November 11, 2005

Q&A: I’m Having Sex With My Teacher

I am currently having sex with a professor. How can I get it to stop with jeopardizing my grade?

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Question: I am currently having sex with a professor. I know this is not a very good idea but the professor is helping me with my grades for sexual pleasure. What should I do? How can I get it to stop with jeopardizing my grade?

I’m sorry to hear that you’ve found yourself in such a difficult situation. Sexual experiences between teachers and their current students are rarely discussed, so we don’t have reliable information about how common such relationships are or how these relationships are typically negotiated.

Sometimes, these relationships are based on mutual romantic or sexual interest, and both partners WANT to be involved. In other cases, one partner might feel liking or attraction, and the other partner might have become involved for other reasons, like a grade, as you mentioned.

Talk To A Counselor

If you would like to talk with someone objective about this situation, consider making an appointment with a counselor on or off campus. Aside from being professionally trained to handle these types of issues, counselors offer confidential services. If you have questions about the level of confidentiality that a counselor can assure you, ask him or her to explain the confidentiality policy.

You might also consider meeting confidentially with someone in your on-campus student advocates, student ethics or affirmative action office. In this way, you can learn more about campus policies related to sexual relationships between students and professors, your rights as a student and what can be done if you want to end the sexual relationship. They can also serve as your advocate if you want to change the situation but are concerned about what might happen to your grades or academic standing if you speak up.

Ethical Guidelines

Even though students have a responsibility to act professionally in (and out of) the classrooms, professors do too. Professors are often bound by ethical guidelines as well as university policies that place restrictions on sexual relationships with current students.

Because of the mixing of roles and power, the relationship is not equal even if teachers and students are of a similar age and intelligence because the faculty has authority and power over the student in classes. Thus, if something goes wrong in the relationship, how will that affect class performance or grades?

If the relationship is good, how can the professor be fair in evaluating the student? In what position does this put other students? And if other faculty find out, how will they view the student’s abilities and grades, and will they make assumptions (or have similar expectations) about the student?

Hard To Keep Secrets

It can be difficult to keep these relationships completely secret, and there is a lot to think about. Unfortunately, that often only happens after a relationship has dissolved or hurtfully ended.

Sometimes students in these situations might feel powerless or concerned that their professor will “get back” at them for stopping the relationship. If you feel this way, it might be particularly important for you to meet with a counselor or someone from a campus office who can help you learn more about your rights and how to protect yourself academically.

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