"With all do respect sir, I couldn't disagree more." Uhura retorted not bothering to look up from her padd.
Professor Spock, who was facing the teleboard turned around slowly and eyed the young cadet who clearly found it more than appropriate to speak out of turn.
The classroom was deathly quite as the students gazes darted between their stoic professor, and to the back of the room at the girl sitting by herself.
"I generally request all questions and comments be withheld until the end of class," Spock declared, his voice monotone yet commanding, "However," he glanced about the room as quiet whispers erupted, "Since it seems I have lost the attention of the classroom, and would waste time continuing on with a less than captive audience, we shall address your opinions now." His eyes rested squarely on the young cadet. "By all means, enlighten us."
Uhura finished writing on her padd. Set her stylo down, brushed her long dark ponytail from her shoulder and returned Spocks even gaze.
"Correct me if I am wrong Sir, but did you not just state that in Vulcan society as conflict escalates, typical communication responses become increasingly more strategic and cognitive?"
"Verbatum, yes, that is what I said." Spock replied, unused to hearing his words repeated perfectly back to him, especially by a student. His eye brows crumpled in as he concentrated, attempting to foresee the logical conclusion of this obnoxious student's point, and prepare his counter argument.
"Well Sir. This couldn't possibly be true. By labeling this response as typical, your are blanketing an entire species."
"Ms….?" Spock began,
"Uhura." She replied. Of course he thought to himself. He had heard her name on the lips of the other professors in this department many a time.
"Ms Uhura, I had every intention of blanketing the Vulcan species. This course is called, Vulcan Culture and Societal applied theory."
"Yes. Applied theory." She cut him off, " You are failing to apply it to us." Uhura asserted, and then added, "With all due respect sir."
More whispers from the students filled the room. It wasn't everyday a cadet accused their professor of failing to teach them.
"I'm afraid I'm not following your logic Ms. Uhura." Spock replied in a bored manor, yet a slight flicker in his eyes betrayed him. Inwardly, he was more than intrigued. Any other professor would have found her last comment highly inappropriate and would of thrown her from the class in indignant anger. However Spock was not as easily incensed. In fact, this was the first time a student had ever shown any type of real interest in his lessons. Albeit, their interest was in pointing out perceived flaws in what he thought to flawless curriculum, but he would take this any day over the deer-in-the-headlights look he usually got.
"Sir," Uhura began, "In a class with applied theory in the title, we have come to expect the course material to be taught in such a manor that bridges the gap between useless cognitive knowledge of a given topic or species, and reshapes it in a way that is applicable in real life settings."
"I am more than aware of the meaning of applied theory Ms. Uhura. You're point?" Spock stood tall with his arms behind his back, his gaze never wavering.
"Well. This is Starfleet. An inter-galactic humanitarian organization, that comes into contact with well over 2,000 different spacelife-species. My point is that you are telling us how Vulcan's react to Vulcan's in a conflict escalating situation. Given the consistent nature of Vulcan cognitive processes leaning always to the side of strategy and logic, it is appropriate to predict reliable responses. But tell me sir, when is the last time you spoke with a Vulcan?" Spock's eyes narrowed, and the lecture hall became soundless once again.
"I hardly see how that pertains." Spock retorted, refusing to disclose what he felt to be personal information.
"It pertains, I assure you." Uhura continued. Spock noted how her words were coming out a bit rushed now. It was common for humans to talk faster as their point was about to be revealed. "For the sake of argument, lets assume that it has been at least three weeks." Spock nodded in approval to her imaginary estimation of his Vulcan social life.
"Well, since that time, you have only come into contact with I assume mainly humans, a various other spacelife-species studying or teaching at this campus. You are neglecting to inform us of a very volatile variable." The corner of spocks mouth twitched up in a barely noticeable smile. Ah, he thought to himself, as he understood her conclusion. "While it is a bit useful to know how Vulcan's react to Vulcan's in conflict escalating situations, is it not that much more useful and applicable to us, to understand how Vulcan's react to other species in similar situations."
"Vulcan's react exactly the way I previously stated regardless of the species they are dealing with. It is the logical thing to do." Spock replied cooly. He raised his eyebrows as he watched the young female student clearly roll her eyes at him. A human gesture he knew to mean a combination of irritation and dissatisfaction.
"Come on Sir?! Do you really expect us to buy that." Uhura retorted.
"As I am not selling anything, of course your are not expected to proverbially buy it." Spock replied as the corner of the young cadet's mouth turned up into a smile. "But I remain unmoved in my assertion."
"Correct me if I am wrong, but would you still remain unmoved in your assertion if a huge Klingon warrior, a race known for its explosive, and impulsive manner was screaming at you in a quickly escalating conflict situation." Several students smiled at the thought of it.
"I would react solely cognitively and strategically. Emotional responses do not come into the equation simply because they might for the other arguing party. It is true that it may be easier for me to react this way to other Vulcans because I do assume that they will respond likewise to me. However a Vulcan's tactics for conflict response do not change for other species, they merely adapt to take into account the aggressors conflict patterns and norms."
"Yes but…" Uhura's eye's looked up as she searched for the right words, "as conflicts intensify, conversations become increasingly impulsive, emotional, and improvisational for mine, and most species. Thus, to the extent that conflicts are deep-seated and volatile, it is less useful to regard communication as an act designed to resolve conflict issues, and more appropriate to view communication as an expressive and relational event with ambiguous goals and consequences. If this is true, where is the logic to be found in that?"
Spock was stunned. Who is this girl? He thought as a mixture a pure annoyance, and fascination washed over him. Just then the bell chimed signaling the end of class. Suddenly the quite room, was filled with the sound of scrapping chairs, talking, and zippers as the students gathered their things and exited. Some took their time putting their things away, eager to see if the outspoken cadet would be punished.
"Ms. Uhura, a word in my office please." Spock requested. Uhura just nodded as she continued to gather her things. She was certain she heard some student say to another,
"Ohhhhhh, somebody's in trouble." While a few others snickered behind him. An attractive looking male walking up the aisle, winked at her,
"That's what you get for making the teacher look stupid." He whispered as he passed by. She remembered his face from a few of her other linguistic courses. He had seen her challenge all of those professors too.
She pulled her bag over her head and held on to the strap that cut diagonally across her chest as she made her way down the aisle. Spock stood by the door leading to a back hallway as she approached she was about to spout off her apologies, but before she could he had turned and exited the door, apparently not wanting to discuss anything in front of the curious stragglers.
She followed him down the lonely hallway. She knew it well. She mentally noted the office doors of the other professors who had required a "private" chat with her before to discuss her, "blatant disrespect for her instructors". Five.
"Ms. Uhura," Spock replied as he held the door to his office open for her. She entered and stood facing his tidy desk. As she heard him close the door behind them, she launched into her usual apology,
"I'm sorry Professor Spock, I didn't mean to embarrass you…" She heard a distinct snort escape the half-Vulcan. She did a double take as he passed to see the sly smile resting on his lips.
"Why do you presume that you embarrassed me, Ms. Uhura?" Spock asked, clearly amused at the thought.
"Well," she paused, "Because every other professor begins these little sessions with, "How dare you embarrass me in front of my students…yada yada" She replied doing her best, pampas-windbag impression. Spock raised his eyebrows in what she assumed was borderline surprise.
"So this happens often?"
"I'm a bit out spoken at times." She replied innocently.
"Well, Ms. Uhura, you are also mistaken. My resolve remains unhindered. I am not prone to feeling embarrassment as easily as my human co-workers."
"So what does embarrass you?" Uhura challenged, a flicker of mischief alight behind her eyes. Spock stared at her sternly. Uhura, who was generally excellent at reading people's body language, could see plainly that her question was not received well. "Nevermind." She replied, adverting her gaze from his. Spock was surprised to see a slight hint of pink flush her ebony cheeks. He smiled inwardly at the irony. He continued on as though he hadn't noticed.
"Ms. Uhura, I'm not upset that you have an opinion. I'm not upset that you asked questions. In fact it is…." Spock looked about his immaculate office before he went on, "… rewarding to see that a student has taken such a proactive interest in the curriculum. I often wonder if students just accept what their professors say as fact, without ever bothering to objectively look at what they are being taught. It is both fascinating and satisfying to come across a student who not only does so, but strives for continued clarification on the subject matter." He motioned for her to sit down in the chair opposite his desk as he noticed her fidgeting back and forth. She was still avoiding his gaze, and he wondered to himself where the self-assured girl from the classroom had gone. He understood just as soon as he wondered it. She obviously didn't take compliments well. In his experience, most humans didn't.
"All that I ask, is that you save your questions, concerns, comments, and opinions to be discussed with me privately during my office hours. I have quite a bit of material to cover this semester, and clearly you already have a general grasp on said material. I need to spend class time teaching the students who don't."
"Understood." Uhura said plainly, looking him in the eye. Spock could sense a mixture of relief and sincerity behind her soft brown eyes. She had certainly not anticipated the cold, emotionless, half-vulcan, to react so kindly.
"Now I would very much like to continue the discussion started in class, but unfortunately I have a faculty meeting I must attend to. Are you available at this time tomorrow to continue it?" He asked, glancing at his data-planner screen. Uhura was taken aback. Never had she received an offer like this from a professor before.
"Uh…yeah… that would be fine." She stammered.
"Very well. Until then Ms. Uhura." He waved his hand in dismissal as he gathered some files from the desk drawer.
"Kay, um… enjoy your meeting." She said as she stood to leave.
"I won't." Spock replied matter-o-factly. "But I understand the sentiment implied. Thank you." Uhura just nodded, as she left his office.