Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lawsuits, Professors, and Anal Glands

A friend posted a story the other day about a young woman suing her university because, she claims, she was graded unfairly in a concerted attempt to thwart her graduate degree aspirations.  In other words, she felt the professors in her graduate program didn't want her to have the degree, and so they downgraded her work and performance in order to prevent her from achieving that degree. And, in fact, they succeeded--she did not receive that degree, but another, different graduate degree which translates to lower pay and doesn't allow her to pursue the career she had desired.

My friend posted that this is why she left teaching--because students these days are whiny and entitled and don't want to do the work required for the better grades.  And I absolutely admit that does seem to be a problem in many undergraduate programs these days.  The kids are just unprepared for college, unprepared for the work required.

However, there's no way for us, the readers of a news blurb, to know if that's the case here.  The fact that the woman had completed her undergraduate work with sufficiently respectable grades to be accepted into a graduate program tells me she's not likely a whiny slacker.

When I was going to college, I had a professor who solidly disliked me.  In fact, I'd go so far as to call him disrespectful, disdainful, and almost aggressively unpleasant.  He had been only dismissive until things went south in the classroom in a big way.  You see, he came into the full classroom and declared that, because we were thieves, we could no longer be trusted to work in the lab alone, so we would now have to make appointments for lab use so he could arrange to have us "babysat" in order to prevent us from stealing anymore.  Thirty students, and he's just painted every last one of us thieves.  When asked what was missing, he said that two Skinner boxes had gone missing and, since we were the only class using the Skinner boxes, it had to be us.  No, he wasn't a very logical guy, considering that the lab was never locked and anyone could have walked in.

He was also wrong.  There were no Skinner boxes missing, and I knew it.  Because my roommate and I had been the ones to move the boxes.  See, they'd been on a table with a non-functioning electrical outlet, so we'd moved them to a table with a usable outlet so we could actually USE the boxes.

Roommate and I looked at each other and KNEW what was going on.  I asked if I could speak to him in private, but he shut me down, told me there was no way I could defend this thievery, and, unless someone came forward with the name of the culprit, he would see to it that ALL our grades suffered, with notations on ALL our records that we were thieves.  No kidding.  Yes, college.  I'd had enough.  I stood up, said, "Pardon me, Dr. M?  Mind if we just go over to the lab and take a look?"

We did.  As a class.  I walked around the room, counting the Skinner boxes.  When I got to TWELVE, I whirled around and said, "Gee, I count 12.  Are you using that fancy NEW MATH?"

He spluttered.  He stammered.  He actually suggested that someone had run in (between the time class started and that moment), returning the boxes.  I spoke over him, explained that the boxes had been moved because of the non-functioning outlet at their table.  And then I blew any shot at forgiveness.

I demanded an apology.  An apology for the whole class.

Dr. M never, ever forgave me.  Like I said, he didn't like me to start with, but now?  Now it was personal.

Margaret was in that class.  She scored lower than I did on every exam, every quiz, every assignment, and even the huge, astoundingly rough final project.  She earned a C-, based upon her individual scores.  I pulled all A grades except for an A- on the big final project.  My grade?


Now Meg called Dr. M, cried about her grade, which she feared would affect her Student Aid awards (she wasn't the only student to do that).  So he bucked her up to a B.


In other words, I outscored her on every test, every assignment, but her ultimate grade was higher than mine.

When I tried to discuss the grade with Dr. M, he told me that he "graded on a curve, and sometimes things just turn out that way."  I pointed out two cases where he'd bucked up grades based upon students pleading with him, then asked how THAT affected his curve.  His answer?

"A B- is a perfectly respectable grade.  It's not as if you're grad school material."

Except grad school was exactly what I was shooting for, and he knew that.  And so he'd just smeared me with a crap grade in the most important research course in my major.

So maybe the woman with the lawsuit isn't being spoiled, petty, or trying to blame others for her laziness.  Maybe she just had a Dr. M for a professor.

Regardless, I don't think she's got a snowball's chance with this lawsuit.  See, it turns out her father is a faculty member, so her education has been free.  It's very hard to push a thing like this when the service you're suing over has been provided gratis.  I don't think that's fair, but I think that's how things usually go.

I'm reminded of a woman I know.  She had a umbilical hernia (so do I, dang it), and no insurance. The local low-income clinic referred her to a local surgeon, who, along with a local hospital, agreed to perform the surgery for free.  In addition, the doc offered to do a "tummy tuck," since he was going to be in there anyway AND because he said it would help keep the hernia from recurring.  Free tummy tuck, right?

Too bad about the free malpractice, too.  Guy tore her up inside, she wound up having to go back into surgery twice (and requiring transfusions) because she was hemorrhaging dangerously.  And then?

Then came the vicious MRSA.  She was open (with a "wound cage" and drains) for ages.  Just running pus.  This was a huge, open, weeping infection.  She had to go in for wound care, her son had to learn how to care for the wound and change out dressings.  This went on for months.  She nearly died, was left with a huge, twisted, disfiguring scar.  And when she contacted an attorney?

He told her flat out that, because she hadn't paid for the services, there was no way anyone would take her case.

Insult to injury?  The doctor and hospital then slammed her with bills--for the follow-up/MRSA care.  They argued that, while the initial surgery was free, they hadn't agreed to cover any followup care resulting from the return trips to the OR, the MRSA-related readmission to the hospital, or the months-long wound care.

So, right or wrong, I don't think the woman with the lawsuit against her alma mater has much of a chance.  Because people lose sympathy for victims when they're damaged by something they got for free.

Back to Anal glands now (I initially typoed that as "anal glads," which, I'm pretty sure, is something a little different).  See, in all the years I'd had dogs, I'd NEVER had their anal glands expressed.  And they never had a problem.  Charlie didn't have a problem.

Until the groomers expressed his anal glands.

Now?  Now every week or two, Charlie goes nutty, chewing his butt for a minute or two, and then he stinks.  Bad.  For a few minutes.  And then it's over again for a week or two.  It's like, by allowing them to do his glands (they said that, with small dogs, it's a necessity), we opened up a door to anal gland stink.  Had we just told them to leave it alone, I think we would have been fine.  So take some advice from me.  If your dog's never had an anal gland problem, don't let anyone touch those things.  Because they might just GIVE him a problem.  We're going to try adding some pumpkin (canned, not pie filling) to his diet, try to bulk up his already nicely solid stools.  That's supposed to help.

Oh, and putting "Anal Glands" in the title?  Turns out it doesn't do a thing for hits.  Not sure why that one blog entry takes so many hits.  Many of them from Russia.  It's a mystery.

Here's a picture of Charlie.  Even if he does stink sometimes now, he's adorable.


  1. My dogs never had that done and never had a problem.

    I had a college freshman English professor who called me into her office and declare I was illiterate and should not be in college at all because I can't spell. It only was a problem in her never ending run if impromptu in class essays. Needless to say, I dropped her class and took it from a different professor. Got a B.

    So long ago, but it still stings, but I laugh about it. Thank goodness for Spellcheck.

  2. I'd never had it done, either, and lesson learned--no new dog is going to be messed with!

    Sometimes you just get professors who leave you wondering why, exactly, they got into education!