Consensual Relationships Between Students and Faculty
Dating faculty members
The best time to date your professor, if at all, is after you have graduated from school. While it is true that some students have been able to date their professors without any problems, this is the exception rather than the rule.
Some of the problems inherent in dating your professor are:
- When he/she has so much power over your grade(s) (and hence your future), it is difficult to have a relationship of equals;
- If your relationship is known to other people and your grades are excellent, some students and/or faculty may question the validity of your grades and find it hard to take you seriously as a student;
- If your relationship is secret people could still find out about it and again question the validity of your grades. Because you have a personal relationship which is likely to influence your professor’s objectivity, you, yourself may be unsure of your true academic performance which can lead to self-doubt;
- If the relationship ends badly with a lot of hard feelings on both sides, depending on his/her position:
- he/she could sabotage your grade, or at least leave you wondering if his/her personal feelings influenced the grade;
- he/she could talk about you to other teachers and negatively influence how they perceive you;
- if he/she is the only one teaching any courses that you must take, it will be very awkward being in those classes. It will be difficult to ensure that his/her personal feelings wouldn’t affect his/her behavior toward you in class or at grading time;
- if he/she teaches in your major department, you might feel very uncomfortable not only with him/her but with others in the department as well. Indeed, some women go out of their way to avoid both a professor who is an ex-boyfriend and his/her department in general, and end up feeling alienated by the whole experience;
- it would be extremely difficult to use him/her as a reference for graduate school or for employment;
Even if the relationship ends amicably it would be difficult to know for sure if your grade was influenced by the professor’s personal feelings, and it might still be awkward to be in any of his/her classes in the future.
Information obtained from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Further guidance on the possible implications of students dating their professors is available on their website.
Dating teaching assistants
Teaching assistants cannot have evaluative, supervisory, or instructional authority (including the assignment of grades) over a student with whom the teaching assistant is having or has recently had a romantic or sexual relationship.
If such a relationship exists or has existed between a teaching assistant and a student over whom the teaching assistant has evaluative or supervisory authority, the teaching assistant must report the relationship to his or her department chair, dean, or Dean of The Graduate School.
Learn more about the special rules for teaching assistants and consensual relationships with students.