Chances are that I’ve posted very few, if any, stories about my time in class as an undergraduate at Monmouth University. Frankly, I saw my college classes as a time to really get into the coursework and become engaged with the material. Yeah, it’s sort of nerdy, but I was so busy with work and running the Fraternity outside of the classroom that I had to get my educational fill where and when I could.
Here is a brief review of one of my more annoying stories which relates to the unnecessary complication of the day…
I was an English major. I loved every bit of being an English major because I love books, reading, new ideas, old ideas, etc. All of the corny crap that an English major likes – you get it. Due to scheduling conflicts, I had to take an English course during the summer to graduate on time. The only course I could fit into was African Women’s Literature. I figured that at the very least, it would be awesome to read new material from a topic area that I never studied before.
Then I walked into the classroom on the first night of class and I knew I was doomed.
I was the only white male in the room. That didn’t bother me, but when I looked at the professor she gave me a look that would have stopped a charging bull right in his tracks. If looks could kill, I wouldn’t be here right now. So I quietly went to the back of the room and endured a summer of writing A-quality papers and receiving D’s on them, being treated like a third class citizen, and generally being disliked by my professor. For example, I was literally told that all of my opinions were wrong because I had no basis for them (the woman actually said this to me in front of everyone). Meanwhile, a female friend of mine in the class would wait a while and say the exact same things (word for word) and she would be praised for them. Talk about a sexist professor…
It’s probably worth mentioning that this woman is an African (actually born and raised in Africa) and that she generally despised everything I did in class (including when I would show up early to review notes). I couldn’t win with this woman because I was a white male. Hey? What can you do, right? Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. With this woman, I had no chance. I was fine with it…because I filed a complaint against her after I graduated (she controlled the internships for the entire department so you didn’t want to piss her off as an undergraduate).
Then I became an Adjunct Professor at the school last fall. She taught a course that ended 10 minutes before my class began. She routinely kept her class in session until about two or three minutes before my scheduled start time. I don’t know why – I didn’t care, but I just wanted to get into my classroom to get set up for my class.
Last night I arrived at campus at 7:05pm for my class, which begins at 7:25pm. Guess who is teaching before my class again? That’s right! At 7:05pm, her class was still in session and since her scheduled end time is 7:15pm, I decided to go take care of some paperwork. At about 7:12pm, I heard a shuffle of students leaving the classroom, but I just wanted to finish reading a quick memo that was in my inbox. After I read the memo, I looked around the corner from where I was standing and I saw my students now sitting in the classroom. As such, I walked over to the classroom and put my pack down on the front desk. This was about 7:14pm.
Turns out the woman was still “packing up.” Let me explain “packing up.” She had logged out of the computer in the front of the room such that the log-in was the only thing on the screen and her bag was packed, zippered, and buckled. She was literally standing there with one hand on her bag and the other hand on her mouse making circle motions around the log-in prompt. CIRCLE MOTIONS! I’ve never seen a scene like that before in all my years in the classroom – like she was daydreaming.
Anyway, I popped open the buckle of my bag and took a sip from my water bottle and she looked at me and said, “Are you teaching a class here now?” To which I replied, “Yes.” So she gave me that same look I got all of those years ago and said, “I still have the classroom.”
Shocked (literally), I turned to the clock in a deliberate motion and said, “For another minute?!” And she said, “Yes.” So I tried to play nice and I said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I’ll go wait outside.” To her credit, she quickly said, “No, no, it’s okay.” She said this in a mean voice, no less. And I replied, “Are you sure? It’s no big thing.” And she replied, “I just feel rushed is all. I don’t like being rushed out of the classroom.”
The woman’s bag was packed. She was logged out of the computer. She was literally making circles with the pointer of the mouse around the log-in prompt. At that point…YOU’RE DONE IN THE CLASSROOM! LEAVE!
Bear in mind that 5 or 6 of my students are now in the classroom watching two Professors have a brief, yet awkward argument. I try to constantly be the good guy in the classroom so I said, “No rush, please take your time. In fact, you can stay – we’d love to have you!” I said that last part in a joking voice trying to break the awkward tension. She only replied, “No, I’m being rushed. No.” Then she glanced at the clock, saw 7:15pm, grabbed her bag and left.
I was literally left standing with my mouth open, shocked at the unprofessional conduct that I just witnessed. As a student, I knew that this woman hated me and all those like me, but I thought as a professional colleague she would at least have the courtesy to make some small talk and send beginning-of-the-semester greetings to a fellow professor. Nope. I was treated like garbage.
For me, that seals the deal. This woman is an atrocious professor both in the classroom and professionally. She should be fired on the spot. Her ratings at RateMyProfessor.com are abysmal (not that they should matter, but they do) and her conduct towards a colleague she did not know was vicious, full of contempt, and confrontational. That is unacceptable.
And worst of all, she did this in front of my students. I then had to explain to my students that she was a rough professor even when I was an undergraduate and apparently that hadn’t changed much over time. The real shame of it is that she made herself look like a fool in front of a few students who will now likely never take her course (I might not have properly captured how awkward and distant she was during our brief conversation, but she came off like a person off of their medication).
Plus, she ruined my night and ruined my day. I had a great day at the office, a great day preparing for class, and a great class after she left. But her arrogance and downright rude demeanor really put a damper on a great day for me. So I’m going to be mad about this for the next few minutes before I go to bed and then wake up tomorrow and ask for a classroom assignment change. I’m not trying to fight this woman who obviously has personal issues – I just want to teach my class and continue to have fun while doing it.
September 11, 2001 Update: I asked for a room change and when the room assigner asked why, I simply mentioned this Professor’s name and she said, “No need to say any more – I know what the problem is.” The room assigner went on to tell me how this Professor causes problems each semester and that the issues regarding this Professor range from arrogance to intimidation to completely off-the-wall antics. The woman also mentioned that there are more complaints filed against this Professor each year than any other teacher at the university. What fun!?
I’m not going to get a room change, though, as the options didn’t fit the needs of my class. I’ll just deal with Professor Arrogance and continue to make a paper trail in case I need to file a complaint at some point. What a shame that people like this are employed as teachers…