I'm not happy that one of the last things I had to do this semester was let two students know they were guilty of plagiarizing: not the usual copy-and-paste-from-the-internet thing, but one student used the other student's paper for his own. In fact, he plagiarized his "self" evaluation. I told them they both would fail the class--and I got a very angry, upset, "I won't accept this" e-mail from the young woman. When she left the room, the young man all but confessed his sins: he said, "Professor, don't fail her for the class. Fail me, but she didn't do anything wrong." I couldn't get him to admit that he took work from her paper--although clearly he did--so I was still going to fail them both, but when I got her e-mail, I decided to go ahead and give her the grade for her paper. I told her that her tone was more likely to make me want not to change my mind than to persuade me to change it--but I recognized that she was writing in the heat of the moment and not being very careful about what she said or how she said it. So I gave her credit for the paper, the grade I'd have given it if I hadn't later found out that she'd aided in academic dishonesty--and her grade calculates as a D+. Even if I'd given the young man credit for what he'd borrowed from her, giving him the same grade I gave her, he'd still have failed the class. And she'll still be furious about the D+. I'm fully expecting a shit storm about that. However, if she raises a stink, I'll refer her to the grade grievance policy and we'll follow procedures. She may think my grading is too harsh, but she can't win a grade grievance on that.
Still, just the fact that I'm thinking about this now is sick-making.
On the other hand, reading the self-evaluations (which were really more "now I get to bash the professor a littles"), I can rest assured that I haven't lost my inner bitchitude, that my reputation as ridiculously demanding and harsh remains intact. So that's something.
The other thing to hold on to is that the charming young woman I've been enjoying chats with after class came in after I'd had that unpleasant confrontation with the two cheaters. She gave me a perky hello, and the tone of my response made her say, "Oh, no: are you having a bad day? Can I cheer you up?" I said something that made her feel she had already improved my mood--and then she gave me a little gift. Two actually, wrapped in brown paper and a paper doily, tied with brown twine. I just now opened them: a book mark and a little sign that says, "I work hard so my cat can have a better life." The bookmark I may use. The other goes on the shelf in the office where I have other gifts from students and various other oddments. And I will think of her, and be charmed by the warmth behind the gift.
It's now after 10 p.m.--and yes, I'm still in the office, but I just finished submitting my grades to Banner and my paper grade forms are filled out (Paul will submit them to the office for me tomorrow: thank you Paul). I'm not going to worry about photocopies for the 101s: they're still too tiny to fret about. And I'm going to take lots of copied poems and a few anthologies home with me so I can continue to work on the Poetry class over the break. I'll nickle and dime at the semester prep, when and as I feel the urge.
Right now, I mostly feel the urge to have a stiff drink, or a good cry, or both. But I finished the grading, so I don't have to come back to the office until it's time to start scheduling in January. That feels incredibly bizarre right now, but I expect the relief will sink in slowly, over time. I have to do a little noodling to pack up and make sure I know what the hell I'm looking at when I come back, but then--finally--I can put a period at the end of this semester. I'll probably post to the blog from time to time over the break, but not often--so for the most part, please enjoy reruns until the season resumes in January.
And to all a good night.