Which sin are you? Nine circles of group project hell

Students in the second circle behave like the above couple, despite the fact that they are in the company of fellow group members./ Courtesy of Pixels

Professors love to think that assigning group projects allows students to bond over ideas, work tirelessly together outside class hours and come out in the end as more responsible individuals. But anyone who has ever been in a group project before knows that group work is less of a friendly collaboration and is more akin to forcing complete strangers to awkwardly interact with each other while holding their grades hostage. Some work out well, others do not. Here are the types of people who actively try to make this experience even more frustrating than it needs to be and where they would hypothetically belong in Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell.

  1. Limbo—In the first circle are the students who ignore the text messages of their group members and make scheduling a group meeting an absolute pain by either responding three days late or by not responding at all. Their punishment for putting the group in a perpetual state of stagnation is to miss the phone interview for every internship or job they apply for.
  1. Lust—In the second circle are the young couples who join a three-person group project as a single unit and spend so much time flirting with each other instead of actually working that they make the remaining group member feel like a total third wheel. Their punishment for shamelessly flaunting their love life during class is to never run into their significant other during meal times and have conflicting class schedules for the rest of their college years.
  1. Gluttony—In the third circle are students who always eat a whole bunch of snack food as loudly as they can whenever their group meets and leave before everyone else without cleaning up the mess they made. The punishment for these slovenly miscreants is to suffer the eternal pain of having bits of food stuck in between their teeth that they cannot clean out no matter how much they floss.
  1. Greed—In the fourth circle are the excessive overachievers who are so obsessed with getting a perfect grade on their project that they constantly nag their group members about insignificant, trivial matters and prioritize the group project above all else without any regard to their group members’ own busy schedules. These thoughtless grade-grubbers who suck the fun out of the entire project will learn the hard way that grades don’t mean everything when they graduate with a perfect GPA but still end up unemployed.
  1. Wrath—In the fifth circle are the wrathful and the sullen, which consists of eternally resentful grumblers who always complain loudly about their group members, their group assignment or their professor and yet contribute nothing to actually resolve the issue that they’re moaning about. Their punishment is for their brain to be stuck in a hallucinatory echo chamber of their own loud complaints and never experience peace or quiet ever again.
  1. Heresy—In the sixth circle are the brazen multitaskers who have the gall to work on homework from their other classes during class time that is specifically reserved for group work. The punishment for these academic blasphemers is to misread their assignments for all eternity and become so confused that they either work on the wrong problem sets in their textbook or submit their homework way past their deadline without realizing it.
  1. Violence—In the seventh circle, the sinners are divided into three rings. In the first ring are students who commit violence against their group members by forcefully asserting themselves as the de facto leader of the project, despite no one wanting that. These students tyrannically govern the group so that everything conforms to their personal standards. These overly stubborn bullies who thirst for power and control will find themselves in a never-ending group project together in hell, where they will perpetually claw and scratch each other for dominance. In the second ring are students who commit violence against themselves by acting as dead weight because they don’t care about the project and seem perfectly content with bringing down their fellow group members with them. The punishment for these smug, slothful and self-destructive bastards is for the professor to give failing grades to only them while letting their group members pass with an A+. In the third ring are students who commit violence against nature by making a loud ruckus whenever they’re in the library or a quiet study area thus distracting everyone there, including their own group members. These obnoxious individuals who never shut up are doomed to lose their voice, much to everyone’s relief.
  1. Fraud—In the eighth circle are a wide variety of duplicitous scumbags who weasel their way to a good grade despite not doing any work. These lowlifes include those who pressure the only responsible member of the group into doing all their work for them, those who lie on the peer review about how much work they’ve done, those who only pretend to care about the project and then make up a bunch of lazy excuses when confronted with their unfinished work, and those who never show up to any of the group meetings but then slap their name on the project at the last minute as if they had contributed something significant. All these crooked and deceitful scoundrels will find themselves redoing all their group projects by themselves while the fires of hell cook them alive.
  1. Treachery—The ninth and final circle is reserved for a special type of deplorable scum. In the deepest level of group project hell are students who view their classmates only as competition to destroy and who purposely try to sabotage their group members’ grades in order to “come out on top.” These self-righteous traitors are students who act friendly on the outside but attack their group members in the peer review, ditch their group members the moment a more talented group has an opening and lie to their professors during office hours about how much more work they have accomplished compared to their group members. And just like how Satan gnaws on Judas Iscariot’s frozen body in Dante’s Inferno, the punishment for selfishly backstabbing your group members is to be publicly “chewed out” by your professor in front of the entire class as he chastises you for being such a terrible human being.

So, what is the moral of all this? It’s simple: Don’t be an asshole during group work.

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