Why when someone above me asks for a meeting without telling me why do I feel scared and guilty? I try to think of what I might have done to offend, but nothing comes to mind. It is a little nagging worry until the meeting happens. Why does this worry keep coming up? Is it just me?
It reminds me of a time when I had a possible plagiarizer in my class at Rice. There were slightly complex issues around the case which I cannot go into here. I wanted to give the student a chance to come forward and explain, so I told the class I was worried about plagiarism, so if anyone felt they might have plagiarized on the last assignment that they should come see me. I also explained again what plagiarism is. The result of this was about seven women came to see me. Each felt they might have plagiarized. None of them had, but I had inadvertently made them feel guilty. It was a chance to go over their work and show them why it was not plagiarism when comparing to the cited sources. The culprit did not come forward so it became a case for Rice’s Honor Council.
I don’t think it does any good to make people feel guilty for no reason. I know meetings get called without a topic when someone wants to ask someone a favor, or for many other reasons. So whenever possible, please give a general idea of the topic of a meeting so people like me don’t stew, even a little. Remember to do this for your students also. Just because someone has nothing to worry about doesn’t mean they won’t worry.