The battle of wills between you and your TA — WHO will answer the discussion question?

WHO breaks first, student or TA?

Victor Yin

Written by Jennifer Low, Peak Associate

100 – Student

I’m sitting in class and I’ve made a terrible mistake. The TA’s just asked a question about the readings, the readings which none of us have so much as opened on Canvas. Accidentally, I meet his eyes. They’re gunslinger eyes, as if from the Wild West, his fingers so obviously itching to draw a pistol.

We’re about to be locked in battle.

We’re about to stare uncomfortably into each other’s eyes until somebody starts talking. 

Mom, I’m scared.


96 – TA

Come on! There is, literally, no right or wrong answer. Not everything is a trick question, people! Hey . . . Did one of you just sniff your armpit? Wow . . .

To be honest, I also just skimmed the readings, barely. One of you fools better have an answer, because, guess what, I’m an even bigger fool than you are.


92 – Student

Man, your eyes are piercing into my soul. Can you see the lack of knowledge in my helpless mind? Or . . . can you smell the scent of my illiteracy, instead? Might have to take another secretive self-sniff . . . 

You’re still looking at me. Why are you still looking at me? I literally haven’t talked since preschool. And now it’s 1:30 p.m. and my stomach is growling with nostalgia. 


91 – TA

Whoa. Was that my stomach again? That quinoa salad was not enough to last me all day. Maybe between tutorials, I can make it to Renaissance if I run really fast . . .

Or I could just leisurely go now, since, clearly, my students have the combined observational skills of a dead water buffalo! Did any of you even listen during lecture? I mean, it was super dry, and I also zoned out. But do I look like a dead water buffalo who needs to grub for undergraduate grades? 

Robert C. Brown has the worst lighting . . . My eye is twitching. I wonder if it’s noticeable.


84 – Student

You definitely heard my stomach gurgling that time . . . Stomach, stop drawing attention to yourself, the predator is closing in. 

Like, I do have a granola bar in my bag. But I think it’s bad form if I start eating and don’t answer the question. And I also think this bar spoiled nine semesters ago. 

He just winked at me, and I don’t know how to explain that I don’t love him, I’m just a socially awkward farm animal. 


80 – TA

At this point, I’ll take anything! I planned for us to spend 10 minutes on this discussion point! Someone speak! Anyone?!


69 – Student

Just move on already. Hunt me. Devour me and my sad, deer-in-the-headlights eyes, or give up. 



00 – TA

“I guess no one did the readings,” he says with a chuckle. He laughs awkwardly, merrily, like Santa Claus. “Let’s move on to student presentations. Thank goodness for those.”