Hurriqueen: Professor partying a problem?

Dear Hurriqueen,

This year has been very interesting on the party circuit. There has been a young UM professor partying with plenty of students, some underage, many of which he/she could end up teaching. Is this crossing any lines? Should a teacher be hanging out with students? 

~Uncomfortable Student 

Dear Reader,

Inevitably, some professors end up teaching special students a thing or two outside of the classroom. The University of Miami Faculty Manual and Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook both refer to such romantic and sexual situations as amorous relationships, “where one of the parties (the senior party) has academic, administrative or other evaluative authority over the other (the junior party).” Both documents make it clear that the university views amorous relationships as highly problematic situations that both faculty and students should avoid. 

But what about the professor that isn’t one of your potential love interests but rather the dude or chick getting low next to you at the club? This queen searched both the Faculty Manual and the Student Handbook to find policies that prohibit professors from socializing with or near students off-campus and at non-university events. Unfortunately, neither document provides specifics on such situations.

However, this university has your back if the professor gets naughty. If at any point the professor in question were to become romantically or sexually involved with a student registered in his or her class, he or she would be responsible for taking “whatever steps are necessary to ensure that they do not simultaneously have evaluative authority and an amorous relationship.” In other words, this professor can’t be hooking up with students and be the one assigning their grades. Like, duh, that’s not fair. The professor would have to inform his or her department of the relationship. If this step isn’t taken, the university can take disciplinary action against the professor.

Of course, official policies aren’t always needed to determine what’s right from wrong. Everyone knows it would be illegal for the professor to provide underage students with alcohol or use his authoritative position as leverage to receive sexual favors from your friends. If this is the case or if the professor has broken a policy previously discussed, please contact one of the following: Office of the appropriate Dean, the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs, or the Office of the Ombudsperson.  

Otherwise, if the professor means no harm, let it be. They can’t spend their entire careers avoiding social settings because students might be present. Furthermore, it’s Miami. Everyone is entitled to the nightlife.



The Hurriqueen

September 22, 2008


The Hurriqueen

Advice Columnist

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