Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Labor and Delivery

Advice from the Desk
of Michael Delahoyde


I usually have the energy to meet, match, and checkmateall challengers in all the game-playing that goes on regardingthe submission of assignments. Here are final statements aboutturning in papers, showing I’ve seen and snorted at all possibleweaselings.

1) Papers must meet the required length. Professors willlook skeptically upon short manuscripts. They will resent (consciouslyor not) the presumptuousness of the student who seems to be saying,”I can do this cheap assignment in half the required length!” Assignments not meeting the length requirements are consideredin my book to be, at best, D papers. This is because I assigna page length for well-considered reasons, and it is almost certainthat short papers are failing to meet crucial criteria of theassignment. Mercy may be given in a rare case, but students areadvised not to hold their breath.

2) Staple the paper once in the upper left-hand corner. Folders and those plastic things are cumbersome. Envelopes area holy pain. Students: save up all the money that you waste onthat plastic crap and buy a stapler. Please e-mail and explainto me why I’m invariably asked if I have a stapler (read: on meat the moment before class begins). I’m working on a theory,the crux of which is that these people are idiots. Also, my heartsinks when some yipsha doesn’t have the paper stapled and startswith the damned origami in the corner of the sheets: an elaboratesystem of bends and tears making the manuscript now look likecrap (and not hold together anyway).

3) Turn the paper in on time. I’m not for a moment buyingthe supposedly ironic and implicit statement that classwork isconflicting with class, so therefore you’re not attending classon paper-due day and maybe I can expect the manuscript on thefilthy floor of my office when I get back after teaching severaldozen more honorable people. In other words, truancy is no excuse:i.e., “I couldn’t get my paper in ’cause I cut class.” I’m not Huey Lewis but here’s the news, Chuckles: it is not myresponsibility to check my box or office floor for delinquentpapers. Other slimy excuses? Had ’em, heard ’em, wonk:

  • The Family Curse. Relatives are guilty of a characteristicinconsideration when it comes to your scholarly pursuits and liketo time their deaths right before paper-due day. Grandparentsare particularly Machiavellian in this way. I really think, though,that if Grandpa Teakus were here, he’d want you to turn in yourpaper and not flunk the class on his account.
  • Deep Junk. I want to, truly I do, but I just cannot believethat anyone is all that close to his or her cousin Bud and hasto go to his pancreatic biopsy. I have no “family values”so friends’ weddings are their own stupidities, maybe yours–youdecide.
  • Fate. The gods play most amusing tricks. It is yourobligation to anticipate anything in your life that could go wrongand to take preventive measures or to develop back-up plans. No bitter ironies about roommates and alarm-clocks really entertain.
  • Techno-Bull. Finally, no computer excuses will wash. Dumped by a loved one? Quelle tragedie, no doubt with gory details. Dumped by the computer? Flunkola City, population one.

Hey, wait! I have an idea! Do the assignment andturn in the paper!

Back to the Hospital