Student-Professor Relations

I don’t respond to any e-mails from classroom students of any kind. Period. I make this policy known at the beginning of every semester, and let students know that if they would like to make an appointment to talk to me, they can call me on the phone.

When I was a student, there was a serious activation energy required to disturb a professor. The idea that students should be able to just text message professors from the basement of the motherfucking fraternity and the professor is supposed to respond is ludicrous. Fuck these little overentitled pissants.

UPDATE: Just to clarify: I used to accept e-mails for the purpose of making an appointment to see me, but half the time the students didn’t even show up. That is why I recently modified my rule to require a phone call to make an appointment to see me.


  1. bumerry says

    I don’t see email as that different than phone calls, except that it is less intrusive because I choose when I read emails, it isn’t a summons like a phone call. Texting me would seriously rile me up though. I recognize that this is sheer prejudice, but there you have it.

    That said, you call the shots for your own relationships. Good boundaries.

  2. says

    I don’t see email as that different than phone calls, except that it is less intrusive because I choose when I read emails, it isn’t a summons like a phone call.

    The point is to increase the activation energy required for a student to attempt to communicate with me, so that it is reserved for things that are truly important.

  3. mousedude says

    So how are these whippersnappers getting your cell number and email anyway?
    You might want to start considering that priviledged information.

  4. says

    I am totally down with this idea. About the only thing I like to use email for with my instructors, is when I am not going to be in class (after I have told them in person or on the phone) so that they have a reminder, or if I want to explain something to them and have either told them I will email them about it or had them ask me to. When it comes to seeing them, I either make an appointment or wander in during office hours – usually the latter, because I figure it is kind of obnoxious to insist they set aside special time just for me.

    The only exception to that being my com instructor, who only has office hours while I am in class. He was kind enough to let me know I can come in during his non-advertised office hours that he uses for grading and the like…

  5. Kolohe says

    I dunno, writing an email takes more work and thought than making a phone call, and as others said above, the email is not ‘an immediate summons’ that a phone call is – where one does have to interrupt a routine to answer.

    This is not being curmudgeonly, just being bizarrely contrary.

  6. Farah Mendlesohn says

    I prefer email, because I’m deaf. I suspect that some of your students may be as well.

    I also prefer not to be interrupted. You are welcome to your preferences but I can’t see that a phone call is more effort than an email.

  7. says

    Interesting. I actually hate answering the phone because it makes me stop what I’m doing. Emails can wait until I’m read to read them.

    Oh, also the call ID drives me nuts. Since students are all using cell phones, I get the strangest call IDs. Never their actual name of course, but perhaps their parent’s name, the name of the company, or just random, out-of-state towns. Far more distracting to me that an email.

  8. fishbane says

    Hell, I only accept smoke signals from my students, and then only when my slaveTA has time to watch for them, because it got all of my dishes done, undies washed, dinner fixed, my cigars rolled, and my martinis mixed.

    If the serfs want to talk to me, they can scratch at the door like my TAs.

  9. Amenhotepstein says

    I don’t accept either email OR telephone communication from my students! My office is in a three story walk-up (old building, scary elevator, long story) and I tell the students who come to see me that if they’re not breathing hard they don’t really need to see me! PLUS, if they don’t have an appointment, I make them walk back down to the basement computer lab to schedule one on my Outlook calendar before I’ll see them.

    And you think you guys are hardasses? Amateurs!

  10. gcallah says

    Can you imagine if anyone in a real business ever took this nitwit’s attitude? They’d be out of business in a week. Fortunately for Comrade, he doesn’t work in a real business, but in a cartel supported by taxpayer money, so he can get away with a ‘Fuck the customers” attitude.

  11. Ass prof says

    Hahaha! Ass prof is code name for an assistant professor. Appropriate, because an ass prof gets “dumped” on by associate and full professors during their pre-tenure stay at a college or university….I like that….”department of ass”. Sweet!

  12. anon says

    So I had this professor as an undergrad for a required intro course to Systems Engineering. He knew me from the computer lab where I gave him hours and hours of help to get his stuff ported over to the new VAX.

    But I was clearly missing something, and I got a C on the first mid-term. So I went to his office hours and he assured me, I’d do better, he knew how smart I was. And that was that.

    Got a C on the next mid-term. Went to his office hours and he said it wouldn’t be a big deal, and nothing more was said.

    I think I barely passed the final, and I know I got either a C or D in the class.

    Hey Prof, both of you, the one from 20 years ago and you ComradePhysioProf, go DIAF.

  13. anon says

    “Hopefully, you changed your major…..”

    I did. Today I work in climatology where I find my systems engineering modeling experience very useful.


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