Policing professors need to understand students’ pressures

By Bekah Frank, Administrative Assistant

When in class, I believe I should have the right to work on other class assignments or catch up on reading if need be, but some professors try to police their classroom as if it were a high school class.

Let me begin by saying I completely respect my professors, the time that they take to share their knowledge and the mutual understanding that I will not disrupt their class. However, many professors, in my opinion, go way too far when exercising their classroom authority.

My biggest complaint with this is when professors get mad, or even try to kick you out of class, because you are working on something for another class. I have had professors tell me I could not have my computer open while I was in class.

I am the one paying for that class, and if I need to study for something else, that is my choice. If I fail your class because I was not paying attention, that is my own fault and, again, my own choice.

Accounting professor Jack Gambill said he has had students working on other materials in his class.

“I have had students study for an exam that is coming up in the next class period, and I know they are studying. They are listening but they are also trying to [study],” said Gambill. “At least they were courteous to come to listen and try to observe the material.”

Now, I do not always do homework for my Tuesday class during my Monday class, but sometimes life happens and I need the extra time. What professors do not understand is I am good at multitasking and I can read a book and listen to their lecture at the same time so I do not miss anything important.

Junior Aleigha Brandt said she also takes issue with professors who structure the class too strictly.

“I have a problem with when they ask for attendance. I am literally paying your salary by sitting here,” said Brandt. “It’s different when you are in high school, but I am in college, I am an adult and I can be there if I want to.”

Gambill said that he does not require students to attend class. He does not punish students for absences, but rather he tries to reward the students who do show up by offering extra credit or hints on the next exam.

“I don’t take role. If you come to class you are paying for it. If you want to be there it is up to you,” said Gambill.

What do professors expect students to do? I feel as though professors these days do not understand how busy students can be. I am currently taking four classes, doing a four-credit internship, working two jobs and helping my parents on the weekends.

Granted, I usually try to work ahead of the schedule, and anyone who knows me can vouch for that. However, sometimes life happens and I am not able to get my studying done on my own time.

Most professors structure their classes like Gambill does, and they are understanding of how busy students can be. Gambill said the only thing he will not tolerate is students talking during the lecture, or cheating.

On the other hand, there are also professors who can be a little egocentric and want my full undivided attention when in their class.

Junior Merissa Clark said that one of her professors told his students that he did not care what they thought or believed.

“The moment we walked in that room he told us, all 50 of us, ‘My opinion is the only one that matters,’” said Clark.

Clark said that this professor was not polite about letting everyone know that his authority and his opinion would not be questioned. He let his students know that he had tenure and could not be fired, so if they had a problem with him, there was nothing they could do.

“It was more of a ‘I am going to push my opinion on people, and I can get away with it.’ The worst part of it was … he didn’t believe in God, he didn’t believe in religion,” said Clark. “He said out loud: ‘Anyone who has a religion shows a lack of intelligence.’ He wasn’t even teaching anymore.”

Clark said one student, who was a Christian, stood up and told him he can’t say that stuff. The student made it clear that he respects the professor and his position, but he did not respect what the professor was saying.

The professor told him he wasn’t going to pass the class, according to Clark, and sure enough, the professor failed that student.

It is this overextension of authority that bothers me. Brandt said she shares my opinion when it comes to professors being unreasonably strict in the classroom.

Brandt said her roommate had a professor that required attendance, but did not like it when students showed up sick and were coughing during class.

“[My roommate] gets sick a lot, and she was trying to suppress her cough, but there was a kid next to her that was coughing and the professor kicked him out of class,” said Brandt.

I have had mostly good experiences with the professors here. Many of them understand the time constraints that students have, and I appreciate that. For the professors who take their authority and run with it, I just ask that you try to remember how difficult it was when you were a student and cut us some slack.