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 checkmate all challengers in all the game-playing that goes on regarding the submission of assignments. Here are final statements about turning in papers, showing I’ve seen and snorted at all possible weaselings.

1) Papers must meet the required length. Professors will look skeptically upon short manuscripts. They will resent (consciously or 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 considered in my book to be, at best, D papers. This is because I assign a page length for well-considered reasons, and it is almost certain that short papers are failing to meet crucial criteria of the assignment. Mercy may be given in a rare case, but students are advised not to hold their breath.

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

3) Turn the paper in on time. I’m not for a moment buying the supposedly ironic and implicit statement that classwork is conflicting with class, so therefore you’re not attending class on paper-due day and maybe I can expect the manuscript on the filthy floor of my office when I get back after teaching several dozen 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 my responsibility to check my box or office floor for delinquent papers. Other slimy excuses? Had ’em, heard ’em, wonk:

  • The Family Curse. Relatives are guilty of a characteristic inconsideration when it comes to your scholarly pursuits and like to time their deaths right before paper-due day. Grandparents are particularly Machiavellian in this way. I really think, though,that if Grandpa Teakus were here, he’d want you to turn in your paper and not flunk the class on his account.
  • Deep Junk. I want to, truly I do, but I just cannot believe that anyone is all that close to his or her cousin Bud and has to go to his pancreatic biopsy. I have no “family values”so friends’ weddings are their own stupidities, maybe yours–you decide.
  • Fate. The gods play most amusing tricks. It is your obligation to anticipate anything in your life that could go wrong and 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 and turn in the paper!