Narrative

I had scheduled an after-class meeting with this professor, and my intention was to get a clearer explanation of why I was given a specific mark for previous week’s assignment.
We sat down and I looked for the works in my computer, but all I could find was a big PDF file with a side-by-side display of the two works I presented in class and two other works I was thinking of presenting, but didn’t. I pointed at the bottom two with intentions of saying “I didn’t present these, so don’t mind them,” but before I could, she said she remembered seeing them in class. A lie, but not a huge deal—she saw dozens of works in the class, and she could be teaching another—even though I thought it may be a signal of her getting stressed over me taking some time to find the file in the first place, like getting impatient.
As soon as I pointed out that I hadn’t showed those in class she got visibly uncomfortable. I’m not gonna lie, I can’t remember precisely what happened right after, but I do remember her getting more and more stressed, more and more hurried, and me deciding to state, again and again, that I meant absolutely no disrespect. And I did! My intention was to figure out how she was grading me so I could do better in terms of grades next time. And I did my best to be polite. She got really angry, said “We’re done,” stood up, grabbed her stuff and walked right out of the classroom.
As impressed as I was, I immediately thought about what this meant. How the hell am I supposed to react to this? What’s gonna happen from now on? I was, and am, convinced that if I had brought up how she acted to her or to anybody else in the faculty, she would resent me, and that would just essentially doom my grades. Had I been right about this or not, it was a possibility. How does a student handle that kind of worry when dealing with a situation like this? On one hand, I do think that behavior like this from a professor should be discussed—on the other hand, I didn’t exactly want to reap the consequences of discussing it. I couldn’t do it anonymously because she would know. Of course I could do it now—but my main interest was to solve it during that semester, so her attitude towards me wouldn’t harm my grades. This was impossible unless I literally dropped the class and lost that money, and that credit. Luckily it was an elective… and even if I did it now, or in the near future, I don’t know how that could affect my relationship with other professors.
Issues like this work differently in a place where grades depend on strictly objective performance, where there are defined, universally agreed on rights and wrongs. But at OCAD that is rarely the case (for a good reason), and I can imagine many, many possible scenarios where a student may be in this position of voluntary silence, because they have no tools to deal with issues like these. Yes, people are people, and get angry and frustrated, and have bad days… but there’s no reason why students should be permanently affected. And this works both ways.