A seminar tutor and their class have been trapped in a state of silent and socially painful limbo while the tutor waits for someone in the class to answer a question.
The class was due to end several hours ago but has remained in silence while the question is unanswered. The group due to use the room next had begun to politely queue at the door, though loud tuts and muted cries of “Really, now” can now be heard from the area.
Inside the room, several students have shuffled their chairs, while one or two are reported to have coughed and taken long drinks of water. More than one can no longer remember what the question actually was.
“The question was originally met with semi-enthusiastic nodding, pensive looks of intrigue and some scribbling.”
While the question was originally met with semi-enthusiastic nodding, pensive looks of intrigue and some scribbling from students, several moments passed with no-one volunteering an answer.
However, rather than simply moving on to another question – or answering the question themself, with a lengthy explanation taking up a considerable chunk of the seminar – the tutor decided to wait for someone to volunteer an answer.
When no-one was forthcoming for several minutes, unease and concern began to grow. One student contacted Impact through social media.
“Some of the students may be beginning to develop Stockholm syndrome.”
“It’s awful,” they said. “They keep looking around, making eye contact, doing that open gesture with their hands. You know, both hands pointed out to the side, inviting comment,” they said of the tutor. “I think a couple of us actually kind of know what to say, it’s just now that it’s been silent for a while we don’t want to be the one to speak. I guess I just thought someone else would say something.”
It’s not clear how much longer the situation will take to fully unfold, or what the seminar tutor’s demands are for the safe return of the students.
Investigatory reports have suggested that the majority of students in attendance have not done the preparatory reading for this week’s seminar, and it has been suggested by members of a similar seminar previously in the week that the question may have revolved around this reading.
“Members of both the staff and student community have urged you to offer any help you can.”
Concerns are growing that some of the students may be beginning to develop Stockholm syndrome, a condition where victims of a hostage or kidnapping situation start to feel trust for or alignment with their captor’s beliefs. It is rumoured that one student (a usually frequent contributor to the seminar) is thinking of cracking and giving a response, though other students in the room are rallying against this as a sign of weakness on their behalf.
It is thought that the tutor in question has already missed two other seminars they are supposed to have been leading, but that they are so overworked and demoralised by poor working conditions at the university that they have booked the rest of the day off as holiday.
If you are in the area and think you may be able to break the stalemate, members of both the staff and student community have urged you to offer any help you can. “Please,” said one member of staff, “please just fucking say anything in your seminars, anything at all. Just give us something to work with. We’re educators. We don’t need much. But please give us something to work with.”
Photo courtesy of Jack Taylor.