So, I am a cancer researcher and a guest professor at an university's school of medicine, teaching my speciality: Imaging. Besides the usual acquisitions of medical images using MRI, CT, etc... Imaging as a lot to do with image processing. Some days I am just a glorified programmer/IT guy. And as anyone who has ever programmed anything will tell you, coding is a very personal activity. With enough experience, you can tell who wrote what just by looking at the lines.
I am also in my late 20's and I am not native to this country and it's my first year has guest professor. So, some students look at me as this inexperienced, gullible, foreign guy.
As part of my module's grading, the students have to submit 2 reports that weight 10% each, of their final grade. These reports are about image processing and they have to code a fair bit.
As usual there are students that make an effort, some do mininal work and then some cheat/copy. As I was grading the reports I notice a small group of students who found reports from previous years online and literally copy+paste those reports, changing only their name. It was a facepalm moment, because those reports were not even good, and had lot of errors. (You see, in order to establish a baseline for my grading, I browsed previous years reports so I knew what to expect from the students of this module.) Naturally I graded them all with 0 and kept working my way through grading the reports I had left.
Meanwhile, the students "casually" asked me in the halls how were the reports. Off course I can't comment on that until I release the grades. One time, this dude, who has copied from another report (98% match on plagiarism checker) , asks me when will I release the grades and comes with this story that he worked really hard on his reports. That his exam hasn't gone so well and he is hoping that the grade on his reports are enough to get a pass.
I mean, submitting another person's work as your own is very wrong, but it was an online submission and impersonal. Right now he was just lying through his teeth and to my FACE. I could feel my blood boiling, but I didn't lost my composure and decide to come up with a plan:
I knew that my exam was the last exam of the semester and that after that the students usually go home or family vacations while they wait for their grades to be posted online. So I graded the exams and input their grades into my excel with their report grades. 4 students had zero due to cheating on their reports and if I graded their reports with 50% of the max grade they would BARELY FAIL the module. But they would fail nonetheless. So, It. Was. On!
(In order to be fair I bumped everyone else's grades, a bunch of people with miserable reports ended up barely passing because of my grade bump. But, eventhough their reports were bad, it was their own work and not copied from anywhere)
You see, students are entitled to make an appointment to review their grades after publishing and before the grades are locked for the year. Basically, they sit with me, we go through their exam and reports and their goal is to convince me to "give" them extra points in hope that they pass the module.
I knew the cheaters would come, after all, they think they fooled me once already, and they still have half the report's points to bargain for. So I just waited for their emails.
Lo and behold, they write me the same day the grades go online, saying how hard they have worked on their reports and that they don't understand how they only got 50%. And that they wanted an appointment. I was ecstatic! Sure, let's review your grades!!
Do you remember that my exam was the last one? Well, they were already on vacations... some very far away... and begged me for an online appointment. No can do... university policy. Moreover you have 3 days to show for you appointment, otherwise the grades are locked, also university policy.
So here they come, cutting their vacations short and catching planes, some spent hours in buses and trains to make it on time.
I know what many of you are thinking: they come, I show them the plagiarism checker results and reveal that I know that is not their work and send them on their way... well, I considered it but I had something better in mind. Those appointments usually take 10 min, I show them their work with my notes on what's wrong/right and they try to find some inconsistencies in my grading and bargain for more points. I ain't giving you the opportunity. Mhuahahah!!
So, one by one they sit with me individually. And I go through their exam and reports...remember that they copied the reports? And copied bad ones, with a lot of errors... I ask questions, lots of them: "why did you do this?" , "what is your reasoning for this?" - they don't know... it's no their work... they mumble random stuff, because they don't know what to answer...
Point by point, mistake by mistake, I explain why it was wrong, how it should be done, lecturing the same material that they had already been lectured on during class... I make it long, I make it boring... I make it painfull... I spent hours with each one of them throughout those 3 days. They always came with the same, "I worked sooooo hard on this"... and a little smirk on their face because they thought that it should be really easy to fool me, the gullible foreign again... as the hours go by and I am walking through the errors one by one I could see their expression change... little by little, their hopes of passing being slowly crushed... and when they realized that I KNEW they cheated and I wasant going to give up any extra points. At this point they tried to cut short their appointment and leave I wouldn't let them. "We need to finish the review of your grades, its university policy"... And I just kept going, extending their misery for one more hour or two... it was legal torture, plain and simple!
IT WAS GLORIOUS!!
At the end, every single one of them left with a "crushed soul" look in their eyes and a FAIL in my class... they knew that I caught them, that I baited them and they fell for it... they ruined their vacation and their family vacations, spent money to travel back and forth, wasted precious summer time, got bored to death and have nothing to show for it. And... next year they will have to repeat the module...WITH ME!!
"I hope you enjoy your summer!! See you next year!!"
this was EU, not US.
It took the matter to my boss, who is their course director and he told me to not report them because the university wants to avoid any kind of legal action at any cost. I couldn't even accuse them of cheating.
Just some things I think I should have said.
Oh and loving the hate in some comments btw, some are just name calling, but other are very classy. Although there are a few that are way to long to read, so I am sorry for that.
Edit2: also, for those worried about my "bumped the grades thing" . I made a judgement call to bump some grades of some student who had a good exam and their report grade was pulling them down. They clearly knew the topics and studied, their report was just not very good. So I decided that given that if it wasn't for the report they would pass, to bump it a bit to allow them to pass. Most of them went from failing at 49% to passing at 50% on their overall final grade
I'm 33, I'm a builder and I own my own business. I'm doing really well in life.
I make decent money, I'm married to an amazing woman with whom I have a 3 year old and expecting another.
My parents are both professors. I was born and raised in the university campus they've worked in for the last 35 years. I have a sister (30F) who also works in academia.
To cut a long story short, I was a stellar student for most of my life, but what truly captured me was building tangible things. I did woodworking, masonry, and even metalwork as a teenager because I loved it. My parents were fully supportive of it, because they thought it was an outlet for my creativity.
I got into the Literature program at the university my parents taught at. Unfortunately, I hated it. It destroyed my love for reading for a time.
I ended up retreating into my "hobbies". Accidentally I found out about certification courses in those hobbies, studied for them and succeeded at them.
To the very vocal displeasure of my parents, I decided to drop out of my Lit course, and apprentice as a mason.
I excelled at that, managed to build a decent career and a good business. Met my wife, had our child. And I'm continuing to do well
Looking back, I'm realising that my parents weren't actually supportive of that pivot. They would often make comments about me not finishing my degree, they would tell me how "funny" it is that two people with PhDs had an adult son who doesn't even have an bachelor's, every single instance of my sister's academic achievements would be relayed to me (sometimes they would even make things up that my sister would tell me about).
There were clearly things that were repressed from their side, Stiff Upper Lip and all that.
Last night, my parents had a party for their friends. Finally enough people were vaccinated that they could hold a proper soirée.
Me and my sister were the only ones there who were less than 50 yrs old. And everyone other than me was either an academic or a barrister or a banker.
I'm really not sure how it started off, but someone made a sarcastic comment about me being the only one who "works with their hands" in the most condescending way possible. That got a lawyer fired up and he decided to say that he feels bad about my kids, because they would never be able to get into the fancy public schools because of what their father does.
That pissed me off. Really pissed me off.
Embarrassingly, I ended up saying that I made more money in June 2021 than they made in the last 3 years.
My mum heard that and went off on me. My sister, who had heard the whole exchange, tried defending me. But to no avail. I had embarrassed my parents by embarrassing their guest.
There were a few other snide comments, one from an annoying lady who said I was being 'gauche'. And my mum decided to agree with her.
My dad called me in the morning, and dictated the phone number for that lawyer, and told me that I need to apologise to him. I refused.
I told him that the only apology needed in this situation is the one from him.
This is the response verbatim, because I will never ever forget it, - "Your achievements are meaningless, it's only money. You were gifted with that brain and decided to squander it all for money. We have to ignore questions about you from our friends. That's how much you embarrassed us. We gave you everything possible, and you wasted it. Grow up.".
I was devastated and called my mum to figure out what was going on. She was even harsher.
She said that when I refused to continue my undergraduate degree, she cried from embarrassment in front of her colleagues. That I should be humiliated that my wife has a Master's while I couldn't last a year in uni. That my sister had to suffer, because her professors thought she would also abandon her degree because she was my sister.
I'm so badly hurt by all of this, that I'm having a hard time telling my wife about it.
I tried talking to my sister about it, but all we could do was blubber through our tears.
I have informed my parents that I won't communicate with them in any capacity whatsoever until they apologise. That also includes any time with my son. They're saying I'm being unreasonable. That I have some gall to embarrass them and their precious social standing and believe that I'm still in the right.
My sister is caught in an awkward spot and trying to mediate, but since she's obviously supportive of me, she's getting some passive-aggression herself.
Am I being too proud here? Am I being too much of an arsehole?
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