Some profound questions during exam week

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The Article

I love exam week. It’s the time of year when students start to either a) stress out uncontrollably, or b) pretend to stress out uncontrollably in a plea for special treatment. As you can imagine, I get a lot of stupid questions during exam week from both stressing and pretending-to-be-stressing students.

I always answer these questions, but sometimes I have to delete responses that are too acerbic for the modern student’s sensibilities. I just stumbled across some of my favorite responses buried in a remote corner of my office. While readers will find them humorous, I ask that they also consider the “root cause” of the mindset the letters critique. Think about is as you read the following:

Dear (deleted):

Sorry you missed the review session because you were stuck in traffic in Charlotte. Since you haven’t been in class in nine days, I am surprised that traffic jam didn’t make the national news. It must have been big! At which intersection were you stuck? Where did you sleep for the last nine days? In your car? What did you do for food and water? And, finally, how much extra credit do you deserve for concocting one of the stupidest excuses I’ve ever heard in my life?

Dear (deleted):

I am sorry to hear about both your abortion and your inability to track down the father of your child. But, after a month’s absence, it sure is great to see you again. Yes, of course, I can give you some extra consideration for the trauma you have been through. I usually give extra credit for things like extra work but an abortion seems like just as good a reason. How much extra credit do you want? How much do you feel you need? How about a point on your final average for every week you were pregnant?

Dear (deleted):

It was touching to hear of your tragic loss. I know that having a roommate move out last week without paying rent was simply gut-wrenching and traumatic. It certainly explains why you have missed my class three times in a row. But, could you please explain how it accounts for the other nineteen times you have missed my class-times when you still had a rent-paying roommate? I’m just curious.

Dear (deleted):

Yesterday was your third attempt to get credit for a question you missed on exam two. I know it’s exam week and you need all the points you can get, so I decided to reconsider your appeal. In response to an exam question from our “Evidence,” you stated that evidence of a rape defendant’s prior marriage to two women significantly younger than him was admissible because you “felt it should be.”

On your two previous appeals, I indicated that your feelings were irrelevant, just like the evidence in question. However, I did take the time to read some recent Supreme Court opinions written by Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy. Upon further reflection, just feeling that “it should be admissible” is an acceptable form of legal reasoning. Please add points to your last exam. Add as many points as your feel are appropriate. I want you to stay in touch with your feelings. I care about your feelings. I really mean that.

Dear (deleted):

Of course, I don’t mind that you missed all of last week’s class while I was explaining your out-of-class-assignment. I already explained the assignment three times but I am going to explain it to you again because you’re such a great guy. You come into my class late on a regular basis and argue with me in front of students whenever I tell you not to bring your cell phone to class. I just love your individuality and refusal to conform to the rules of society. You should major in sociology. Now for the assignment:

The class is going downtown to Superior Court to watch a murder trial. I want you to walk in the trial late, with skateboard in hand wearing your “I love the Pope-the Pope Smokes Dope” t-shirt-the one you wear to class at least twice a week. Call me on your cell phone as soon as you get there. Just broadcast everything that is happening in the trial to me via cell phone. If the judge holds you in contempt of court, call me. I’ll come bail you out. It’s my responsibility to bail you out when you do stupid things. That’s why I’m here.

Dear (deleted):

I’m glad you got my note telling you to skip the final exam. Because you got a “50” on the first exam and missed the second exam, it is now mathematically impossible for you to pass this course. Now you are asking me for extra credit. No problem! But we must be able to justify the extra credit if anyone asks us about it. Should we say that you got extra credit because a) you missed only 35 classes this semester? Or because b) you never participated in class during the seven classes you did attend?

Clearly, we have to do something because, as you said, failing my class will keep you from graduating and attending law school in the fall. Once we jump through this little hoop, you will, no doubt, have a brilliant legal career ahead of you.

Dear Colleagues:

Have you ever thought that having so many liberal professors causes students to develop a skewed view of the world? Do you ever think about the consequences of teaching students that there are no absolutes and that there is no free will? Do you see any link between these teachings and their refusal to accept your answers as right and theirs as wrong? Do you see any link between these teachings and their refusal to take any responsibility for their actions?

If our students are irresponsible subjectivists, how can they fulfill their responsibilities in a real world that demands objective answers? And, more importantly, how can nearly all of you continue to push a worldview that causes you so much trouble and that, ultimately, hurts your students?

Someone once told me that an idea that fails repeatedly might just be wrong. Why can’t seemingly educated people abandon such obviously wrong ideas?

That was my final question. I look forward to your answers, just as soon as exam week is over.

Mike Adams - Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel

?2005 Mike S. Adams – Mike Adams, PhD, is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and is a regular columnist for His column appears here at with Mike Adams’ express permission by special arrangement with him. Dr. Adams is available for speaking engagements.

Mike S. Adams
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