Lack of trust fuels disrespectful behavior

Respect and trust are key elements of any successful relationship, whether it is between girlfriends and boyfriends, parents and children or, in our most relatable case, professors and students. Tech Provost Dr. Rafael Bras once said that one of the most valuable things one can obtain in life is the guidance of a mentor. However, it seems that the lack of trust in the current state of affairs between Tech faculty and its students makes this desirable mentor-mentee relationship somewhat hard to achieve.
Some of us who have been here for a couple of semesters might simply dismiss this fact by proclaiming that “it’s just the way it is. Teaching was never their priority; research is their true passion and main goal.” Whether this is true or not, if we keep thinking in this mindset, the current state of the situation will only continue, if not worsen.
I’m not saying I’m a model student, but I do go to all of my classes, even when they are early. I do all of my homework and projects and some more. Therefore, because I’m putting in all this work, I’m sick of being treated like I’m trying to trick the answers out of my professor when I go to office hours with a genuine question. I’m tired of being accused of cheating on a test when I get a good grade because my professor assumed that I was of the slacker and dishonest type.
Why is it okay for my TA to suspiciously question my motive for leaving class early when I indeed have to get across campus to another class, which is in itself more difficult due to the construction all around?
Why is it okay for me to say, “Hi” to a professor who taught me just the semester before and whom I interacted with on several occasions not have any idea of who I am?
Why is it okay that I had to provide an excuse to my professor when accused of missing class and tests, something I have never done either of, before he realized that he mistook me for someone else?
Why is it okay that this happens more often than it should?
I understand that most of the suspicion comes from the professors’ attempts to catch cheating and to prevent unfair advantages in the class. However, doing so by taking away the very fundamentals of trust and respect between them and the students is achieving the opposite. It is almost comparable to the strengthening of protection and security by taking away personal rights. What is the point when you are destroying the very idea you are protecting? There is a difference between being fair and over-paranoid.
I understand that respect must be earned and not demanded, but how is it when the rest of the world starts at a neutral zone, we students begin in the negatives? I feel like most of the time I’m too busy trying to prove to my professor/TA that I’m not a bad person and therefore not focusing on the learning itself.
Of course, not all the blame is on the professors and faculty. On the flipside of the coin, we students aren’t all saints when it comes to reserving our judgment. It might be hard to see that sometime, because we are so accustomed to seeing ourselves as the victims, we never consider how disrespectful some of us are sometimes.
Just the other day, when I was teaching my recitation, three random guys, none of who are in my section or class, just came in and sat down. They were loud and obnoxious and interrupted the entire planned lecture. Have some of our peers stooped so low to the point of randomly barging into a classroom and ridiculing the process of learning itself? Should we not be much more mature at this point in our lives? Those people, making us seem like irresponsible and untrustworthy fools, are the exact reasons why professors and TAs make certain assumptions about us.
We, as students, act the same way when we make assumption about and question the ability of a graduate student or elective faculty to teach their own subject. We exhibit disrespect when we demand respect without making the effort to earn it.
Nothing mentioned above is meant to point blame on anyone. Well, maybe the three interrupters, you know who you are. The points made here obviously do not apply to every single case and every single classroom as well. There are professors and TAs who truly care about their students. Respect is a two way street, and both sides just need to show a bit more enthusiasm and effort. Hopefully one day the relationship between a professor and a student will not have to spur from a mutually suspiciously dark place.


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