Anti group-project empathy

Benjamin just completed his last final for this trimester today and he’s off for the summer. Unfortunately due to the outcome of a group project, the odds are very good that he will be making a B in one of his classes which mars his otherwise straight-A+ record. The amazingly frustrating part is that the issue with the group project was mostly beyond his control.

Benjamin was one of three people on this major class project. Lets call the other people X and Y. Each person was responsible for their own portion of the project. In addition, person X agreed to take the three parts and combine them together such they had consistent formatting. Benjamin was already doing the “gather it all together” work for another class project and X agreed to do it for this one. X would then send the final document to Benjamin who would print it out and have it bound at Kinkos. X got him the document and Benjamin did his part. Apparently X is an idiot and simply copy/pasted the parts into one document and did not do any of the formatting. X also used the words “bull crap” in one of their portions. This is annoying but not terrible and played only a minor role in the ensuing catastrophe.

Person Y, on the other hand, is a poor excuse for a human being. Instead of creating content for their own section of the project, Y plagiarized 6 pages worth of content from the web. When the professor got to the aforementioned 6 pages she stopped reading (never getting to Benjamin’s part of the project) and called the three of them into her office. As with most universities, J&W has a zero-tolerance policy for plagiarism. She could have had all three of them expelled. Instead she reamed them a new one and said that she would only give them, at most, 60% of the possible points and that was being generous.

I’m frustrated — probably more so than Benjamin is at this point. It’s easy to look back and say “Benjamin should have read the entire project before having it printed and bound” to which there is a point and something he himself has said. Given how overworked and stressed he was during the week that the project was due, I’m impressed that he pulled it off at all. He had no bandwidth to assume complete control for this project in addition to the other projects for which he was already doing so. In addition, that’s not how group projects should work. Person Y (and to some degree person X) violated the trust that a group project assumes and as a result all three of them are suffering because of it. I, personally, still hope that person Y is expelled. I have no doubts that in a corporate setting Y would be fired and likely both Benjamin and X would be severely reprimanded if not fired as well. In this case I can see the correlation between academia and industry, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s fair.

So for those following The Denver Monthlies, don’t be surprised if you read about his first B in the next edition.

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I'm a gay geek living in Seattle, WA.

3 thoughts on “Anti group-project empathy”

  1. Suckage

    Sorry about that. I too am anti-group project, but unfortunately they are a fact of life. Ben should be proud of the fact that he did his work and well. Perhaps he can go to the teacher and without asking for a grade change at least ask for a critique on his portion of the project. That way at least the teacher sees that he did do his portion of the work.

    And remember, yeah it sucks now, but it the long run one B won’t hurt him.


  2. Oh no!

    UGH. That’s terrible. I hope Y is expelled as well. That’s inexcusable to put your teammates in harm’s way because you’re lazy and unethical.

    I agree with the sentiment above to ask for a critique of his portion of the project so the professor at least reads B’s work.

    I’m so sorry, B!


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