Hapless. What a pain in the rumplestiltskins. His dad sounds like a prize, too.

I love that you share these hijinks with us.

September 14, 2006 11:04 PM  

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