University of Southern Indiana

The Dog Ate My Homework

Faculty have heard it all. Everything from pornography and drugs to questionable deaths in the family have been proffered as excuses for not delivering an assignment on time or attending class. We asked current and retired faculty to mine their memories for the richest excuses; here are three of our favorites.

Additionally, Dr. Joseph Palladino, Professor Emeritus in Psychology (1981- 2011), polled his USI peers in 2002 and published a piece on the subject in Eye on Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology's magazine, the most precious appear here.

"In one of my 400-level biology courses, students had to write multiple essays on various topics during the semester. Since the goal was to make an argument, and mechanical issues (bad grammar, poor punctuation, misspelled words, etc.) affect clarity, the grade was always based on the strength of the argument (evidence and logic) and then reduced for excessive mechanical issues. One frustrated student whose most recent essay score was reduced by a full letter grade due to mechanical issues told me that doing so was unfair. When I asked why, he said because I didn’t have the standing—after all, I was not an English prof."

Dr. James Bandoli

Professor Emeritus of Biology


"In an upper-level class, students had a large, semester-long project due as their final assessment. One student failed to turn the project in, stating all files on his computer had become corrupt after his roommate used his laptop to watch a very niche and specific type of pornography. It’s a bit too graphic to share, but did provide for an interesting excuse, real or not."

Dr. Amie McKibban

Associate Professor and Chair of Psychology


"I remember excuses ran in fads. One year it was grandmothers dying and funerals to go to—possibly legitimate—but one student had a lot of grandmothers who died in just one semester. Another year the fad was car accidents and broken-down cars. By the end of that semester, however, I concluded that if there had been that many accidents on the highways to USI, they would be littered with disabled vehicles and assorted car parts and tires."

Marjorie [Jones] Melvin

Instructor Emerita in Anthropology


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