By Ernest Wiggins | April 1st, 2008
Last week we highlighted three rude or clueless e-mail messages from students to their professors, and it sparked a lively discussion, in part about whether the messages are funny or just sad.
Since there are hundreds of posts in the ongoing Chronicle forum topic on “‘favorite’ student e-mails,” here are few more, along with suggestions about what they say about technology on campus.
Is Facebook Just Too Casual?
These days many students prefer sending messages through Facebook, rather than through traditional e-mail (as we pointed out a while back). But is a Facebook message too casual for communicating with a faculty member? This professor thinks so:
“A student who didn’t show up for class on Monday morning just Facebooked me to ask where the class was. I am not responding to a Facebook message! Cripes!”
Here’s one from a student who seems to expect professors to serve as personal assistants:
“I didn’t come to class today because i had a soar throat and couldn’t hear. I think it might be strep,” the student wrote.
“Hello, Student X. I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. Did you intend to send this message to someone else? You’re not registered for any of my classes this semester. Oh, and I’m pretty sure that strep doesn’t cause loss of hearing,” the professor replied.
“Ouch! i clicked the wrong address. can you forward that message to dr. DifferentProfessor for me? i can’t open the directory cuase my computer memory sucks and i have another program running. except change the hearing to talking. thanx!”
And Students Seem to Feel Like Customers Who Are Always Right
At least that seems to be the case, judging by the tone of many of the student e-mail messages posted on The Chronicle‘s forums, like this one:
“Dear Dr. Chicklet,
“I want to take your class, but it conflicts with another (REQUIRED!!!) class for my major. I asked the other teacher if she could move her class so I could take yours, but she won’t do it. So could you move yours?
The professor’s response:
“Thank you for your interest in my class. However, in order to change a class on the schedule, I must identify another viable time slot, complete two reams of paperwork, get approval by the Dean, and then present my case to the the course committee. In total, this procedure takes 6 months. Therefore, I’m afraid I won’t be able to accomodate you.
Do e-mail and Facebook encourage students to treat professors too informally, or is this part of a larger change in attitudes about higher education? Or something else? —Jeffrey R. Young