She asked a couple of minutes before class began if she could leave halfway through class for a doctor’s appointment. I said “No.”* Either you come to class or you don’t, but you can’t be in two places at once, and you can’t ask me to cheerily say “Sure, no problem. My class isn’t that important.” My syllabus says this very clearly—twice. I teach small classes, generally. Students can make up absences, so I’m not penalizing them gradewise for schedule conflicts. But they are adults and this is their decision to make—I don’t need to be involved.

So she left before class.

The only reason I feel slightly bad about this is that I don’t think students really comprehend the difference between personal grudges and standard policies.**

*One time I totally went off on a student who picked up her bag and walked out of class, asking her where and why she was going while the entire class stared at her, only to find later that she needed her bag to take a tampon to the bathroom. I did feel bad about that one. And then I taught her to hide a tampon up her sleeve for discreet transport. Although, come to think of it, I wonder if she faked me out—shouldn’t she have had some notes or books to leave on the desk?

**For instance, they have a tendency to apologize for late papers saying “I just want you to know this doesn’t mean I disrespect you or anything, just because the paper is late.” Who teaches them this?

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