As explained in the GTA Handbook section of the OCELOT site, “No faculty member is obligated to force add students to classes.” Do not sign force-add forms yourself. In the case of Technical Writing and Business Writing, all force-add requests for the department are handled by Sandra Ross in the Writing Center, in order to keep course loads balanced and make sure that the available spaces go to students with extenuating circumstances (like graduating seniors).
I frequently receive email requests for force-adds from students. They may share convincing stories or sad circumstances, but I am not in the position to judge whether they should be added to a course I am teaching. I no longer reply to the cirumstances that they share. Instead, everyone gets the same response, which tells them the department procedure.
Here’s the canned response that I set up in Gmail to respond to all students who email me about force-adding the course:
The English Department funnels all force-adds for English 3764 and 3774 through one person to help balance course loads and make sure the process is fair. You can find the procedure for force-adds on the English Department website:
Every term, a handful of students tells me that they have professional obligations that will require them to miss a class meeting. They may be going to job interviews, career fairs, internship interviews, conferences, and so forth. Sometimes they have university documentation (like a letter from an advisor in their majors). Just as often, however, they do not.
To ask them for some documentation on their activities, I developed Trip Report Assignments, which ask students to report on where they went and what they did there.
In the end, I allow the trip report assignments to count for missing class work, and I feel more certain that they actually went on the trips that they tell me about. Naturally there are some limits. I use these trip reports as an exception for specific situations. I wouldn’t allow students to make up a dozen classes with trip reports, but in the situation where a student is going to miss one or two classes for a professional event, they work well.
The English Department has a Google Drive collection of syllabi, assignments, and related materials for the technical writing course (English 3764), which are available to graduate students by invitation.
The collection includes resources on document design, pecha kucha presentations, and ethics. Assignments focus on instructions, job application materials, reports, and team projects.
If you are a graduate student at Virginia Tech who is teaching (or will be teaching) professional writing, use the Contact Form to request access.