Make It Stop: “My Classmate Copies All Of My Work And Invades My Personal Space!”

I recently returned to school and I am enrolled in an intensive program. I genuinely enjoy working with the other students, except for this one woman I’ll call Lucy.

I was nice to her on the first day because she seemed lost. However, she seems to have some sort of learning disability or other mental issue because she repeatedly asks the same questions in class and doesn’t pick up on basic social cues. She also copies everything I write (my notes, my homework, everything) and invades my personal space to do so. I have politely told her to not copy off of me, to no avail.

I tried to sit as far away from her as possible, but no matter where I sit, she pulls her chair up and squeezes in next to me. I have pretty much resigned myself to the situation. But today, I nearly lost it. As usual, she was leaning over trying to copy my notes when she sneezed all over me and my papers. I regrettably lost my temper and yelled at her, but she just stared at me blankly and continued to copy my notes as though nothing had happened.

I looked into transferring to a different class just to get away from her, but it was administratively impossible. So I’m stuck. What should I do? How am I supposed to get through this program and actually learn anything when my ability to focus in class is constantly thwarted by this person?

I wanted to punch the computer monitor just reading your email. This sounds horrible. It’s like you have your own personal Drop Dead Fred.

Enlist the help of your teacher as soon as possible. Say that you are unable to concentrate in class due to this student’s inappropriate behavior. See what solution your teacher comes up with. Suggest having an assigned seat for her across the classroom, far away from you.

Also talk to your classmates and ask them for help. Say, “When you see Lucy copy off my paper, can you call her out on it? It’s really impacting my ability to concentrate in class.”

If your teacher and friends doesn’t take the matter seriously and the problem persists, go to the department chair and voice your complaint there. You’re paying a lot of money for this education and you deserve to a supportive learning environment.

I’m sorry this woman is so out of control, but hopefully your class will come together and keep her in check.

I love to go out and have drinks -0 with friends. I just started a new job and my new boss wants me to join her for drinks ALL THE TIME.  She always pays so I feel some sort of obligation and she calls me lame if I don’t grab a drink with her. Make it stop, Anna!

Whoa, is your boss David Brent from the UK’s version of “The Office”? Because this sounds like some shit he’d pull.

The key with people like this is to give them as little information as possible because they will twist any excuse you give them to working in their favor. Just say you can’t go and leave it at that.

Does your dog need to be walked? Go walk it real quick then meet me at the bar. 

Your boyfriend has the flu and you have to go check on him? Let’s go to Chili’s for some drinks and you can order some soup from him to-go. He’d love that. 

You need to get groceries? There’s a Whole Foods by the bar. Just go there after we have a drink.

See what I mean? If it were me, I’d resist her put downs and completely own the “lame” label.

Boss: “Wanna get smashed at Sombrero Alley after work? My treat.”

Me: “Nah, I’m just gonna head home.”

Boss: “What? Just come out for one little drink. It’ll be fun.”

Me: “No, really. I shouldn’t.”

Boss, rolling her eyes and crossing her arms: “You’re so lame.”

Me: “I know! I’m the human equivalent of Guy Fieri’s pinky ring. Listen, I’d love to come out with you, but I can’t. I’ll tell you what, let’s grab lunch somewhere fun. That’s more my speed.”

Don’t offer excuses, be vague but firm, go along with whatever putdowns she throws at you, and offer plans for something you’re more comfortable doing. Be strong and good luck!

Make It Stop is a weekly column in which Anna Goldfarb — the blogger behind Shmitten Kitten and Shlooby Kitten — tells you what’s up. Want a fresh take on a stinky dilemma? Email [email protected] with the subject “Make It Stop.” She’ll make it all better, or at least make you laugh. Girl Scout’s honor.