should I tell someone who is going to get penalized
October 23, 2012 9:40 PM   Subscribe

If you know someone is going to be penalized for something they rightly deserve, but you are friends/business partners with them, should you let them know?

In one of my courses, we're doing this massive 10-person group project. The professor gives us time to do in-class meetings, and he notes that 30% of our grade in this project is reviewed by our group mates. If someone doesn't show up for a majority of the meetings, and the group mates come together to impeach them, then they will lose all 30%.

Today, 4 group meetings in, project is due tomorrow, this guy that I know shows up claiming to be in our group. He tells us that he was really sick so he couldn't come, but I know him. We are sort of business partners because we've worked together once before on a project. I should add that I would like to work with him in the future.

I am certainly not going to tattle on him, but when we left the group meeting, a few other people mentioned to me that they heard stories about him going on vacation (which is true) and that he wasn't sick at all (which I know cause I worked with him during the same time period). They want to push to get him penalized.

And normally, I would agree. Except I think he is going to blame it on me because I'm the only one who knows him in the group. So what should I do? Should I just tell him what the groupmates are going to do? I don't want to call them out on it either, but like I said, we do business together and I don't want any animosity between us.
posted by cyml to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think you need to consider if this is someone with whom you want to "do business" with, and make your decision based on that.
posted by HuronBob at 9:49 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

It doesn't matter whether he was sick or not. He didn't do any of the work and shouldn't get any credit for it. If he were legitimately sick, he can go to the instructor and ask for a makeup opportunity.

This is a really gutsy, desperate move, and it should be obvious to him that it won't work even without your help snuffing it out. There doesn't seem to be any reason for the group members to impeach him in secret. You should tell the other group members that they should let him know he's not getting any credit for the work he didn't do.
posted by grouse at 9:51 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wait, you want to give this guy credit for work he didn't do ... and you're concerned he'll "blame you" because you know him? The project is due tomorrow. He didn't do the work. It doesn't even matter if he was sick or on vacation (although you say you know he was on vacation, so he lied to you), what matters is that this guy showed up after all the work was done and wants to benefit from the work that other people did.

No you shouldn't tell him what the groupmates are going to do. It shouldn't come as a surprise to him at all. He knows he didn't do the work. You should agree with the groupmates that this guy has no business lying and cheating to get a grade he didn't earn. You should consider this group of students as the kind of people you want to work with on future projects because they collaborate, do what needs to be done, and respond with integrity when someone tries to cheat. I am confused as to why "tattle" is one of your tags. Tattle?!
posted by headnsouth at 10:08 PM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You're flagrantly biased. It happens. Recuse yourself from the penalty discussion by stating your connection to the guy and saying you'd be inclined to go easy on him because you know him, but you will not stand in the way of others calling it how they see it. Let the dice fall where they may, and afterward--only afterward--let him know, "Hey, some of our group members went to the prof about your participation. I let them know I'd prefer they didn't, but I couldn't stand in their way. I hope that turned out alright, and I'd be glad to keep working with you on other projects."
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:09 PM on October 23, 2012 [12 favorites]

Response by poster: I know it sounds ridiculous and normally I would be totally supportive of the group mates, but he's important to my business. It's a small community and he's far more established in it than I am, which means I require his connections and his resources to succeed in the field.

I like Monsieur Caution's answer though so thanks for that!
posted by cyml at 10:22 PM on October 23, 2012

So basically you're willing to screw a bunch of other people over by insisting this slacker get support he doesn't deserve because you benefit in the long run by keeping him happy?

Dude, check your work ethic STAT. Is this guy really so important that you have to put other people in a bad position so you can maintain a good relationship with him? Even though he's a dick? Has it occurred to you that your business dealings with him are either exempt from nor immune to HIS shitty work ethic? This is not the right way to get ahead in life. Don't you think the other people in your group will keep this in mind about you in the future too? This whole thing sounds so short-sighted and selfish.

Not on, man. Not on.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:21 PM on October 23, 2012 [16 favorites]

Someone who's asking you to lie to the professor, so that they can get credit for work they didn't do, because they were away on vacation - this person sounds like a good business contact to you?

Even though you're at school and not at work, this person is demonstrating their ethics - do you really expect that this person will take advantage of you now, but not when you're working on something else?

They are acting in a really entitled way, and not even being particularly sneaky about it. This is not a recipe for a successful work partnership.
posted by dubold at 1:31 AM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

This guy didn't show up for ANY previous meetings, and every single person who HAS shown up knows he Was. Not. There. It's simple: after multiple meetings, this stranger wanders in and claims to be 'part of the group' and wants to get credit for work the group has done.... if this was a group of 60 or 70 people it might've been less noticible, but with a small group like yours? It's obvious, and there's no way he can insist on some version of "But I really was here, you just didn't see me sitting in the back!"

It doesn't matter WHY he wasn't there, if he really was sick or gone on vacation or just feels he's a special snowflake who can make other people do his work: He was not there, he didn't participate in the group, he didn't do any of the work, and he shouldn't earn any credit for stealing other people's efforts.

I think you need to just mind your own business: do NOT go to this guy, either before or after the group makes a decision about him. Yes, perhaps you could recuse yourself from making that decision, but that's all. I don't see how he could 'blame' you, since surely it's clear to him that every single person there KNOWS he has not participated in the project, and he knows damn well he's trying to scam the system.

(Oh --- and if you were to lie to the professor for him? That'd just endanger YOUR grade.)
posted by easily confused at 3:49 AM on October 24, 2012

Help him grow, instead. Actions have consequences. It's more important that he learn that than you stay safe, if you want to be a member in good standing of a civil society.
posted by FauxScot at 4:44 AM on October 24, 2012

He's willing to cheat his way through a class and you're considering doing business with him? I'd really think that over if I were you. He may be an okay friend but as a business partner he's a definite risk.

If you're still insistent on keeping a realtionship of some kind with him, you can always decline the opportunity to join the rest of the group in reporting him to your professor. You may get questioned about it anyway as your absence will be obvious. But seriously, see previous paragraph.
posted by tommasz at 5:58 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't think this guy deserves coddling. That said, in the professional world it's not unheard of for people to recuse themselves from participating in disciplinary actions when there is a conflict of interest. Happens all the time. Do tell your groupmates you will not grade your classmate because of said conflict. You also need to tell your friend that you decided to stay neutral out of fairness to everyone. For your own professional integrity, be transparent and Switzerland with all parties. I don't think it's wise in the long run to send your friend the message that you wanted to rally for his grade, but an overall stance of "I'm out" might be the most graceful way to neither condone nor condemn his behavior. If he balks, then please do reconsider your relationship with him.

Life is such that sometimes you have to deal with unsavory people. Work with him if you must, but use this as an opportunity to set some basic limits on what you will and will not do.
posted by space_cookie at 6:07 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here's the thing. Let's pretend for a second he was actually horribly ill for the last 4 group meetings and really, truly couldn't come. Guess what? He still didn't show up and do the work, he still doesn't deserve credit for the work. This is why schools allow people to take Incompletes for a documented illness, because you don't just get a free pass for not doing the work even if you are sick.

But, if it will make you feel better, you can absolutely abstain from voting. He knows he didn't do the work, he knows he didn't show up, if he feels like you are to blame for him not getting the credit I can't imagine working with him in the future is going to be fruitful.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:24 AM on October 24, 2012

He said he was really sick, but you and the rest of the group know he was on vacation. He's probably lying. I'm not for casting people as "evil", but really, you don't want to be bound to someone like that.

Not only is he lying, but he's not very good at it. Whoever his connections are, they will probably be very happy to have an alternative, more intelligent, provider of whatever service it is.

You probably don't really need this guy that much, unless you are so shy that you aren't able to talk to people at all.
posted by amtho at 1:52 PM on October 24, 2012

Keeping one's mouth shut as much as possible is sometimes the only remedy for such situations. Lips together whenever do-able. You won't regret it.
posted by telstar at 5:12 PM on October 24, 2012

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