Dear Professors: We Were Wrong

As the academic year comes to a close, I’d like to take a moment to apologize to our professors. I’d like to apologize, on behalf of all those students who took the time during class to ridicule you, to send you angry e-mails, to complain about you on Facebook and rate you down on ratemyprofessors.com. For every angry student who thought that they deserved a better grade on that essay they did in 20 minutes, I would like to apologize.

For every time you said ‘midterm’ and the class looked at you like the spawn of Satan, I would like to apologize. For all those times you spent countless hours up late grading papers, only to hear your students complain about your well-thought-out criticism, I would like to apologize. And for every time you came to class bright, cheery, full of energy and ready to teach your students something only to find your classroom half asleep and uninterested, I would like to apologize.

I would especially like to apologize to one teacher in particular — Professor Jack Miles. Earlier this quarter, there was a bit of a mishap. I had a paper due, and forgot to e-mail it at midnight — a simple mistake.  You sent me an e-mail, which read, “They were due by midnight last night. Too bad.”
It was an innocent enough mistake. I had forgotten to turn it in, my fault completely. And yet, for some reason, I got angry. Too bad? Who the hell does this guy think he is? Does he think he is better than me, dropping that little line at the end? Too bad, you fail! Full of venom and a glass of Speedway Stout from the pub, I was ready to rock. I spat out the words on a computer in NACS.

I cursed and flamed and ran mad in my response, and as I was poised to click send, my girlfriend, heaven-sent, gently reminded me that it was likely a misunderstanding, and it would be stupid to start a fight with a man who was arguably one of the most brilliant minds on campus.

I rewrote the e-mail — still angry, of course — but with a significantly reduced amount of bile. His response came back, speaking of disasters and he ended class early just because of me. My temper exploded again.

I was ready to tear that shit up. I wondered how many other students had been in my position after getting snubbed by a professor, and never got a chance to strike back. Not me — I printed out my article for distribution and was ready to stand him up. End class early, will you? I’ll just wait till you say it, and walk up to the classroom and teach it my own damn self. I wasn’t about to get talked down to by anyone — I was ready to be victorious.

I walked into class and sat in my seat, shaking with energy. I smiled as the professor walked up to me, and do you know what the first thing he said to me was? “I’m afraid I have to apologize, I completely misread your e-mail. I thought you didn’t write the article at all!”

Have you ever tasted irony? It’s a bit like vomit in the back of your throat, not quite all the way out, but just there lingering bitter and sour.         How many other students had been in my position after thinking they got snubbed by a professor and actually struck back, not realizing that it was all a misunderstanding?

I felt like a child for a moment, sitting there and thinking to myself, “My God, I feel like the biggest pile of shit on the face of the planet right now.”

And I deserved it. I’m just a college student, and I forgot that. Our professors are here to help us and we forget that. They are brilliant — sometimes so brilliant that we can’t understand them.

It’s not their fault everyone is quiet during class — Professor Miles, you’ve probably read more than I’ll know in a lifetime, so sometimes we just can’t see where your head is at. It’s the same with any other professor — we are just college students. I hate to say it, but you might have to come down to our level. So to the professors who honestly try their hardest to be the best teachers they can be but end up getting snubbed by their snotty, immature, angry student body, I am sorry.

But to the math professor who, during the last math class of my engineering career, grabbed my paper and said loudly to the guy in front of me “he was copying you,” then sent me to the front of the class, and then had the gall to tell me with a smile after I had bombed the test from stress that he couldn’t see my eyes through my long hair — seriously, go fuck yourself.