Thursday, October 11, 2012

Oh no no no no no no no no no no no

God give me strength.

I'm going to have to repeat that every day next semester. I just came from a meeting with my Chair. She wanted to give me a heads-up on a student I will be having.

"She has more ADA accommodations than I have ever seen," my chair said. "And she has had some medical issues, and refuses to walk up staircases or even inclines. She is threatening to sue the university because she had to walk up an incline to get to an office and she says it injured the site of a recent surgery."

Apparently she has not one, but two, lawyers on retainer. And she has the Dean of Students on speed-dial. And she's not afraid to call people up and complain when her "needs" aren't met.

This is not going to go well. I am happy with what I consider reasonable accommodations but some of the things she demands (oral exams with a scribe but then she doesn't show up to take them, because there's in incline to get into the building where they are given, so....I don't know what they do then) go to the point of Making The Professor's Life Miserable. I realize I sound insensitive here, but I had someone last spring who just broke me - I gave all the accommodations he was granted, but then he began to demand extra stuff. And come to my office and whine at me when he didn't get it.

I've been warned I may need to do "totally alternate" labs for her. Okay, fine. She can write short papers for every dang lab she can't do. I'm okay with that. (I'm not okay with other students going "It's hooooooot out. I want to write a paper like she does instead of lab" and I am bracing for that.)

But, I've also been warned that she continually threatens to sue, reminds the person she is speaking to about her lawyers, and then proceeds to button hole the person with tales of her victimhood.

And I HATE the whole victimhood mentality. We all have stuff in our life that constitutes a "bad hand." True, some people have worse hands than others. But I've known people with really very "bad hands" in life who worked hard and managed to get ahead - managed to do quite well, in fact. But the people I've seen who cried "I'm a victim!" invest so much energy into that that it's harder for them to get ahead. Or, they'd rather sit back and let other people serve them.

Which is what I suspect is going on here. I asked the chair, "Speaking frankly, do you think her whole "I'm suing" thing is her hoping she'll get a jackpot out of the university so she won't have to work again?" and she nodded and tapped her nose. (The dean of students remarked to my chair that "I wish she'd just sue and get it over with, and stop coming in and harassing us.")

But this is one of the things that makes me crazy: this person is gumming up the works for everyone. Yet, no one has the balls (and I am not in a position to, I'm just the lowly prof) to tell her: Get out. Leave. Yes, go ahead and sue us, I hope you choke.

This person is wasting everyone's time and everyone's goodwill. When an administrator who is known for her sympathy towards students (the dean of students) is over someone's nonsense and wants them gone, that's just bad.

Well, at least I'm forewarned. So I'll know not to blow up at her. Know to do the smile-and-nod thing I perfected with my "victim" student of last year. Know not to take it personally when she threatens to sue.

But, dear God, it's 1% of the people that give me 90% of the headaches.

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