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Chukwu Chucks

Dating undergrad students?

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Saw a topic about dating other grads....how bout an undergrad?

Need you guys opinion...is that unethical? (when the undergrad is actually in the class we're TA-ing?) I've heard about some college girls dating a TA in-exchange for little "help"....I'm a normal straight guy, and I was a TA before, some of girls I taught were TOTALLY my type....

I admit I dated a girl from a class I tutored (we're both undergrads), and sometimes we got "private session" a week before an exam (no dirty mind please :D). Do you guys think it also unprofessional to do such thing anyway? (specially if one is graduate and other is undergrad?)

Edited by romeo2die

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Seems highly unethical if you're actually responsible for grading them, but fine if you're never in a position where you have to interact officially in your role as a grad student/TA. Although it could be problematic if they end up in some section of yours in the future, but you should be able to avoid that with planning, or if not address it with the professor in charge before hand and come up with a workaround.

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Nothing wrong professionally with it if you don't interact with the student in any sort of "official" capacity (e.g. TA or class instructor), especially if the undergrad is in a different field! Sure, the age/experience/maturity difference may be a factor depending on the two people, but it may not, especially since not everyone starts school at the same age anymore!

It would be a big problem if you are dating a student you are currently TA-ing or teaching. Most schools actually have some policy on this, official or not. They usually tell us that if you really think you want to date, then wait until the term is over and all the marks are submitted so that the student is not longer your student. If they end up in your class again, then you should definitely notify the instructor/department so that you either get assigned to a different session/course or ensure that you don't grade their work (although it would still be an issue since you may have "insider information").

I think if you follow these guidelines, then it will be professional. However, everyone else in the department are human and us humans like to gossip so your relationship will probably be talked about. You may be considered unprofessional even if you keep everything strictly kosher. But if knowing that, if the hypothetical couple think that the relationship is worth it, then to hell with others say :P Eventually, most people will stop talking about it and move on.

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I've actually heard of undergrads leaving their name and phone number on their teaching evaluations at the end of the semester if they wanted to ask their TA out. Once the semester is over, it's totally fine! The degree to which people gossip about it (if at all) probably depends on the the university and the department. Personally, I see nothing wrong with it.

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Highly unethical if you're TAing them... Borderline if you're tutoring them. And at some schools, even against policy if they're in the same discipline as you.

In other words, make sure you check the school policies.

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Like crazygirl, I have heard (and witnessed) some crazy cray stuff happen between TAs/students....like naked photos being sent to the TA, or sexual notes being placed in their assignments.

I've been in a situation where my close friends where in the class I TA'd for. If I ever felt that I couldn't mark them fairly, I would give them to another TA or to the professor.

As for dating- I think you're getting into a really sticky situation. As others have said- EVERYONE WILL KNOW!! Don't think that they won't...they will...trust me...TRUST ME! And as someone who is in a department with students who are trying to pretend 'not to date'...you will be talked about constantly! It might not bother you, but I would worry about how it might impact others' opinion of my credibility and or professional capacity...not to mention, it could be a huge liability for you for future work in the department.

I TA a lot, and I always am really careful at how students and other professors see me interact with the students I teach...I always meet in areas where there are lots of people and always have a history of our communication. I would never want to be in a situation where a student approached the department and said that they felt their mark in the class was tainted by our interactions/relationships. So dating an UG in a class I had would be completely off limits....

I might try thinking about the big potential picture rather than the short term 'randy' picture ;)

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At my university I know these sorts of relationships (TA/instructor and student) are allowed, but they MUST be disclosed. In fact, all conflicts of interest should be disclosed. Even if you are TAing a good friend, for example, you should let your instructor know.

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In my department, there was a grad student who was engaged to an undergrad in the same major. She registered for classes before he found out who he was TA-ing for, and she ended up being in one of his classes. At that point, it was too late to switch classes or TA assignments - they also have a child, so it was hard to re-arrange schedules. He just told the professor he was TA-ing the situation at the beginning of the semester, and the prof. was fine with it. Just meant the prof herself ended up grading the girl's work/exams, and they had some sort of arrangement regarding when/where he did the grading and kept the exams.

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I'll also note that there's a huge difference between *starting* to date an undergrad, and already dating one, when it comes to situations like the above.

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In my department, there was a grad student who was engaged to an undergrad in the same major. She registered for classes before he found out who he was TA-ing for, and she ended up being in one of his classes. At that point, it was too late to switch classes or TA assignments - they also have a child, so it was hard to re-arrange schedules. He just told the professor he was TA-ing the situation at the beginning of the semester, and the prof. was fine with it. Just meant the prof herself ended up grading the girl's work/exams, and they had some sort of arrangement regarding when/where he did the grading and kept the exams.

That seems like a different situation - one that they handled well!

I just think that if you start dating a student while you teach them, you could send mixed signals and it could be a whole bag of trouble. Like if a student who does poorly on an exam knows you've just started dating another student, they could easily take that to a higher power and say you're being bias towards the student your dating. I know that's a vague example, but for me, I wouldn't even want to have that hassle....if feel like there could be a lot of issues around if you're being fair...and if this turns out to be a big problem, then you could be labelled with something you don't want and then be restricted with TA jobs....I dunno....I just see it as an epic catastrophe, much like a zombie apocalypse ....run...run far away!

Each to their own! :)

Edited by Dal PhDer

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It all depends - in my mind - on the level of involvement one has in the class. If you're just providing office hours (which is most often the case at the undergraduate level) then get as down and nasty as you want. If you're actually grading exams - just don't do it. Even if you explain the situation to the prof. your TA'ing for, they'll come to their own conclusion about your level of ethical muster (and that it's probably not that great). Academically and professionally it's probably just NOT worth it.

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I think it is unethical to hit on or start dating someone while they are your student. Like other's have said, it might even be against policies if the policies regarding TAs are similiar to those of faculty. Things could also get really complicated and even ugly, like others have mentioned. I don't think it would be worth it. Wait until they are no longer your student.

Now if you are already in a relationship and they somehow end up in your class, then the best thing to do is to make sure there wouldn't be any bias with grading. It is best to let the professor know what the situation is and then let them or another TA grade that person's work.

Edited by robot_hamster

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Like crazygirl, I have heard (and witnessed) some crazy cray stuff happen between TAs/students....like naked photos being sent to the TA, or sexual notes being placed in their assignments.

That is crazy! Wow. I went to a liberal arts college with no grad students, so this is all new to me. I wouldn't feel uncomfortable if an undergrad had a crush on me if s/he was subtle about it, but anything like that would be pretty awkward. I'm guessing it doesn't usually go quite that far, and could get the undergrad in trouble if the TA chose to pursue it as sexual harassment.

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I have thought about this before. As an undergraduate student, I was an athlete. Often times, I would see coaches and graduate assistants dating student athletes. I always think in my head, if you want to date a student there is a large student body, why did you have to pick someone on the team you are coaching? Some places have policies about it, and some don't. However, I just would not get invovled with someone in your department/ major/ area or whatever. There is too many things that can happen. I have seen people lose jobs over this sort of situation. It is always tricky in college since there is nothing illegal about a teacher or TA dating student only ethical and social considerations. If you feel the need to date an undergraduate student, find someone in a different field!

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It is always tricky in college since there is nothing illegal about a teacher or TA dating student only ethical and social considerations. If you feel the need to date an undergraduate student, find someone in a different field!

Good thing Im in STEM field....gotta look for ladies in business department then, they surely know how to dress "properly"! :D

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I always think in my head, if you want to date a student there is a large student body, why did you have to pick someone on the team you are coaching?

If you feel the need to date an undergraduate student, find someone in a different field!

Not everyone picks their significant others based on such rational criteria! It's possible they "picked" someone in their field because that's who they met, and who shared their interests. But really, it seems like it should be possible to keep them at arms-length, at least until you're not directly responsible for grading or supervising them.

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I TA a lot, and I always am really careful at how students and other professors see me interact with the students I teach...I always meet in areas where there are lots of people and always have a history of our communication. I would never want to be in a situation where a student approached the department and said that they felt their mark in the class was tainted by our interactions/relationships. So dating an UG in a class I had would be completely off limits....

I think this is a really good point -- dating isn't the only way you can be put in a conflict of interest position. You wouldn't want to become best friends / enemies with your students either, for this reason! Sometimes undergrads invite their TAs to their parties, which I always politely decline. I try to be friendly, but I'm not friends with them while they are in my course. Usually the students who are interested in forming friendships with others in the field will end up working in the department as a undergrad researcher in the summer, which is when I can get to know them better on a personal/social level.

For the person who said it's okay if you are only providing office hours -- it still could be a problem if the TA has access to (or is perceived to have access to) any sort of exam information or assignment solutions. It could also be complicated if, for example, your student has an ex-partner in the same class and the "ex" complains about you not helping them as much because of your relationship with the first student. Or, other students may just complain in general about you helping a certain student more than others. I can see this happening if you have a ton of students waiting for your office hours and you don't have time to talk to everyone (what, it could happen!)

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As far as I know most students have explicit rules forbidding TAs from dating their students. Look into that before you do anything, because it might jeopardize your future possibilities for TA-ing, etc!

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Nothing wrong professionally with it if you don't interact with the student in any sort of "official" capacity (e.g. TA or class instructor), especially if the undergrad is in a different field! Sure, the age/experience/maturity difference may be a factor depending on the two people, but it may not, especially since not everyone starts school at the same age anymore!

I respectfully disagree with this generalization. One can be in full compliance with the policies of one's academic institution and one's department but still make a professional gaffe. Tenured professors, not policies, are the guardians of the professions we want to join. They can help, hinder, and outright screw you a thousand ways to Sunday's roast chicken dinner without you ever learning how or why. Consider a hypothetical professor that has a specific vision of how graduate students should NOT fraternize with undergraduates. This vision could be rooted in tradition or theory or prejudice or bitterness or the wisdom of hard won experience. So while you might not be doing anything wrong--the relationship is within policy--such a professor could plant a seed in a departmental meeting that bears bittersweet fruit for you down the line. You will likely never know.

Consequently, I urge graduate students to manage carefully their risk when considering all social relationships with undergraduates (and, for that matter, with fellow graduate students as well as professors). Make sure you know your department's and your parent institution's policies as well as the underlying sensibilities--especially if you're attending a public institution in a state that takes an aggressive stance on issues of sexual harassment. (If you go through any harassment training, you'll get the sense that you basically can't say anything to anybody--not just because they might take exception, but a third party might as well.)

Figure out who (if anyone) in your department could make a stink about such a tryst. While sensibilities have changed greatly the last few decades, there are still professors who are "Old School." Moreover, there are a number of intellectual traditions that ask fundamental questions about the dynamics of power in all social relations.

Do what you can to see if there are any bodies buried in shallow graves so that you don't inadvertently unearth a corpse. Professors can get--surly--when things aren't going well at home, who is to stop a grumpy pumpkin from using you as a chew toy because your relationship reminds a professor of something/someone s/he doesn't like?

Also, please do your best to balance your short term desires with your over-the-horizon needs. You may find that more and more, you are what you're studying and that time is an increasingly valuable resource. When this realization hits, on which side of the divide would you want to be?

HTH.

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text

All the world's a minefield; watch every step? :lol: I'm afraid I have to respectfully disagree with this mindset - I'm not sure that's a very good philosophy for approaching anything at all, let alone a big chunk of your 20s! If someone above you is going to screw you for a petty reason without you ever knowing about it, there's no way for you avoid it anyway. If it's not relationships with fellow students (grad or undergrad) it could be something you write or something you say or something you wear or something you post, etc.

Also, you call it a short-term desire, but no one said these were one-night-stands. In fact the original post says dating undergrads. People meet future spouses all the time at university. It's possible to exercise common sense and adhere to rules and ethics without neutering all potential relationships just because you might step on some invisible toes.

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Consider a hypothetical professor that has a specific vision of how graduate students should NOT fraternize with undergraduates. This vision could be rooted in tradition or theory or prejudice or bitterness or the wisdom of hard won experience. So while you might not be doing anything wrong--the relationship is within policy--such a professor could plant a seed in a departmental meeting that bears bittersweet fruit for you down the line. You will likely never know.

...

Figure out who (if anyone) in your department could make a stink about such a tryst. While sensibilities have changed greatly the last few decades, there are still professors who are "Old School." Moreover, there are a number of intellectual traditions that ask fundamental questions about the dynamics of power in all social relations.

It's true that there is that risk that someone in a position of power could disapprove of what you're doing despite your staying within protocol. But this is true for almost anything you could possibly do. Maybe someone sees you arriving at 1pm and staying until 10pm and frowns upon that. Maybe someone believes someone of your gender or ethnicity can never succeed in the field. Or the fact that you are in any relationship at all means that you are "distracted" or your priorities are not in academia. You will never please everyone so I think you should just accept that and be yourself, within reason.

In addition, you also mention that some "old school" ways are changing. The hypothetical departmental meeting would be filled with educated people, young and old, and they probably already have their own views on whatever your situation is. If they don't feel like you did anything wrong, then the hypothetical disapproving prof's opinion wouldn't be considered. If they do think you're in the wrong, then the prof would just be telling them something that they would likely find out eventually anyways.

It may be better to prioritize your worries to people who you regularly interact with. It would be unwise to doing something you know your supervisor would not approve of (even if it's within protocol) without considering the consequences. You might end up doing it anyways, but it's worth a second evaluation. As for everyone else, I guess you can decide whether it's worth it or not, but I wouldn't worry too much about how every single person who has power over me (which is pretty much everyone) would think. This may be a bit naive, but if the fact that you are in a relationship with someone who was your former student, or if you are a man/woman, or if you are left/right wing, or if you have a certain ethnicity is the factor that prevents you from getting a job at University X down the line, then I'd say you probably don't want to be there anyways. Optimistically, even if someone at your former department mentions bad things about you because of these things, a sensible hiring committee would know that those things don't matter.

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I read Sigaba's post differently.

It's not so much about the fact that you can get in trouble following protocol, but rather that the "written rules" for protocol are not always in sync with the unwritten culture of the institution. So even if you're technically "OK" in doing something, it's worth taking the extra time to find out if it's really considered OK or not.

Learning the "unwritten rules" of academia, just like any other profession, is exceptionally important to future success.

Similarly, while there's probably always going to be someone waiting to "ding" you for any opinion or action, it's better to know who that person is and what you're doing that ticked them off. It's better to be in the position of making an informed decision to do something knowing the consequences, rather than to do something and unwittingly blunder across an institutional more.

Edited by Eigen

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