By Gopika Nair, Chief Copy Editor
Sometimes students catch a cold and have to miss class. Sometimes they don’t hand in assignments because of a spontaneous printer malfunction. And sometimes, students just can’t attend required events because they’re behind bars.
Bonnie Gardner, former professor of theatre at Ohio Wesleyan University, said a student told her he couldn’t attend a performance because he was serving time in jail all weekend.
Though surprising, the excuse was true. The student received a traffic ticket and was required to serve jail time. Since he was an OWU student, the judge let him do his time during the weekends so his grades wouldn’t suffer.
“He was a decent student,” Gardner said. “He was very straight with me and gave me all the details, so I had no reason not to believe him.”
Other outlandish excuses have also proven legitimate. Carol Neuman de Vegvar, a ne arts professor, said a student approached her holding a damp, damaged paper with tooth marks.
“The dog really did eat it,” the student said, sounding sad, according to Neuman de Vegvar.
She said she believed the story because she trusted the student.
Some professors received excuses that were more vivid than needed. John Stone-Mediatore, a lecturer in the department of comparative literature, said one student told him he couldn’t make it to class because he had a bad case of explosive diarrhea.
“I just couldn’t believe that a student was giving me that information,” Stone said. “But on the other hand, assuming that it was honestwhich I don’t always assumeI appreciated the student’s honesty.”
Another student told Stone he had to miss class because he had been arrested for underage drinking in public and had to go to court.
Conversely, Erin Flynn, associate philosophy professor, said he once sent a drunk student home from a morning class. One of the oddest excuses Flynn received involved a student who went home, which was out-of-state, because her dog had died, he said.
“This was like a mixture of ‘my grandmother died’ and ‘my dog ate my homework,’” Flynn said.
Technology seems to be a culprit for many missed classes and assignments.
Joe Musser, professor emeritus of English, said he has not been skeptical of such excuses, given his own problems with technology.
But Elane Denny-Todd, a theatre professor, said most of her students tend to rely on technological-related excuses, such as an inkless printer or crashed computer.
“It’s as if students know that there is a set vocabulary for selling excuses,” she said in an email.
Some students are more creative than others and have provided outrageous excuses to earn a better grade. Bob Gitter, an economics professor, said a student from Libya had received a C plus in one of his classes.
He told Gitter that if he didn’t get a B minus, he would lose his scholarship and get deported to Libya, where the followers of Muammar Gadda , former “Revolutionary Chairman and Brotherly Leader” of Libya, would kill him.
“It was the only time in 40 years at OWU I changed a grade that was not due to a clerical error,” Gitter said.
Students make excuses that are believable, shocking and unoriginal. But after many years teaching, the excuses are often professors’ favorite stories to tell.