Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Things I Really Didn't Want to Know

Sheldon Secretary:  Just because you said you had cooties and I was sympathetic because my aunt had them too doesn't mean I am now your medical confidant. It's fine to tell me how you're doing. I ask, however, that you remember the initials after my name are PhD, not MD.  I don't need your entire medical history and all the sordid details of your last eight doctor visits. When I left the office, I couldn't believe you followed me down the hall and into the elevator! Thank goodness you didn't have a key to my car. I honestly think you would have come home with me if you could have.

Post-Partum Patty: You've given birth in the middle of the semester. Congratulations on your new arrival! Of course I will give you an extension on the assignment. The play-by-play on your episiotomy and subsequent infection was way, way TMI. I will not be preserving your email for posterity. I guess I should count myself lucky you didn't send pictures.

Adulterous Associate Professor:  We've been great colleagues for many years. I consider your wife to be a friend as much as I do you. Confiding in me that a) you have a hottie in your class, b) said hottie has been hitting on you, c) your wife isn't putting out like she used to, and d) you're actually thinking of taking up hottie on her offer after the semester is over "so it will be more ethical" has given me a giant case of the squicks.  How many times have we talked about a couple of colleagues who have pulled this crap? Do you honestly think you're better than they are just because you won't do it in exchange for a grade? And how do I look your wife in the eye next time we all meet for coffee?

After a week of revelations like these, I wish I could just sneak into the building, teach my class, and sneak out to the bar. Or maybe I could just skip the first two steps.


  1. Oy. The squicks prof has me on the fence. I think there is a slight bit of leg room for the possible "on the side" bit to last one through the every-so-often dry spell that punctuates a 50 year marriage. It might allow the 50 years to happen instead of a quickie divorce and move on.

    But dating a student? NO. NO NO NO. Not at all.

  2. Ugh. All TMI is awkward, but colleagues' TMI is the worst. If you're friends with this guy, can you take the topic off the table in no uncertain terms? (And FTR I side with Monkey on the NONONONO-ness of sleeping with students...)

  3. I'd tell (1) and (2) that I'm not a medical doctor, and I'm not qualified or licensed to diagnose or treat any ailment, physical or psychological, so I really don't need the details you so generously provide. All I need is for you to provide me with a physican's note to document your absence from class, and I'll mark you "excused."

    I'd tell (3) that this is out of line, and I'll blow the whistle if you go through with it. This would be bad for you, since it would constitute legitimate and likely cause for revocation of tenure. Something to consider is that, once the class ends and the grades are posted and can no longer be changed, overly eager young hotties often cool off for their profs. At the very least, kindly leave me out of it.

  4. Oh my, I've been so busy with Real Life (tm) I've neglected the Misery! Must be because I've been skipping faculty meetings so much recently ...

    TMI TMI TMI! As if the more they tell, the more pity points I would be giving out? Just delete the emails and go wash your hands.

    (3) Keep your fingers off the students, full stop! When they have graduated, they will disappear. If you must do something extracurricular, then choose someone outside of the university, not a colleague or a student. And for heaven's sake: STFU about the bedroom details!

  5. I generally dislike #3. However, I've known more than a few proffies who started relationships with former students and have had healthy, enduring marriages with them. There are risks, as there are in all relationships. At the very least, just don't do anything until the person is no longer your student and is expected to never ever ever ever receive a grade from you again. There also are significant cultural differences on this (e.g., between SLACs and the giant public universities).

    And welcome back, Suzy.

  6. "There also are significant cultural differences on this"

    We have one single, late 30's prof who is in his second serious relationship with very young, current students in 10 years. The first one didn't end too terribly but it was uncomfortable around the department when it did. BTW, there is no policy of any substance against this sort of thing here. It just isn't talked about in the faculty (or administration AFAIK) . Still, students talk and there is a considerable ick factor coming from them.

    The problem with his current flame (they live together) is she's an entitled twit who once told me she felt that, now that she and my colleague were "close", that she and I were now also more colleagues than student/teacher. To that end she was a real PITA in the many classes she took from me, displaying all the usual snowflake behaviors and being very rude and aggressive when I didn't give in. EVER.

    I had been casual but good friends with this guy before. However, he began to be more and more stand-offish as his girlfriend became more and more angry that I wasn't giving her the deference/breaks/grades she felt was deserved. He once tried to confront me but I refused to speak about it, citing FERPA. (I don't know if that's a valid defense but that's what I used). We only uncomfortably talk about the weather now.

    Oddly, I'm still conflicted about it. One the one hand, I'm disgusted at the way he has always trolled the undergraduates for his love interests. It has made things uncomfortable for the other faculty and the chair on more than one occasion. He is also very open about it, taking a "yeah, I'm doing it, anybody got a PROBLEM with that?" attitude.

    However the world can be a lonely place, and if you've found someone who may be "the one" should you be denied that based on a policy? They do seem to be in love. She thinks he's brilliant and he thinks she's sexy ;-). The situation is great for them. The rest of us, not so much.

    1. She is not a colleague. Socially, she is, at most, a common-law spouse or in a somewhat similar situation. That does not change the fact that professionally, she is not a colleague. She is just a student. She should be discreet about her relationship, not ask for special privileges. Some professors who met her as a spouse may be in the embarrassing position of recognizing her in their own classroom, but other than that, she should be treated the same as any other student. If anything, a professor's spouse should be a serious student who performs reasonably well and is trying to avoid any trouble and any appearance of favoritism.

  7. While I can't usually stop the flakes from sharing their medical woes (why do they do this? Especially the birthing and aborting stories?), I would put a stop to the colleague by saying, "This makes me uncomfortable because I am friends with your wife." The student flakes will go away. The colleague, not so much. And he's an idiot if he's saying this to you knowing you're friends with his wife. That's so indiscreet. If you're going to cheat, fine, that's your business, but don't try to seek affirmation for it from a colleague who might later be called in by the Admin when a sexual harassment claim is filed.

  8. The first one is a colleague too, unfortunately. He's the executive assistant for one of our high muckety mucks and has been at the school since before I was born. All it took was one expression of sympathy and a remark that my dearly departed grandaunt also had cooties, and he glommed on like a leech. I avoid Muckety Muck's office as much as possible now, but Sheldon even emailed me a 500-word update one day during his lunch hour!

    As for #3, I deflected and tried to make a joke of it, suggesting maybe he should find another outlet as tastefully as I could. It has not come up again, thankfully, but the term isn't over yet. I fear I'll be walking in to the service week of the fall semester seeing him with the classic shit-eating grin. And then I WILL say, "I really don't want to know."

  9. You have more tact than I do. I would have said something that would get me in trouble from now until I retire. :o)


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