Ask Bwog: Relationships with Professors, TAs, and Guest Lecturers
Written by Bwog Staff
It’s that time of year again, when Columbia students choose their classes, make new friends, and get hot and bothered when Professor Sexy Time bends over to pick up the chalk. Despite all the TAs, professors, and guest lecturers who look like the soles of Michael Phelps’ feet, there are still countless babes-with-brains teaching on Columbia’s dime. But, ask the more ambitious students, how about some hands-on education—or, to put it another way, what are Columbia’s views on private office hours in a nice place downtown with a quiet bar and a quieter doorman? Bwog’s ‘Licit Sexpert Rae B. tackles this burning question…
Take a cold shower and turn in your Econ homework on time, because the official Columbia University policy on student and teacher/TA relationships is NO. That is pretty much as subtle as the official wording gets. In the policy listed by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, faculty members are forbidden from having consensual, “private” relationships with any student “over whom he or she [the professor] exercises academic or professional authority.” Also, if you have any previous personal relationship with a faculty member, they can’t touch you with a ten-foot laser pointer. (Not literally touch you, of course, as lasers are made of particles and waves and things that don’t touch anyone—bottom line: if you want to do the teacher, drop the class.)
The policy for Teaching Assistants is even stricter. “Personal relationships, whether intimate or not,” are so deeply un-okay that—rumor has it—TAs who get to know their students too well are grouped by academic focus, entered into a lottery, and forced to fight to the death in a forest arena beneath the Teacher’s College. Although it is acknowledged that some TAs are not made of stone and consequently might become friendly with their students, the official stance is that any kind of relationship whatsoever outside of the academic environment can be grounds for removal, for showing “poor judgment as a TA.”
The main concern for the University seems to be that student and teacher/TA relationships “pose a threat to academic professionalism in situations where they compromise, or appear to compromise, the faculty members’ judgment of students.” Fair enough—there’s no way to prove that Professor von HitDatAss isn’t giving that chick in the fourth row an A because he’s doinking her, or giving her an F because he isn’t anymore. It is also unfair to students who rely on professors and TAs for time and attention if some can exert pressure based on an intimate relationship.
But, there’s some good news for those amorous at heart! Although Columbia does have these policies in writing, there are no automatic penalties: all complaints are reviewed by the administration before action is taken. So if you do get a chance to, uh, “manually elevate” your TA’s grading curve, don’t worry, coming clean won’t get anyone fired, at least right off the bat.
However, smoke 19 feet away from a dorm and they’ll cuff you like the devilspawn you are.
Free razors via Wikimedia Commons