Thursday, 22 May 2014

Should You Ever Date Your Student?

This week's letter comes from a teaching assistant who thinks his beautiful Brazilian student has the hots for him. Should he risk it all to get close to her?
Reader's Question
Hey Headmaster
I'm a teaching assistant in English literature at a large state university here in the East. There's a girl in my class — I'll call her Ariana — who has a crush on me. She's from Brazil, is highly intelligent, and a total knockout. Frankly, I can't stop looking at her, but I try and keep it to a secretive minimum since she's paying for an education and not to get hit on.

Anyway, I'm 26 and she's about 19. Sometimes Ariana comes to my office for help with her homework, and I've noticed that she sometimes touches me and always seems a little nervous in my presence. Her eyes give a lot away, too. I know I'm not imagining things when I say she's interested in me.

I can hardly concentrate on what I'm doing when we're sitting next to each other in this cramped little room. The whole thing makes me feel a bit like that teacher in the Police song "Don't Stand So Close To Me," who had his young female student coming on to him.

So the semester is almost over and Ariana has asked for my e-mail address and told me that she wants to come to me for help next semester too. I told her I might not be here come August when the new semester starts, since I might be teaching at another school three hours away, which alarmed her a bit. She said, "You're a traitor to your school," which was quite comical, but I suspect she was trying to convey the message that she was disappointed at the prospect of not seeing me in the immediate future.
is it inappropriate? Somehow it doesn't seem proper for me, her teacher, to ask Ariana for her phone number. I'm wondering if I should just forget about her and be pleasantly surprised if she e-mails me. It just seems odd for me to be the initiator in this situation.

So what do you think, Headmaster? I'd hate to let a great opportunity slip away by playing it so straight. On the other hand, I've got this thorny ethical dilemma. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. By the way, I'm a faithful reader of "The System" and think you give great advice.

Thomas - who doesn't want to kick himself later.
Hi Thomas
The only reason you'll be kicking yourself is if you don't realize right now how much you have to lose here, since teaching is your job . Do you really want to cross a certain line with this young chippy and have your reputation — as a sleaze that hits on his students — precede you to your next position?

In that case, you can kiss your sweet tenure goodbye! Next thing you know, you might not get hired anywhere . And forget the Police songs. You might have the coppers knocking on your door if you're not careful.

Should You Ever Date Your Student?
Heademaster teaches Thomas some important lessons...
know the consequences Let's consider the worst-case scenario: let's say Ariana has already been at two other colleges and four other professors have been fired when she blew the whistle on them for sexual harassment. Thomas, the fact is that you know absolutely nothing about this gorgeous specimen. How can you even be sure of her true age , especially when she's from another country? Think about it.

On the other hand, there is a best-case scenario, and it's that Ariana is deeply in love with you, and on account of you she wouldn't go back to Brazil unless they put an Uzi to her head. The reality of your situation is somewhere in between these two extremes, and my job is to train you to figure out that reality, much like a police officer would be trained to collect evidence by a forensic scientist. What you have to do is examine all these clues and possibilities.

Still, the main thing to keep in mind is this: anything that jeopardizes your livelihood is just not worth it.
two more problems But if you determine that Ariana is a bona fide dating prospect — and you obviously think she is — you've still got two problems:

1- She's not a U.S. citizen and her family's not here, which means her long-term presence is questionable.
2- She's a beautiful creature, and no doubt everyone's been telling her that since she first dipped her toes in the Amazon.

Sure, she's paying for an education and not to get hit on, but like Sal "The Fish" Love says, "She can see the muscles straining in your neck every time you look in her direction!" You have to learn to relax when you're around this girl.

Nevertheless, touching you and being nervous in your presence are two great, great signs of high Interest Level. Fantastic observation on your part, dude. (But when you say her eyes give a lot away, that's just a little too general. Are they like flashlights throwing out beams of love at you and you alone? If you're going to be a detective on Love and Order, you've got to be more specific. That's what I always tell you guys.)

Anyway, as long as she's chasing you, you've got a real shot. So what you're going to do is be her friend .

But Thomas, telling her you might not be here come August was a big mistake. Why in the world are you talking to this girl about the future? Like my cousin "Fast Eddie" Love says, "If you're going to leave, tell her five minutes before you leave! Whatever you do, don't tell her now!" Because if you tell her now, you can't erase what you've planted in her mind. And the worst part is she might use it against you. You men out there have to learn to keep your mouths shut!
she's giving you buying signals You don't have to initiate, pal, because Ariana's coming at you. When she called you a traitor to your school that was Womanese for "I like you." She's been giving you buying signals. Now you have to hope that she'll ask you for your home phone number. You're going to have to outwait this honey.

So Thomas, you really don't have a dilemma of any kind. Your goal is to make this girl fall in love with you. When she turns 23, then you can marry her because she won't be a baby anymore.

Just hold your horses before you do something really stupid. If Ariana doesn't ask for your number and call you, she was just flirting.

Remember guys; if you want to date your student, she's got to come at you.

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