May 6, 2021

From Gerald R. Lucas

Email of the Semester covid-19: day 409 | US: GA | info | act

If it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny. OK, it is a bit funny.


Email has been one of the factors that made this semester so difficult. I always have a couple of students each semester that email constantly in need of reassurance, I guess. Often, they do not ask a question and I need to infer what they want.


Many students treat email like texts: they send one email at the beginning of the semester and just recycle it over and over, sending it whenever something occurs to them—sometimes in a string only separated by minutes or even seconds. Like I said: texts. This has been a recurring practice for a couple of semesters now.

I have also noticed another trend that also might be the result of a sort of text-mentality. They never ask for anything, but just assume I will do what they need or passive-aggressively demand. For example:


The only thing missing here is the "Hey" greeting. I don’t mind the business tone, but the run-on sentence, lack of ending punctuation, and the arrogant assumption that my compliance is fait accompli. Along with this rhetoric, there’s a noticeable absence of gratitude when I do help.


“I’s”? You mean “my”? Yeah, let me get right on that. You want me to grade it before I grade it? At least I got a thanks. Here’s a similar one:


And another:


So, I should go grade those now that you decided to do them? To be fair, I probably posted something like “please email me links to any work you have completed after the due date,” but that does not mean you should just assume that I’ll take your late work with no explanation or request.

There’s also a reluctance to take any sort of responsibility for wrongdoing or issue any sort of apology. I allow student sot make 15-minute Zoom meetings with me through Calendly. This works pretty well, and most students do not abuse it. However, I always have some that just don’t show. While waiting, I often will send them an email telling them I’m waiting. Here’s a reply I received this semester:


Then they often have the audacity to schedule another at the same time they should be meeting with me.

This is not indicative of all email I receive. Yet, correspondence like this seems to grow each semester. And they send these emails to an English Professor—sometimes in an upper-level writing course. Rhetorical situation? Irony? What?

The saddest part of all this is that they expect a reply. I so much want to reply in the same way, but Karen-like they would take that to the president. They expect me to be kind, compassionate, and respectful when they’re exempt. I wonder if this is how they talk to their parents? If I tried that with my father, I would have received a stern talking-to. I still would.

OK, I feel a bit better now.