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Secret Lovers: Why dating your professor is a bad idea

Recognizing a couple is pretty easy–the public displays of affection are dead giveaways. However, if someone is dating their professor, the relationship might not be so easy to point out.

Students try their luck at dating their professor for various reasons, be it for a good grade in the class, gaining favoritism in a sense of being able to break class rules or simply because said student is attracted to the professor. Sounds crazy, but it happens more often than you think. The thing is, you won’t catch too many students or professors who will admit to being together.

Personally, I feel like it is a bad idea for both parties, but more so in the student’s case. Allow me to explain:

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1. Students and professors are on two different pages in life.

If you are around 20 years old, you are still in the beginning stages of adulthood while your 40-year-old professor has already “been there, done that.” No matter how mature you think you are, you can’t successfully build a lasting relationship with said professor without sacrificing all of the wild experiences you’re supposed to have at this point in your life. Then, when the relationship is over, you’ll look back and regret that you missed out on everything.

2. Student-professor relationships don’t always end well.

When things get messy, they get ugly. Let’s say you’re dating your professor and for whatever reason, you break up with him/her. If the professor is feeling salty about it, there goes your A plus! And even if he/she doesn’t feel salty about it, what if you have questions about a test or writing assignment? Don’t you think going to your professor’s office during his/her office hours will be a little awkward?

And if your professor is the one who ends the relationship, you may be the one who feels salty. You may want to get revenge in the worst way, which brings me to my next point…

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3. There are serious consequences for student-professor affairs.

Heartbreak isn’t the only consequence of a student-professor relationship gone wrong. If it ends, and you want revenge, the aftermath will get real.

For one, he/she could lose his/her job. Two, if the professor is married, it could break up his/her home. Three, depending on how big the relationship drama is, it may bring media attention.

As reported by Lee Shearer of The Augusta Chronicle, art professor and renowned painter James Barsness lost his tenure at the University of Georgia for having sex with a student while in Costa Rica for a 2012 Maymester course. He was denied an appeal in August 2013.

The University of Connecticut has banned all student-professor relationships under any and all circumstances. According to Tyler Kingkade of the Huffington Post, the ban was a result from a long-time professor at the University of Connecticut being placed on leave for sexual misconduct due to accusations of visiting the freshmen dorm facilities, issuing drugs to students and having sexual contact with children.

There aren’t any specific restrictions on student-professor relationships at Georgia State. However, there is a clause in our university’s Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures (206.03, Part III, Section V) under “Persons Who May Be Involved in Sexual Harassment” that says:

“Sexual harassment most frequently occurs when a person in authority harasses someone with less power, e.g., faculty member and student, administrator and faculty member, supervisor and staff member. However, it is possible for a person with less power to harass a person in authority. Sexual harassment may also take place between persons of the same status, e.g., faculty-faculty, student-student, staff-staff. It may take place between persons of the opposite sex, or between persons of the same sex.”

So basically, a scorned student at GSU who wants to get revenge on a professor that dumped him/her could file a formal complaint with the institution as a victim of sexual harassment.

If you ask me, dating a professor is highly unprofessional as a student, especially if that professor works in the field you’re trying to get into. When people tell you to network with your professors, that doesn’t mean bed them. You can get a good grade in class without taking your clothes off. You can gain favoritism by simply being a “teacher’s pet” or befriending them. And just because you have a crush on someone doesn’t mean you have to pursue it–professor or not.

Students, don’t date your professor.

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