While I've been out after my trip to the ER, higher powers have been preparing evidence for me that doing favors to students should be approached with extreme caution. A student (let's call him M.) had asked me if he could take my course instead of another class he is required to take and also if he could take it in absentia while he is studying abroad. I had no problem allowing that but my Chair said it shouldn't be done because it would set a bad precedent for other students. So I told M. this can be done and considered the matter closed.
Today, a colleague and I are being bombarded by e-mails from students who were told by M. that my class can now be taken instead of the other one. From my sick bed (to use a bit of an elevated rhetoric with the hopes of eliciting the compassion of my postmodern readers), I have been trying to inform the students that this practice does not exist. Like I have nothing else to do when I'm fresh from the ER. My Chair was right in saying that this will have droves of students descending on us demanding special treatment.
So a lesson learned: no special treatment for students.