BREAKING THE RULES

I teach about 45 students in my tutorial, twice a week, two hours each time. They do assignments in the tutorials in groups of four to five. As a consequence, I get to know my students well and the students in the groups get to know each other as well.

Last week, one of the groups (two guys and two girls) invited me to “high tea” at one of the group members place at T-Bird. They invited the whole class and they decided they wanted me to come along as well. I was flattered by their invitation, but I knew immediately I could not take them up on their offer. I told them it was very nice of them but I was not allowed to partake in such an event. I also told them that if I were to go, I’d be breaking some fundamental rules for TA-student relationships. I had read these rules months ago in the TA handbook for computer science. I was forced to use the Com Sci handbook because Mech is so lame ass, they don’t even have one for their TAs. Anyways, I remember reading some well laid out rules governing TA conduct. One of them was like not meeting students outside of the teaching environment. There was a specific mention of not meeting students in a private setting. I recited the rule about the private setting to my students. They seemed really interested in these rules. “Tell us more!” they said.

I think I mentioned something about maintaining a professional relationship at all times and meeting only on-campus in a TA’s office with the door open. Then I remember the whole long part about romantic relationships with your students, that is, you’re not supposed to have those. It also listed what you should do when a student makes sexual advances towards you. I decided at that point, my students would hear no more. I told them I couldn’t remember the rest of the rules off-hand. “Can you bring the whole list of rules to class next time?!?! We want to read them!” said one of the ladies. I was like, um, sure.

Over the weekend, I noticed I didn’t have the booklet handy and that it was probably underneath a pile of other papers in who-knows-where in my apartment. I then came to the conclusion that even if I did have the rules handy, it’d probably be a bad idea to give these rules out. My students probably would never break these rules in the first place, but I don’t think it helps by putting the idea in their head.

Just between you and I, there was this Econ TA I used to know. He was TAing this first year Econ course. One of his female students missed a tutorial once, so she sent him an e-mail. The gist of her message was, sorry for missing the tutorial, maybe I could “come over to your place with a bottle of wine and I can catch up?”. At the time, he was involved in a relationship with a super-fine lady, so he just ignored her. Boy, was his girlfriend not pleased at his student though.

I’m going to make something to eat.

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