Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Let's Get Kraken

Student Professor Relationships: When, if Ever, is it Okay?

77 posts in this topic

1 minute ago, Eggegg said:

Huh?

People often bring up their daughters as a preface to speaking out against sexual assault or misogyny. "As a father to two wonderful girls, I denounce..."

People shouldn't need that kind of connection in order to care. Would they not care if they didn't have daughters?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, DanteGabriel said:

People often bring up their daughters as a preface to speaking out against sexual assault or misogyny. "As a father to two wonderful girls, I denounce..."

People shouldn't need that kind of connection in order to care. Would they not care if they didn't have daughters?

Um.. Because humans tend to care more about the welfare of their own families than that of complete strangers. Thats just life unfortunately.

Not sure what that has to do with the topic at hand though...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Eggegg said:

Um.. Because humans tend to care more about the welfare of their own families than that of complete strangers. Thats just life unfortunately.

Not sure what that has to do with the topic at hand though...

The topic is about the ethics of certain types of relationships.  Perhaps while having a conversation on ethics one ought to remember that women aren't just daughters, but people too.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, Eggegg said:

Huh?

I think to translate the shorthand, often, when something happens to a woman, particularly a young woman, a male politician or pundit or someone gets on TV and says "as a father of daughters, I find this inexcusable" or some such.  And I do honestly think that the sentiment, as expressed, is usually heartfelt, and is really the person trying to express empathy.  EXCEPT (1) it is becoming trite (like "thoughts and prayers"), (2) usually, whatever has happened is so heinous that the correct answer is "as a decent human being, I find this inexcusable", and (3) it's not that you never hear it, but you don't usually hear "father/mother of sons" invoked in the same way.  And so it's frustrating that whatever the inexcusable conduct is (a) was only identified as such relative to whether the person had a (female) child (the person persumably knows and cares about lots of women and, see above re usually a human being thing not a woman thing) and (b) the infantalization of what is usually something that has happened to a grown woman.  So, I think that is the long version of the frustration expressed by DG.  Make sense?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zabzie is right about what I was getting at, and elaborated on it much better than I could, but I also thought I was posting my response within the Men Men Men thread, where decrying the "daughters as a shortcut to empathy for women" trope might fit a little better.

ETA: On a day when a sitting US Senator defends crappy tax policy by saying that too many people blow their savings on "movies, booze, and women" like women are a commodity, it's worth repeating.

Edited by DanteGabriel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, DanteGabriel said:

Zabzie is right about what I was getting at, and elaborated on it much better than I could, but I also thought I was posting my response within the Men Men Men thread, where decrying the "daughters as a shortcut to empathy for women" trope might fit a little better.

ETA: On a day when a sitting US Senator defends crappy tax policy by saying that too many people blow their savings on "movies, booze, and women" like women are a commodity, it's worth repeating.

Ah, yes I wondered because it didn't make a lot of sense in this thread. Fair enough. I understand the sentiment 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Dr. Pepper said:

I'm a little surprised at all of the No Nope Never responses about relationships between students and professors.  Most students aren't taking classes in every single department so there are a rather large number of faculty members they will never come across on campus even if they come across them outside of campus and strike up a relationship there.  

DP, I'm going by my gut here.  I work at a Community College and only have students for 1-2 years.  I have had several persistent student suitors who were otherwise tempting AND age appropriate.  It personally squicks me out.  My classes are small and for a time I have ABSOLUTE power over their education, especially because my class is often a lynchpin in their advancement.  EVERY SINGLE TIME I have fought one off they wound up with another student or someone at the same place in life as they are.  I mean early / transitioning career.  Looking toward the future, etc.  It's that part that is disturbing.  College is exciting.  Everything is new and there are so many options ahead of my students.  A relationship with me (even as a young prof) would smother that.  It's unsettling to me.  

And this is coming from someone who loves power games in relationships.  From the outside it looks like stealing someone's future or at least heavily steering it.  YMMV.

Edited by Lily Valley

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Mlle. Zabzie said:

I think it is completely unethical while the student is in the professor's class, and probably still unethical while the student is matriculated at the University in question.  But post-graduation?  I mean, professors have relationships too.    

Full disclosure, I went on a few dates with a grad school student who taught the lab section of my econometrics class, after the semester was over.  There was not much of an age differential - I was 21 or so and he was 24 or 25 (nice guy, cute dog, but I wasn't ready to be mature enough to date him even with that small age differential; was too busy enjoying my Senior year).  But, he wasn't a tenured professor at the University, which I think is different.  

And the age differential thing?  I have really mixed feelings about it, and honestly don't think it's actually that relevant to the ethical question at hand.  

 

Zabz, grad / undergrad is a whole different thing.  Even if the grad student is a TA.  They're all students.  I considered dating a former lab instructor, but we had the same quantum class and I was mopping the floor with him.  Nope.  My department boasts a wonderful former TA / student marriage.  I have no problem with that.

Part of my opinion is based on what my college experience was for me.  It was the first time I was in a truly meritocritous environment and had mentors who had the patience for me.  My profs changed and shaped my life profoundly.  

I had crushes on all of my noteworthy instructors.  Luckily, they knew better than I did that what I needed was education, encouragement and opportunities.  Not a date.  I can only thank them for this by paying it forward.  I recognize that with my students, for some of them, my words and actions have a weight I can only remember.  If there is any chance of breaking the fragile chain of trust that was handed to me, it's not worth it. 

This is why I object to Prof / student relationships.  It fosters an attitude of cynicism.  An attitude of "Oh, it's like THAT around here."  

It certainly is not like THAT in my department.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, Lily Valley said:

DP, I'm going by my gut here.  I work at a Community College and only have students for 1-2 years.  I have had several persistent student suitors who were otherwise tempting AND age appropriate.  It personally squicks me out.  My classes are small and for a time I have ABSOLUTE power over their education, especially because my class is often a lynchpin in their advancement.  EVERY SINGLE TIME I have fought one off they wound up with another student or someone at the same place in life as they are.  I mean early / transitioning career.  Looking toward the future, etc.  It's that part that is disturbing.  College is exciting.  Everything is new and there are so many options ahead of my students.  A relationship with me (even as a young prof) would smother that.  It's unsettling to me.  

And this is coming from someone who loves power games in relationships.  From the outside it looks like stealing someone's future or at least heavily steering it.  YMMV.

That's fair.

I'm influenced a lot by my experience where I was sort of a non-traditional student as I had briefly been in the military before going to college and had been financially supporting myself for years.  I lived off campus at my small liberal arts college which was unusual so I interacted less with the student population and more with locals of the small town area, which included professors.  I dated a couple.  I often found it difficult to connect with other students as we were in different stages of life at the time even if we were all at college.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say it's never appropriate where the professor has some control or influence over the academic assessment of the student. So conflicts of interest really. Outside of that, consenting adults and all that, I think it's no one's business. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, The Anti-Targ said:

I would say it's never appropriate where the professor has some control or influence over the academic assessment of the student. So conflicts of interest really. Outside of that, consenting adults and all that, I think it's no one's business. 

Given the relationships between faculty members how can any faculty member not have some influence over the academic assessment of students?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Given the relationships between faculty members how can any faculty member not have some influence over the academic assessment of students?

Depends on the size of the institution. A small institution could place a blanket ban on student teacher relationships because of that close connection among all faculty members. But a university with 10,000+ students may place a departmental ban rather than an institution-wide ban. As well as put ethical red lines in place where if you, as a professor, have a meaningful personal or professional connection with another member professor in a different department then that connection is covered by a relationship ban. Rules should be put in place to the extent necessary, with a bit of a buffer.

If you look at it slightly differently that could help set appropriate guidelines, without the ick factor playing on people's minds. Say the life-partner of a professor decides to go to that professor's school to further their education or look to make a complete career change. Which professors would you not want to have influence or control over that life-partner's academic assessments due to conflict of interest?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Dr. Pepper said:

That's fair.

I'm influenced a lot by my experience where I was sort of a non-traditional student as I had briefly been in the military before going to college and had been financially supporting myself for years.  I lived off campus at my small liberal arts college which was unusual so I interacted less with the student population and more with locals of the small town area, which included professors.  I dated a couple.  I often found it difficult to connect with other students as we were in different stages of life at the time even if we were all at college.

I was a single parent and the only "adult" among my peers in most classes, even if only a few years older.  Even still, the gulf between me and my profs (in hindsight) was enormous.  I understand for a lot of people college is more of a passing through.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Dr. Pepper said:

This is what's implied when you bring up the 'how would you like your daughter to blah blah blah'.  Why can't you pose questions about older/younger relationships without worrying about how you'd feel about your hypothetical daughter.  

I can only be responsible for what I said, not what you read into that.

No matter what anyone in this thread says and no matter how enlightened one may think we are, I'm 100% sure beyond a shadow of doubt that every single one of us would think differently about relationship between the 49 man and 22 year old girl if the girl in question is their friend or their daughter. If you fail to see that, then there's no point in explaining why I used that example.

Don't worry, it's not a patriarchal thing and keeping women oppressed. I would feel the same if my hypothetical 22 year old son would date a 49 year old woman. ;) 

I actually think that relationships with a large age gap between partners are bound to run into difficulty sooner or later. That does not mean they can't turn out great, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/4/2017 at 11:25 PM, Dr. Pepper said:

From what you've written, there are some serious concerns about this relationship beyond the part where he was once her professor.  I hope you are able to talk to her about the situation to see if it's something she feels safe in.

I have. My SO and I have both also told her that if she ever feels uncomfortable in the relationship or decides that she wants out, she's welcome to crash with us for as long as necessary. My concern was that she might stay in that situation even if it starts to feel wrong because she wouldn't want to have to go back to her family.

That kind of touches on what makes me uneasy about the whole student/professor thing in general. As many others have mentioned, the problem is the power imbalance. If she depends on him for a place to live, her academic standing, or career stability, then she might feel uncomfortable speaking up or leaving if the relationship did take a turn.

19 hours ago, Lany Freelove Cassandra said:

This adds a lot more to the story and it does concern me that it is an unhealthy relationship (becoming, if not already emotionally abusive*). And since they are in the same field, and there was the offer of help with grad school, I think the power dynamic remains, even though she graduated, that changes my opinion of the situation.

As far as abusive relationships go, they often start with the emotional abuse, making the person feel worthless and often dependent, and when they eventually escalate, the person is already trained to accept the abuse, after all, they have become convinced that they are dumb, worthless, no one would treat them better, he doesn't mean it, he really loves them. I don't think this was a paranoid reaction on your part.)

I don't know if abusive is necessarily the word I'd use. Tbh it's hard for me to tell because the situation that she came from was really quite bad, so a lot of these things can come off as either controlling and isolating, or as efforts to keep a bunch of abusive lunatics from physically dragging her home, ruining her career, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

 

I don't know if abusive is necessarily the word I'd use.

Yes, abusive is the  right word.  Abuse is more than just physical violence. Isolation, belittling controlling are all abusive. The dominate/abusive person daily erodes the self confidence of the partner. There's often gaslighting going on at this stage as well.

It's all designed to take away the agency of the partner, to make them feel as if they could never leave, because they are not good enough for anything else. It's manipulation to keep them with you (not you, the abuser).

The thing is, many physically abusive relationships start out with controlling, isolation and belittling. Once these have taken their toll, who can the victim call, will they have the courage to do so?

Emotional abuse is just as damaging long term as physical abuse, it's harder to document/prove and harder to get people to believe you without any physical evidence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Lany Freelove Cassandra said:

Emotional abuse is just as damaging long term as physical abuse, it's harder to document/prove and harder to get people to believe you without any physical evidence.

Very true, thank you for pointing that out. That's what frustrates me, I don't know how much of it is actually him trying to control or isolate her.

Take the thing with her phone. Now, she shut her old phone off and got a new number/phone the day that she moved in with this guy, and his house is two hours out of state. Oh and something else I didn't mention earlier, she does not have a car and does not know how to drive. So as you can imagine, this is pretty concerning. At the same time, knowing her family and the place she was leaving, I can kind of see a reason why moving and changing her number so abruptly like that may have been necessary. She actually snuck her stuff out of her room a bag at a time for weeks, like Andy Dufresne digging his escape tunnel.

At the same time it bothers me how much of the situation looks bad, but also has a convenient explanation. That's what I think I was getting at earlier when I mentioned my impression that he might have seen her situation as ideal for his own ends. She's somebody that has a good reason to cut off their past and start over, and somebody that would be kind of dependent on him for a lot of things. Not everything. She has her own money, she has a job, grad classes, and she still stays in touch with friends. But she's also pretty much dependent on his good will for a lot of things, and sometimes she says things that make me think she doesn't fully appreciate the situation.

Edited by Let's Get Kraken

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0