I'v already read the similar questions here, but i'm sure those are not applicable in my case.

The assistant reminded us during the last session that we can contact him via email, he is only responsible for a chapter not the whole course. Usually my professor teaches the theory and his assistants handle the exercise sessions.

I tried to contact the person twice via email about fifteen and five days ago respectively, but I have not received any response yet, and I'm not expecting any response at all based on his behaviour before.

I really need an answer before the deadline, so I decided to to contact the professor himself, explaining why and pose my question to him, but after consulting with some academic people this is going to be highly irregular. I don't really know how to handle this in an academically manner.

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    Are you confident that there is no technical problem? Can you ask other students if they got replies? – quid Jan 5 '19 at 18:38
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    @quid 100% positive, in the second email i asked him to upload the slides online which btw he should have done on 14/12 and he did it in about an hour after i sent the second email that could be a coincidence, but still i didn't get any answer on my question. I received an answer from other people so i guess no technical problems at all. – Sam B Jan 5 '19 at 19:40
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    You probably mean 'professor assistant', as in someone that assists the professor. This is different from being an assistant professor. – Pedro Tamaroff Jan 5 '19 at 22:12
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    Consider also that he may be receiving your emails and even replying to them, but his replies are for some reason not getting to you. I assume you've checked your spam folder; that's the first place I'd look. – Wayne Conrad Jan 6 '19 at 1:39
  • @WayneConrad had a student complain to me that I had not replied and they did this in the middle of class : they were embarrased when it was their spam box... – Solar Mike Jan 6 '19 at 6:42

While there may be exceptions, I think that in most places it would be proper to ask the question of the professor. You could also mention that you haven't yet received an answer from the TA. That might get things moving better in the future.

I would't phrase the comment about the TA as an accusation or complaint; Just the fact that you asked, haven't yet heard back, and need the answer.


15 days ago was the weekend before Christmas, 5 days ago was new years day. I am not surprised the assistant hasn't answered: my university is closed till Monday. Since I have children and the school and kindergarten are also closed till Monday, I have very little time for answering emails. Moreover, this is the time of year to focus on other things than work (why am I writing this answer?).

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    This answer seems to assume that the OP is from a country where Christmas is celebrated. I think this is not the case in most of the world. – the L Jan 5 '19 at 15:07
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    Assuming you are in a country that celebrates Christmas, it is not common sense that (s)he responds in this period. It may be inconvenient, but it makes perfect sense to not work in periods that are holidays. That is what holidays are there for. – Maarten Buis Jan 5 '19 at 17:42
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    Quite frankly, if you tell students explicitly that they can ask you questions by email yet you plan not to respond to emails for the two weeks right before the exam due to holidays (which is arguably legitimate) then you better also mention that. (If the situation is as described in OP and the questions are reasonable, and they do not respond by choice, I'd consider this as careless behavior on the side of the assistant professor.) – quid Jan 5 '19 at 18:28
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    @theL I'm atheist and I don't celebrate Christmas. But I still have a long vacation, and I don't want to read work-related emails during my vacation. Make sense? – qsp Jan 5 '19 at 19:50
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    @theL The vast majority of Stack Exchange users come from a country where Christmas is celebrated. – Sparhawk Jan 6 '19 at 0:05

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