Mid-Term Addendum to My Syllabus for Freshman Composition II

A teacher’s list of banned excuses for not reading the syllabus or being prepared for class.

Dear Students,

dog ate homework syllabusSometimes I long to return to simpler days of student excuses, when dogs allegedly ate your homework. As George Washington said, “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” Now that we’ve reached mid-term, I am growing weary of hearing why you are late, absent, unprepared for class. The following inexcusable excuses are now officially banned for the duration of the semester:

I didn’t read your syllabus.

In fact, this is the first I’m hearing that there even was a syllabus.

I was (very/feverishly/deathly) ill with (Zika/Dengue Fever/Cholera/ alcohol poisoning/an STD too embarrassing to talk about with a professor old enough to be my grandmother).

I ran out of Adderrall, and when the pharmacist told me my prescription couldn’t be renewed, I had a meltdown in CVS. On the way out I consoled myself by buying four pints of Cherry Garcia. When I woke up from my ice cream coma, I was in PJ’s binging reruns of The Office.

I attended a march to legalize marijuana in our state and was too stoned to find our classroom.

My computer was non-responsive and the genius bar was booked all week. And no, it didn’t occur to me that I could borrow a friend’s device or even write with something called a “pen and paper.”

I was debating between chartreuse and neon yellow for the font color of my latest Instagram story, and then I perseverated between a thin or laser pen to create the perfect script. By the time I finished, class was already in mid-session, and I didn’t think it was polite to barge in and interrupt.

I dropped my phone onto the tracks of an oncoming subway car and had to have an emergency Skype session with my shrink to cope with the loss.

I went to Planned Parenthood for birth control pills and had to wrestle pro-life protestors to push my way into the clinic. I’ll scan a copy of the police report to prove I got arrested for disorderly conduct. Don’t we have a 1st Amendment anymore? Or is this a fascist state?

I spent way too much time watching Black Mirror, and now I’m paranoid that my every move is being monitored and I can’t ever touch technology again. For safety reasons I’ve moved to Tristan da Cunha, a volcanic island (pop 297) reachable only by a 7-day boat ride from South Africa—the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world according to Wikipedia.

I don’t have a dog, and I’m so depressed about it, I spent all week applying for a psychological support dog, some kind of adorable furry thing that I plan to bring to class and distract everyone from your syllabus.


The Only Remaining Excuse That Will Now Be Acceptable

I’m eighteen, I thrive on testing authority figures, the neural connections won’t form in my brain until I’m 25, my time management skills suck, I feel remorse and guilt that you’ve inflicted upon me by pointing out that I’m an underachieving sloth in front of the entire class, and I accept responsibility for my lowered grade even though I can’t help acting my age.

Candy Schulman