Or King Solomon, or anyone who has ever thought that there is a season for compassion and a season for strictness.
A purely hypothetical situation:
A student is clearly having some issues--attendance has gone from perfect most of the semester to spotty, even dreadful since break. When said student does appear, s/he looks dreadful--not poorly kempt, just beaten down.
The problem is, the student has been dishonest--you know, in the fiddling with margins and fonts kind of way that's totally transparent, and the "dog ate my homework/email is broken" sort of way that's harder to prove but no less visible to the naked eye.
The student had tried to schedule an appointment with me today, but we crossed paths--the purported topic of the meeting was a need for a pep talk. In an email, the existence (though not specifics) of tragic events are confessed, the imminence of graduation is referenced, the possibility of a sobfest is forewarned.
What the student doesn't know: the big margin/big font paper failed, and I've found multiple pieces of evidence of the mendacity of the broken email excuse. With the current average, and without a penalty for the mendacious excuse, the student will not successfully pass the class (though it would be close). Because the student did not know this information, I am not reading the earlier email as manipulative.
There's a third exam tomorrow, and big final paper due in three weeks.
Though I know, and can more or less prove that the student has been lying to get a long extension, I think I'm going to grade the work that was (eventually) turned in. But I want a confession, partially because I don't like being lied to, and partially because I don't want the student to believe the ruse worked.
I also believe that the possibility of passing this class relies on getting some extra help from me, which I fear may, in terms of the amount of effort I'm willing to expend, may be partially contingent on the student coming clean.
I fear all sorts of things about this purely hypothetical situation--that I'm being an ass, that I'm being a pushover, that I'm being selfish, that I'm being compassionate, that I'm being vindictive, that I'm being manipulated, that I'm not being even-handed, that I'm being generous. All of these things are available, but few of them align for me in a clear course of action. Especially after the lingering embarrassment of a couple of days ago.