A professor holding a grudge against a student

I have heard many friends claim that a professor held a grudge against them and caused them to fail a course. Have any of you guys ever had this experience. Recently I left a book in my History class and my professor was teaching a different class and without thinking I walked in and got my book… well right when I got to the door the professor began yelling at me saying something to the effect of How dare you walk in here while I am teaching next time wait till the end of class, Do you understand me? It does not sound too bad but they guy was yelling very loudly. I can understand him being upset I should have waited but I think he blew it way out of proportion and overreacted. I am kind of scared he will hold a grudge against me for this. Anything like this ever happen to you? Has a professor ever held a grudge over a minor mishap, Did your grade lower? :frowning:

I’m scared

Just apologize to the guy later.

And don’t use the words “drama queen control freak” during the apology no matter how accurate a description it may be.

This is just my two cents, but my gut says that most times a student thinks that a professor has a grudge against him, in reality, the professor simply expects the student to act like a responsible adult, and the student remaining in his foolish teenage ways.

As far as YOUR professor holding a grudge against you, there’s no way to tell. There are indeed jerks in the world. Perhaps you could speak to the professor one-on-one in a few days, perhaps after class, and apologize for barging in and disturbing the other class? Then you’d at least get an idea if the professor is still fuming about it.

Happened to me. I had a professor who simply took a disliking to me (it was a small class…studio art) and did everything he could to make life difficult for me - including recording absences on days I was there (attendance was part of the grade). He even attempted to disregard a doctor’s note for an absence I had after being treated for an injury that caused me to miss class.

I tried talking to him during his office hours, and it turned into him lecturing me about what he decided “I thought” about every subject under the sun and what a bad student I was. I finally had to go to the department chairman to keep this guy from failing me out of spite - my professor was informed that my grades would be scrutinized, especially if they were below “B” level, and that I had the right to request that my final project grade be reviewed by a panel of professors to make sure I was treated fairly. It helped that to that point, I had an “A” average in my art courses.

I finally figured out that he disliked me because I was in ROTC - one morning I had flag honors (I was part of the honor detail that raised the flag in front of the ROTC building that morning) and had no time to change into civilian clothes before class that day, and from that day forward my professor was a prick toward me. Fortunately, the department chairman was a Marine veteran and wasn’t impressed with the professor’s actions…

I wound up with a B.

I’ve seen these gripes many times, from both sides. Never has one appeared substantiated to me. Quite frankly, few lecturers have time to be holding grudges and singling students out for ‘penalty grades’. And it always seems that the complaining students have some other excuse available for equally poor marks from other lecturers. :dubious:

I’ve been teaching college since 1979, and I’ve held anything LIKE a grudge against maybe five students, all of whom had done things like plagiarized and lied about it and told people that I had lied about it and made me spend hours of my time documenting an airtight case against them so my word would be continue to be trusted by my colleagues, or who had fabricated a story about what had transpired in a one-on-one conference, or who had sneaked into my office to read my computer files, etc.

And my holding a grudge consisted of my giving them dirty scowls when we passed in the halls.

Since I’m probably among the MOST vindictive of all the professors in my university, I would say that grudges are extremely rare. Like people said, go into the guy’s office and apologize for disrupting his class (which is what you did.) I would venture the guess that, if he still holds something against you, it will manifest itself to the extent that he doesn’t do you any special favors.

Which he was never obliged to do in the first place, of course.

I’ve never had a professor hold a grudge against me and have never seen it happen to anyone else either. However, I have heard the stories of students claiming a grudge was the reason they failed a class. I’ve often wondered what the other side of the story was.

I’m sure the professor will accept an apology and won’t hold it against you. I think I’d be mad if a student did that too. Good luck!

I have had students that I dislike, some of them severely, because they have acted like irresponsible idiots in my class, they have plagiarized, they have cheated, or they have been immensely disrespectful of my time by continually disrupting the class with off-topic and extremely loud remarks of inappropriate natures.

However, this has never caused me to ‘give’ a student a grade. I do not ‘give’ grades.

Students earn their grades by completion of projects, assignments and tests which are held up to objective standards. Meet all the standards, pass the class. I have only one rule about attending my class: if a student cannot show respect to me and to the rest of the students, that student is not welcome in my class. For example, I threw out a student who blurted out dirty jokes, loudly, on more than one occasion during lecture and would not readmit that student until he made an apology to the entire class for wasting their educational time.

For the record, he earned a B for the term.

Another (ex-)prof checking in.

  1. I never saw the point of holding the grudge. Any student that did Something Bad was just going to keep screwing up. I kept everything exactly to the rules, hence I wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) have to worry about complaints. Such students just seem to automatically remove themselves from the picture, as it were.

  2. pool, you made multiple errors and are in denial of your personal responsibility. Walking into the middle of a lecture is not acceptable behavior in any way shape or form. You made a major social error. You need to atone. The prof was completely justified in strongly pointing out your error.

You need to completely rethink how you take responsibility for the consequences of your actions. The prof did nothing wrong, you did.

In particular, don’t think in terms of “it’s just little old me walking into a lecture.” Think of it from the other end: “This is the 500th student this term and the 5th today interupting a lecture.” It’s not just you, it’s the hundreds of other unthinking selfish individuals that have created a problem. You are not an exception. Look at it from other people’s point of view.

So, go see the prof. Explain that you now realize that the problem was 100% your fault. Apologize. (It will of course be sincere since you know know the errors of your ways.) And most importantly: Promise that you will never ever do that to any prof ever again.

Most professors don’t hold grudges, and if you get your teacher aside before or after your next class and apologize, you’ll probably do just fine. We all do stupid things - I once let a particularly pungent expletive fly in front of one of the toughest teachers in the entire English department and her two children, and I thought she’d hate me forever. When I apologized (profusely), she laughed and said her kids had heard worse without being scarred. You’ll be okay. Just never do it again.

I’ll just add that there are many, many staff in the backscene who are assuring themselves (and in the UK, certain external authorities) that a) the course is to the required standard, b) that any grades awarded are comparable within the insitution and nationwide and c) that genuine student complaints or appeals are kept to a minimum. I know, because that’s my job!

Almost invariably, students that complain about one lecturer have other issues that they choose not to reveal initially. Usually it’s a patten of immature behaviour and, surprise surprise, lack of effort. Very occasionally, there is a potential case and steps are then taken to avoid the two coming into contact (a student/teacher relationship gone wrong is the only one that springs to mind). I would say this is true in far less than 1% of all cases where a ‘grudge’ is raised.

Thanks for the responses guys I am going to suck it up and apologize to him after class tomorrow. I know I should not have just walked in like that while he was lecturing and should have in fact waited till the class was over but at the time I had left a book and thought someone might see it and think “hey a free book”… so maybe I wasn’t thinking clearly. Hopefully he won’t tear my beating heart from my chest and consume it. :stuck_out_tongue:

Based on my experience, UK universities spend WAAAAAAAAAAAY more time insuring that the marks they give are objective and non-biased.

In my master’s program at LSE, each of my exams was read and marked by my instructor, another instructor in the department, one external instructor, and I think there may have been a fourth called in if the marks were too far apart. None of them knew my identity, of course, because my exam books were identified only by a billion-digit number. And, of course, I could have appealed the marks, and gone through some kind of official review… which I think would have involved me getting a barrister, injecting truth serum into the department head, placing the external examiners on the rack, me voluntarily submitting to a proctological exam, and receiving some type of royal assent for the proceedings, which would have to be arbitrated by a lifetime member of the peerage. Or something like that, anyways.

In contrast, my undergraduate grades in the US were given by professors. I think some of them may have been drunk when they made their determiniations. The appeals process broke down into two clear steps: 1) The professor would tell me to go pound sand, and 2) the dean would say I should go talk to the professor.

A little hint from Prof. Podkayne: It’s a better idea to talk to him during office hours. At the start of the year, there will probably be a whole line of students waiting to pester him after class for copies of the syllabus, signatures for drop/add forms, and other random BS, and your apology could end up being just one more irritation.

It will show sincerity and thoughtfulness to take the effort to come to him on his turf, when it’s convenient for him, rather than just to do what’s convenient for you.

Also, there will be fewer witnesses when he tears your beating heart from you chest and consumes it.

Wouldn’t hurt to tell him how much you’re looking forward to his class, how much you enjoyed some specific element of his lecture this week, or some other little bit of sucking up. Bonus points if you actually mean it. :slight_smile: This will reinforce his positive impression of you: not only did this kid have the class to apologize, he also seems really interested in the course.

Who knows? It could be the start of a BEEEAUTIFUL friendship!

ftg has a point here that is valuable.

However, let’s also look at it from the “real world” instead of the “academic” point of view. In presentations, meetings, lectures, performances, what have you the world over, people walk in and out all the time. Is it a disturbance? Yes, yes it is. It’s up to the presenter, chair, lecturer, performers, et al to decide whether to make that relatively minor disturbance into a larger one.

Most adults ignore the disturbance, and their audience follows suit. Yes it is a disturbance, but they choose not to call attention to it and will soon forget it. However, the professor chose to make it a big deal. While pool deserves some of the blame for choosing to cause the disturbance, the prof also deserves some of the blame for calling it out so strongly and wasting his audience’s time.

Hell, I’d have done the same thing to get my book - damn things are expensive. And some people’ll take anything that’s not nailed down.

Professors are important, yes. And the students are paying good money to listen to them and to learn. Disturbances should be minimized. But don’t think that you’re the total idiot here, pool.

I’m sure the bulk of all professors are way too busy holding grudges against particularly hated colleagues to pay much attention to any given student.

Interestingly, I had just the opposite thing happen. During the first week in a very low level aero engineering course, I gave the correct answer in Prof. S’s class. He decided then and there that I was some sort of genius. From then on, when he had a really tough question, he’d give me this look that said “I know that you know this, so I’ll just ask someone else.” Little did he realize that I was lost most of that semester.

Two semesters later, he was covering for another of my profs, and I got the same knowing looks. Almost 30 years later, it still cracks me up…

Or just against the finance department of the Univeristy…

I agree that there are jerks.

When I write a syllabus, I specify exactly what the grading criteria are and what percent of the grade is associated with what activity. I typically hold 10% for participation, though I usually calculate this based on a student’s physical presence rather than actual contributions. Still, this gives me some room to reflect qualitatively both positive and negative contributions to the classroom environment. Everything else is as objective as I can make it. This means that if a student does a bad job, I can show how this is reflected objectively in the grade, knowing that even if the student alleges that I dislike him or her, that only accounts for 10% of the grade (one letter standard) or less. Typically when I’m having an interpersonal issue with a student, I (a) try to resolve the issue directly with the student, often with my teaching assistant present; (b) have the TA or another faculty member grade the student’s work or review my grading; © bring the issue to my faculty so that I can get feedback and team support for my decisions.

This is a lot of work, but it’s quite clear, and then when I get a course evaluation that says I’m a jerk, or a grievance, my supervisor is in a much better position to evaluate the credibility of the claim.

I was the victim of a prof’s grudge. Early in the semester, a multitude of unfortunate events coalesced - sickness, a family death, etc. resulted in me having to miss a good deal of classes. I informed the prof of all of this, and explained that I would still work my hardest to keep up. When I was able to attend the class, I participated with insightful and pertinent comments and questions, only to have the prof loudly scoff and condescendingly dismiss anything I said. Then, he’d turn around and praise a lesser student who literally re-phrased my comment or question just to spite me, often with a knowing smirk in my direction.

When midterms came around, I wrote an incredibly insightful, intensively researched midterm paper. I recieved a failing grade.

In lieu of any substantive remarks or itemized critiques, the prof. simply wrote “maybe if you came to class more, you’d get a better grade on this paper” with a sarcastic smiley face. Luckily, I was able to late-drop the course in the nick of time.

It should be noted that this prof. has a history of being abusive, holding grudges, and being otherwise intolerable.