Monday, August 6, 2007

Lost Boys

Two students emailed me today telling me that they tried to come to my office hours, but another professor's name was on the door and there was no one in the office. After double-checking that I had put the correct office number and building on my syllabus, and the correct times for office hours, I knew they had both gone to the wrong office.

My building has a corridor connecting to another one on campus, so I figure the students must have gone to the office number I gave them, but in the adjacent building. I felt a little bit bad about the mix-up, and I almost apologized to the students in my replies to their emails. Almost.

Then a second guilty thought: I figured if multiple people got lost and missed office hours, I should hold make-up office hours tomorrow morning. Student X, who had to work during today's office hours, already scheduled an appointment for tomorrow. I could open up the extra help session I'm giving Student X to other students as well.

Then I stopped myself.

No apologies. Did my students who got lost on campus ask directions to my building? Clearly not. Did they consult a campus map before trying to find my office? Clearly not. Did they call my office phone number (printed on the syllabus) to ask for help finding the office? They did not. It's too bad they got lost, but it's not my fault and I shouldn't apologize for it.

And the idea of opening up Student X's time to the directionally challenged? Bad. It's not fair to her. She was responsible enough to schedule an appointment with me when she knew she would miss office hours, and she doesn't deserve to have other students monopolize her extra help session. I'll bet she shows up in the right place at the right time tomorrow.

I'm not unreasonable. The lost boys are free to email me and ask for help outside of office hours--as is clearly explained on my syllabus, and as I said in the first lecture. But so far, I've only received mildly accusatory emails--"we went to your office hours, and you weren't there." To which I replied, with no apologies, "you were in the wrong place."

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