Sometimes students don’t distinguish among authority figures on campus. This can cause problems when librarians and other staff members try to be nice and helpful.
Student: What do you think of my paper?
Librarian: I like it. I can tell you worked hard on it. I hope you do well in class.
Professor: You made a D on your paper.
Student: But the librarian liked it. She said I deserved a good grade.
We have been asked to write notes when students can’t get a paper to print, to reassure them that they’ll be able to take a test late if the computers go down, or tell them what grade they’ll get on a paper.
In fact, I’ve had to tell my staff that they are to be cautious in such matters, always saying that their instructors are the first and final decision makers on anything that has to do with their classrooms.
We only hear one side of stories. We haven’t seen the syllabus. We haven’t heard the actual instructions for an assignment. A beautifully written personal essay won’t mean much if the assignment was to write an analysis of a research article.
So we have to draw a firm line in the sand on this: We will help in any way we can. But we won’t predict what will happen in the classroom.
Nor should we.