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Recognizing Semester Affective Disorder (SAD) in Your Professor


It’s your typical 8 a.m. class, and as your professor walks in, you take in his low energy and the faint smell of alcohol wafting off his disheveled blaze. Something is different about him today… perhaps it’s a change in weight, increased irritability, or the fact that he just disabled the smoke alarm and is chain smoking throughout his lecture on The Elephant Man. As you contemplate how this miserable film relates to Electrical Engineering, consider this: these symptoms may be a sign of Semester Affective Disorder (SAD).


SAD is a type of seasonal depression that typically begins at the start of the spring semester and ends by the summer; although symptoms can last as long as forever. Many professors brush this feeling off as “springtime blues” or “realizing the best years are behind them and their mother was right they should have taken that job at General Electric,” but it is our duty as watchful Eagles to recognize the signs and lend our shoulder to cry on (within the physical distance permitted between faculty and students as per the UNT Conduct Handbook).


Common Symptoms Include:

  • Showing more videos in class than normal
  • Not showering like some art teacher you had in Art II
  • Falling asleep in class (their own class)
  • Making excuses to listen to The Scientist by Coldplay


If this sounds like a professor you know, it’s important to seek help, as symptoms may become more severe over time if not properly addressed. Just listen to UNT senior Taylor Moore who believed her class could handle their instructor Dr. Klein’s melancholia on their own: “We got him a heating lamp to sit under, and that seemed to help, but then that asshole Brian asked him a question that is clearly in the syllabus, and next thing we know he’s wailing under his desk like somebody pushed Adele into a fire.”


After losing her own professor to SAD (he didn’t die, but he did leave his job and family) Moore began a support group for UNT’s professors called “Wind Beneath Our Wings,” but for copyright reasons the group is now called “Draft Beneath Our Airfoil.” The Black Sheep recently sat in on one of these meetings.


One shaken instructor was recovering from grading an essay that tragically cited Popsugar as an academic source. Another ill-fated scholar could only stare dejectedly out the window after sitting through a 7 minute persuasive speech entitled “Why People Should Like My Lower Back Tattoo.” Truly. Horrifying. A few students were in attendance as well, sharing stories of loss, and racking up volunteer hours for their LinkedIn page.


“My professor said he was just going out for a pack of cigarettes, but he never came back,” cried freshman Allen Ginsberg, reeking of attachment issues.


Another student recalled her experience with biochemistry teacher Dr. Lori: “I felt like she wasn’t engaged. I got an A in the class, and for my final paper I accidentally turned a flyer left on my windshield for Danny’s Weave Emporium.”


Students, don’t wait until your professor is angrily showing you an entire powerpoint he made about his ex-wife with star fade outs. Know the signs and get help. Or drop the class and get off that crazy train.


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