How To Deal With Toxic Relationships
The Toxic Classmate
Scientific Name: Toxicus Parasitus
Symptoms: Terrible sense of direction, does not know how to locate National Bookstore, Goodwill Bookstore, or Office Warehouse; when asked to form a group of five, automatically turns to you and says, “We need three more;” idea of taking notes involves your notebook and a photocopying machine; invites you to a study session two days before the quarterly exams…at your house.
Causes: If you have a problem with classmates who act more like parasites than human beings, chances are you are not their first host. They have probably abused the kindness of some other hardworking student and gotten away with it. Since they always manage to get by without doing the work, feeding off your diligence has become habitual. They become lazy and spoiled by your generosity.
Treatment: Keep in mind that by continuing to loan them your notes, placing their names on projects they didn’t work on, lending ballpens and giving paper, you are actually doing more harm than good. You are helping them continue a cycle of neediness and ineptitude. Don’t let yourself be used. Remember that letting them cheat is unfair to you—you’re giving the credit that you’ve earned to someone who doesn’t deserve it.
Set rules and boundaries. It’s okay to borrow notes when they missed class because they were sick, but tell them they simply can’t ask you to do things they’re perfectly capable of doing themselves. Warn them that you will not put their names on papers or projects that they didn’t contribute to, and actually follow through. Give them something specific to work on, like the introduction and scope and limitation of a paper. Encourage them to do the work by appealing to their talents. If they’re artistic, say: “You’re so good at painting, why don’t you design the cover of our project?”
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