Professors’ pet peeves

Have you nodded off in class after a long night of homework or texted your friend during a lecture? Didn’t think the professors noticed? They did.


Kelly Copeland

Assistant editor

Professor: Ron Mills, professor of art and

                       visual culture

Pet peeve: Students addressing him


 “(I am annoyed by) students I don’t know, who are usually asking for special consideration, who address me as, ‘hey dude’ or ‘yo,’ usually without so much as (capital letters)! I generally decline the request and go to some pains to point out the inappropriateness of addressing anyone other than a peer in that manner, rarely resulting in an apology.”

Professor: Anna Keesey, assistant professor

                 of English

Pet peeve: Students doing other activites

 “If a student does something not pertinent to the class repeatedly, that’s when I notice and become annoyed. We’re all busy and we can’t be perfect. Being late repeatedly, falling asleep repeatedly or eating in class repeatedly—then I feel the student is showing disrespect for (his or her) education, professor and classmates.

The only time I was really floored by the rudeness of a student was when I was teaching a graduate school class and one student, a professional woman in her late 30s, read a paperback novel through the entire first class meeting. There were only 15 students in the class, and I thought, ‘What is she doing? Does she think I can’t see her?’ It seemed incredibly arrogant.

I think I eventually concluded that the student was a few sandwiches short of a picnic in the mental health

Professor: Sonia Ticas, associate professor of

                      modern languages

Pet peeve: Distracted students

 “Just recently I faced a situation in one of my language classes where a student repeatedly was distracted by some kind of object, and consequently failed to participate in oral work with an assigned partner. First, it was an agenda, then a book for another class visibly open, and finally, the straw that broke the camel’s back, a laptop placed between the student and the partner. The computer was on.

Ironically, we were talking about objects one cannot do without, so I joked with the student about it and asked the student to put it aside. Minutes later, it was sitting on the student’s lap with the e-mail program open. At that time, I asked the student to leave class and come talk to me later that day. In our conversation, I said this would be the last warning.

Next time, I would simply ask the student to drop the class. Obviously, this student is bored or thinks there’s nothing else to learn in this class. The student has done good work but now the participation grade is compromised, and this can mean a grade difference in the end. Note that the student is in this class by choice not by our placement.”

Professor: Rob Gardner, assistant professor

                  of sociolology and anthropology

Pet peeve: Nodding off during class

 “One of my pet peeves is when students fall asleep in class. When I was at the University of Colorado, I had a student arrive to a 9 a.m. class and fell swiftly asleep. It was clear from his disheveled appearance and his somewhat green skin tone that he has had a rather, shall we say, celebratory night.

By the end of class, the student had passed out snoring and was clearly not going to wake up anytime soon. As the next class was shuffling in, I decided to leave him there to ensure that when he did wake up, he would be surrounded by a new group of unfamiliar students in an unfamiliar class.

When he did wake, he found himself completely disoriented by his new surroundings and greeted with laughter and applause by the students and professor. Later that day, the student sheepishly came to my office hours and promised apologetically that he learned his lesson.”

Professor: Gwen Leonard, professor of music

Pet peeve: Students who ask if class was



 “My biggest peeve comes when a student, after missing a class, says, ‘Can you tell me if I missed anything important in class today?’ Duh. We spend inordinate time choosing and fashioning important information for our class activities, and we get hit with this statement! I usually invite the student to ask a classmate for important information from the class, thus removing my need to respond to such sensibility.”


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