Professors beg longtime senior to leave
The following story is satire and is not intended to be taken seriously.
UAF is known as a welcome environment for non-traditional students. Those students range from working people juggling busy family schedules to retirees who should be playing shuffleboard in Florida. Then there are exceptions to the rule – those non-traditional students who have been in their program longer than any of its professors. Students like Jeremy Smith. Students that just won’t go away.
Since 1994, Smith has been a journalism student at UAF. He has seen many faces pass by and has seen nearly the whole department turn over in the past 16 years. But he won’t leave, and that is becoming a problem for some of the faculty.
“I just don’t understand why he won’t finish up,” journalism professor Lynne Snifka said. “Every semester I scan all the bright new faces and then once my eyes land on him, my day takes a turn for the worse.”
Smith has many excuses for sticking around so long. Sure, he took a couple of semesters off. Yes, he only takes a few credits each term. And in the time since he started on his journalism degree, his concentration has changed from broadcast to new media (they didn’t have new media way back when).
His fellow students don’t seem to mind his presence.
“That is because they’re normal,” Snifka explained. “They go to school for the normal amount of time, and don’t return. They have no idea how frustrating it is to see the same face every semester for years on end.”
On a plain white piece of paper, in unexceptional black ink, a letter from his own advisor, Snifka, begged Smith not to return. It was sent certified, and signed by all the members of the department.
“It makes us look bad, as professors,” she wrote. She went on to explain that 16 years is a long time for someone to not graduate. It’s not as if he wasn’t passing his classes, but that’s how it appears, she said, and if he is not learning from his professors, then there could be something wrong with their teaching skills.
Smith said the letter surprised him. “I thought we had a really good relationship,” he said. Smith said that for days after receiving the letter he wandered around in a daze, perplexed. He couldn’t sleep. He was constipated. It took him a while, he said, to see the handwriting on the wall.
“I guess I can see where they’re coming from,” he finally admitted.
“Maybe I’ll just change my major,” he said.
A spokesperson for the department said that the professors plan to take administrative action if Smith doesn’t answer their plea. As of press time, Smith said he still plans to finish his journalism degree, and is considering changing his name to stall the administrative process.