Student attempts to bully me. Attempt fails.

This is a doozy, folks. Never in my fifteen years of teaching college students have I run across one as obnoxious and arrogant as this one. Shit, I wish he were just a plagiarist. They’re easy to deal with and don’t fight me.
“Bully” added during the second week of the semester, in late January. Since then he has shown up late (up to 30 minutes) to every class meeting. At the start of the semester, I make it clear to all students that habitual lateness or unexcused absences will be detrimental to their overall grades. The rest of them accept these consequences. But not Bully. Oh, no. You’ll see.

 March 4:   Bully complained that a "B-" he had received on an essay was unfair and harsh.  I mention this because it seems to be part of a general pattern.  Also, one time I had to tell him to quit eating in class, since he was very noisy and it's not allowed anyway.  

 March 11:    Bully  came 1.5 hours late to class.   Normally I take half a point off for tardiness, but I count excessive tardiness as an absence, as many instructors do.   I take three points off for an (unexcused) absence (because this class meets only once a week, for three hours) and this is clearly stated on the first page of my syllabus.    
    This was the first time he told me that he has religious activities/duties to attend to in a nearby city until 2pm on Fridays and that he cannot get to class on time because of this. 

   Mar. 18:   Bully was late again.  He was very upset to find that he has already lost 5 points (two from the accumulated tardies and three from the excessive lateness mentioned above).  He said this is jeopardizing his transfer and his chances of getting an “A” in the class.  He also said my policy on this is "harsh" and "excessive."  I told him that many instructors have such policies and that some are even more stringent than mine; some count students as absent if they come in 15 minutes late.

  I also said he knew the class started at 2pm when he signed up for it.  He then said he has a legal right to come in late due to his religious duties and that this is "a policy in every school."  I replied that I had never heard of such a policy and that he would need to show it to me.  This made him glower and look at me wtih such contempt that I could literally feel the hostility coming off of him in waves.  He left the classroom in a huff.  
    Apparently he was pissed that I didn’t know about this policy and that I told him to prove it.  He was not yelling, swearing or making threats, but I checked the student conduct handouts from Student Life, and I am sure he is violating my policies as they are stated in my syllabus and is also challenging my authority and expertise.  These are considered disruptive behaviors.   Unfortunately, I had to stay in my classroom until 5pm because a few students were finishing up an essay test, and the campus is almost a ghost town at that hour on Fridays.  I would have called Security if I had felt the need to do so, but there was no one else to contact.

Mar. 21: I wrote up all this stuff so as to document it. Gave copies to my dept. head and spoke with my associate dean since the head dean was out all day. The guy in charge of student discipline was also out but I left him a copy as well. I also spoke on the phone with a liaison in my dept.
Their summary is this: The student is trying to intimidate me; should have taken a class that doesn’t conflict with his religious activities, has no business being chronically late, is bound by my syllabus because it functions as a contract, and there is no such policy as the one he mentioned. There is a policy allowing people to be absent to observe religious holidays, and something in the Ed Code about students’ religious creeds and exams or testing, but that’s got bugger to do with the tardiness issue.

I am damn well not going to have the same argument every week, with Bully challenging my rules and blaming me for not accommodating what he believes is his divine “right” to be tardy.

 I'm not looking forward to Friday, but if Bully starts up his crap with me again, I have been instructed to tell him to go talk to my dean, who will be on campus till five.  If he really gets pissy or threatening, I can tell him to leave that class meeting and not come to the next one (April, after spring break week) as well.  At that point I will phone in a report, write up a student misconduct form, and call security if he won't leave.  I may call them anyway if I want an escort to my car.

I will attempt to keep my cool, but it won’t be easy. I can be extremely sarcastic with ay-holes.

Bottom line: From this jerkoff’s behavior, it’s clear to me that he has been spoiled and indulged his entire life and has probably pulled this bullshit with others in the past and gotten away with it. Now he thinks he’s entitled to any special treatment he wants and it’s killing him that I’ve burst his bubble. Little brats don’t react too well when they can’t have their way.

The pitiful part of it is: he has been writing well enough on his assignments lately that he probably could have gotten an “A” in the course, but he’s losing so many points for tardiness that it’s pulling the whole grade down. Of course, he blames this all on me; I’m the one who’s harsh, unfair, excessive, disrespecting him, not understanding, etc.

I really despise pieces of shit like this who think they’re entitled to the whole universe and won’t take one shred of responsibility for their own actions or lack thereof.

Good for you. One thing I’d do, though, is swing by the security office earlier in the day and give them the heads up so that they’ll know that if you call them in the afternoon, it’s because the bully has refused to leave class. It might make them hustle a little bit to get over to your classroom to kick bully boy out.

I just don’t understand this me-centric behavior. If he wants it to be all about him, he should hire private tutors, not take up the time of all and sundry in his class.

Fuck entitlement. He doesn’t deserve it. Hell, he doesn’t even deserve a reasonable discussion if he can’t be a part of one himself.

Talk to security, see if they can ‘be around’ your room during his expected visit.

Above all else, be careful.

May I ask why you include tardy/attendence in your grade? Not that you don’t have every right to, of course, but I’m just curious as to your reasons. Do you present a lot of material in class that is not found in the course materials?

Good for you, Viva. I get one like that every few years, and they’re very tiresome.

I also mark tardiness. My rationale is that, without a tardiness policy, people take to wandering in (and out) of class, and often ask questions that have already been answered, create a small disruption as they come in and get settled, and so on. Think of it like this: without a tardiness policy, it’s sort of like some people get to show up for a half-hour of class discussion and get the same credit as people who show up for the full hour. Not on my watch, they don’t.

Students are always asking me (in college, mind you) how they can get extra credit. I tell them, You get extra credit if you show up, on time, and participate fully in discussions. “Student X, for example, was here all the time, was never late, and participated: he gets extra credit. You, OTOH, missed five classes, were late to seven others, and do not get extra credit. Oh, you want to earn extra credit NOW, at the end of the term? Gee, that’s too bad.”

Most humanities profs I’ve had have fairly intense attendance policies. A certain number of absences (generally six) unexcused results in an automatic fail more often than not. Math/Science profs don’t seem to do that, at least at the lower level.

Ask him if he’s going to react that way to his boss when he starts showing up late for work.

Before I tell you to go fuck six different kinds of barnyard animals: are you at least teaching English, or Political Science, or some other subject were the teacher’s opinions and commentary are an important part of the class? 'Cause math, science, and engineering professors who grade on attendance have their own circle of hell, and it does involve six different kinds barnyard animals (sort of–3 of them have some human characteristics).

Ouch. He sounds like the long-lost brother of one of my freshman comp students this semester, but at least mine mostly confines himself to writing papers that drip with subtle mockery and ostentatiously falling asleep in class, rather than actual intimidation.

Hope the dean and department head back you up on this.

Whatever happened to just kicking the problems out of class?

Why did you label him a bully again?

Because he “challenged” their “authority and expertise,” I think.

Oh, and about grading on attendance / tardiness: In most of the classes I’ve had, and certainly in every class I’ve ever taught, students spend most of the class period doing stuff. Class discussion, writing workshops, foreign language conversation practice, lab activities, etc. They’re expected to contribute to the class, and they can’t very well do that if they’re not there. Furthermore, chronic absenteeism is doubly unfair to the other students in the class – not only do they have to shoulder more of the work themselves, they don’t get the benefit of the missing student’s ideas or perspective on the course material. Part of the unwritten social compact in a college classroom is that students are there to learn from each other, and one student’s absence (or nonparticipation) throws a wrench into that.

I suppose a “pure” lecture class would be a bit different, but I’ve never yet seen a lecture class that didn’t have some time set aside for questions and discussion, and if Student X isn’t there to ask questions, the rest of the students aren’t able to benefit from hearing the instructor’s answers to those questions.

Color me crazy, but why wouldn’t attendance be a factor in every grade? It shows a modicum of responsibility, and respect.

My guess is that his attendence is not all that great.

Not in a lot of the classes I attended. Fortunately, most of my professors only cared whether or not I learned the material or not. A midterm or two, a final, and one or more projects. Show up; don’t show up; who the fuck cares so long as you demonstrate that you know what you’re supposed to know?

Class time set aside for discussion? SNORT yeah, that’s a real valuable experience when you’re in a lecture with 600 other students, a few of whom actually like what they’re studying and already know the material inside and out, and many of whom think that EECS would be a lifelong meal ticket and don’t have a fucking clue about much of anything. Oh, and guess which group asks all the questions? :rolleyes:

This has got to be an engineering vs. “liberal arts” thing. I simply can’t imagine any of my engineering profs saying that we had to attend lecture because it would benefit our classmates. Benefit our classmates?? You mean the ones who we’re competing with on the department-mandated curve? Fuck 'em. If they can’t cut it, they can go major in English or something. :stuck_out_tongue:

My attendance sucked. There were many classes that I didn’t show up for at all, except for the midterms and finals. I’dve rather gouged my eyes out then listen to some bastard monotonously drone on for a couple hours on material that I could learn in a fraction of the time by reading a book, or working on a project, or that I already knew in more depth then the class was covering.

A history class, where the exams are based on the Professors lectures, which cover a unique and educated perspective drawn from a variety of sources? Hell yeah, I’d attend. Lecture for a math class, given by a captivating professor? Sure, I’ll attend. The lecture for “Introduction to Systems and Signals,” given by a professor who had a picture of himself on his boat with the caption “I’d rather by sailing” prominently displayed on the class website and held in a lecture hall that seats 300? I’ll spend 15 minutes of that hour reading the book, and 45 minutes doing something even more worthwile, like whacking off or sleeping in.

I’ve taught Engineering courses, undergrad and grad.

I never gave attendence marks. And I detested courses that counted it too. But it did bother me, personally, when I was standing on the other side, and people would not show up to my courses. Because I felt like I had a lot of experience that was useful for tying together the engineering lessons I was teaching with my real life experience.

I guess I’m stupid for caring, but it hurt my feelings. That doesn’t change your point; just sayin’.

It really depends. I was pretty diligent about showing up for most of my courses, but there were a few lecturers I really did not like (they clearly had no interest in being there, so I didn’t really see much point in being there myself), and a few courses where my attendance was something like 2 out of 30 lectures. I did just fine in these courses, with a little work before the finals and making sure my assignments were all up to scratch.

I would never consider showing up late for a lecture, as I definately consider that to be distracting to both lecturer and lecturees(?). And if I had done a course where attendance was graded, I would have had no complaints if I was failed or graded down as a result. All about knowing the rules at the beginning and all that.

Do you pay your boss for the privledge of attending work?