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College Student Considers Reporting Classmate For Not Pulling Her Weight In A Group Project

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It’s pretty safe to say we’ve all had at least one bad group project experience.

The difference is, some of us didn’t want to do the work, while others of us found ourselves doing all the work.

One young woman found herself in a tough spot when she wasn’t sure what to do about the distribution of work tasks in her group, according to the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor no_seas_carepicha wondered if she would be in the wrong for doing something about it.

The Original Poster (OP) reached out to the group and asked: 

“[Would I be the a**hole (WIBTA)] for going to my professor and causing a classmate to fail a project?” 

The OP was struggling with the classmates in her group.

“I (21[Female]) am in my last semester in college and will hopefully graduate this May. I’m a first generation college student and genuinely care about getting good marks.”

“This semester I’m in a class that involves a group project of 4 people analyzing and proposing policy, which is a large portion of our grade.”

“The project proposal is due on Friday and my group is seriously slacking.”

“Normally I’m very understanding because things come up, life is busy and tiring, people have to juggle internships and jobs and school and mental health etc. but this is a huge project and I’m tired of carrying the group.”

The group improved, but the OP was still struggling with one classmate.

“I made a group chat with my group members and assigned them roles because I figured it would be easier to set it apart and get it done. I was fine with taking the bulk of the project as long as I got some help on the other aspects.”

“Two of my group mates really stepped up and went above and beyond on their portions but the last member hasn’t touched it.”

“One group member pointed out that she’s never in lecture so I reached out just to make sure she was doing okay.”

“She thanked me for the concern but just explained that where she lives (class is all online), [social distancing] restrictions have lifted, so she’s been enjoying her time out at clubs, bars, restaurants and will try to get to the project this week.”

“I asked her to have her portion done by yesterday so we can fine tune it before it’s turned in.”

“She didn’t touch it, so I asked her to get it done by today instead. Still nothing.”

“I messaged her this morning about it and she snapped at me telling her to get off her back and that she’ll get it done by tomorrow instead.”

The OP was considering doing something else about the situation.

“I’m not entirely trusting of her that she’ll get it done and even so, that leaves one day to review the proposal and get it fine tuned and finish up the conclusion, which is cutting it close for such a large portion of the grade.”

“Evidently another group had a similar problem, so our professor asked us to speak up if we encounter anything similar so that she can give us individual grades instead of a group grade.”

“I have all the screenshots from our discussions and the editing history on our documents to prove she hasn’t done work and why.”

“WIBTA for sending an email to my professor and having her failed for this portion?”

“Am I overreacting and should I just wait it out for this girl to do the work?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said the classmate should have done the work if she wanted the credit. 

“OP gave her teammate enough rope to hang herself and she did. If any more rope is given, OP is liable to get their legs tangled up and get strung up too.”tylerchu

“NTA. When I was in nursing school (recently graduated), we had a group project where one member didn’t do anything.”

“We tried and tried to get her to do the work. She had the easiest part of the project. We gave her all the info and sources, all she had to do was literally type it into the paper.”

“We had proof that all she did on the project was add her name onto it (shout out to google docs). We showed the Professor and she received a 0 for the grade.”

“We felt bad, but it’s not fair for us to work hard and for her to get the credit for our hard work. She eventually dropped out of school. You did the right thing!”aries1255

“Agreed, NTA.”

“OP, you are not a life jacket, it is not your job to keep her afloat. Let your professor know what’s going on.”tsh87

Others couldn’t believe her reasons for not contributing. 

“NTA. She’s not doing her part because she’s enjoying her time at clubs and bars?”

“If she was undergoing an actual problem and that was the reason she wasn’t doing her part, then understandable.”

“But her getting drunk and partying is putting more load on you and your teammates.”

“Talk to your prof – this kind of thing happens all the time, that’s the thing about group projects. You have to deal with people of all kinds.”

“In this case, report her to the prof. I’ve done this before, the prof would understand and maybe even help you out.”heywhatsupitsme1

“NTA- It would make sense, although it wouldn’t be ideal, if she wasn’t doing the project because of mental health or because she doesn’t have good wifi or something.”

“If she’s just going out and clubbing? That’s her f**kin problem. She’s in college, she should know about consequences already.”iamthegreenestfield

“Absolutely agree. ‘I can’t get my work done because I’m too busy living it up’ is not an excuse. NTA op. Send your professor everything and ask for individual grades. It’s her own fault if she fails.”PaddyCow

A few professors also agreed to the OP letting their fellow professor know. 

“As a prof who used to assign group projects, I always wanted students to let me know if a peer was not fulfilling their responsibilities.”

“I would set up checkpoints for large projects, that way I could intervene earlier to encourage that student to step up.”

“I would then also grade the team separately. Letting them get carried by the group undermines the educational value for all and isn’t practical.”

“Even outside of education, you would go to your manager if a coworker wasn’t submitting information needed for a client project.”TigerJackalope

“My husband is also a prof and explicitly asks students to let him know if a group member is doing no work.”

“He also includes an individual section that everyone does on their own (and generally can gauge how much work a group member will do based on the individual portion).”

“He’s also been known to include part of the grade as group assessment where each member says what percentage of the project was done by each student and give a mark according. (So if 4 students each did 25% then he’ll give them an equal grade, but if one student did 50%, one did 40% and another did 10%, he might do 10/10, 8/10, 1/10).”yellowchaitea

We’ve all had our share of tough group projects, but this must be a headache, especially with having to do everything at a distance.

But the subReddit seems to be in agreement that something needs to be done about the group’s work, and how everyone earns their grades.

McKenzie Lynn Tozan

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.