Author Topic: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?  (Read 5568 times)

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Adelaide

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Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« on: January 28, 2013, 11:29:38 PM »
I'm going to keep things as general as possible, because I'm asking this question for a friend (who is watching me type). Say you have a young Professor who teaches college courses and a college-aged Student. Student takes one of Professor's courses and remains friendly with Professor. Student discovers an interest in the subject to the point of wanting to pursue it in further schooling. Student requests a letter of recommendation from Professor. After moving away from school and then moving back afterward, Student begins dating said Professor. Acceptable? Unacceptable? Is this a bright-line rule, that one shouldn't date any person that has previously been used as a professional reference?

Yvaine

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2013, 11:37:15 PM »
I would say that now that the student no longer attends the college, they can date.

I don't think it retroactively makes it unethical for Student to have used Professor's recommendation letter in the past, before they started dating. However, Student should not use Professor's recommendation anymore when applying for future schooling/jobs. It would look really biased even if written before the relationship.

I don't know what a career counselor would say, but that's my instinct.

Lynn2000

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2013, 11:47:46 PM »
I agree with Yvaine.
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Lynnv

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2013, 11:50:24 PM »
I agree with Yvaine.

Me too.   Continuing to use the reference would be an issue.  But dating a former reference wouldn't even be on my radar as a potential problem. 
Lynn

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Adelaide

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2013, 11:54:27 PM »
Said student doesn't need Professor's reference anymore so that wouldn't be an issue, but is more concerned about other professors/people at the university and what their thoughts on the matter would be.

(At my old university, one of the professors married a student and everybody talked about it-the whole thing was quite the source of gossip.)

Auntie Mame

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2013, 11:55:07 PM »
If I understand this. They are 1) both consenting adults and 2) said friend is no longer the professors student. If that is correct I don't see any problems with the scenario.

Your friend should stop using Thar professor as a reference however.  Other than that, I fail to see any issues.
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CluelessBride

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2013, 12:01:05 AM »
I also agree with Yvaine. Especially since enough time has passed for Student to move away and move back.

That said, I do think you have to be somewhat more careful with how you publicly present your romantic relationship if it began as a mentor/mentee relationship. That doesn't mean you shouldn't have the relationship, you just need to be more aware about it.

While I was typing, you updated with this:

Said student doesn't need Professor's reference anymore so that wouldn't be an issue, but is more concerned about other professors/people at the university and what their thoughts on the matter would be.

(At my old university, one of the professors married a student and everybody talked about it-the whole thing was quite the source of gossip.)

This is what I mean about being aware of the public face of their private relationship. I have a friend who married a teacher whom she met while student teaching. They were very careful to be both discrete and open at the same time. That is they were incredibly professional at work and extra conscientious about PDA (even things like hand holding)  even when they weren't at work. But at the same time, they didn't try to deny the relationship or come up with excuses if they were spotted together.

Lynn2000

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2013, 12:10:53 AM »
Said student doesn't need Professor's reference anymore so that wouldn't be an issue, but is more concerned about other professors/people at the university and what their thoughts on the matter would be.

(At my old university, one of the professors married a student and everybody talked about it-the whole thing was quite the source of gossip.)

It sounds like it's been a while since the student even was a student, so as long as they don't have any other relationship besides dating (like boss/employee) it shouldn't technically be a problem. People will gossip about whatever they want, though. The university I work at is very large and I know of several instances where something like this has happened, including things that are much more grey-area like a professor and their current (grad) student dating. Obviously people talk about it because they've told me, but it's really more of a blip than a source of endless speculation and entertainment.
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katycoo

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2013, 01:00:05 AM »
As long as they are not still using the reference, I see no problem.

CaffeineKatie

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2013, 08:32:25 AM »
I agree with the other responses, and would add, as a long-time faculty wife, OF COURSE people will gossip about a professor and a former student--that's what university communities do.  And don't give it another thought--another "scandal" will come along after a week or two and get everybody buzzing about that.

Twik

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2013, 09:47:58 AM »
I agree - as long as the reference was not obtained or used while the student and teacher were romantically involved, there was nothing wrong.

With regards to gossip in the faculty, the poet Piet Hein had advice about dealing with "scandals" such as these:

Some people cower
and wince and shrink,
owing to the fear of
what people may think.
There is one answer
to worries like these:
people may think
what the devil they please.
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Hmmmmm

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2013, 10:03:21 AM »
I'm a little confused why this would even appear to be an issue.

Is Student still employed by the company where she used the Proffessor as a reference?  Is her concern that the employer will think she only got the reference because of a personal relationship?  If so, how long has it been since the reference and them now dating.

bah12

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2013, 10:36:08 AM »
I'm a little confused why this would even appear to be an issue.

Is Student still employed by the company where she used the Proffessor as a reference?  Is her concern that the employer will think she only got the reference because of a personal relationship?  If so, how long has it been since the reference and them now dating.

I was wondering the same thing.  As with any personal relationship that overlaps a professional one (is this even the case here?), they need to be discreet...separating the two.  As long as she doesn't continue to use him as a reference, I don't see a problem.  I also don't see why she would discuss her personal life at work unless it's absolutely necessary.   While I see absolutely no problem with her bringing him to work functions as her date and being open about her relationship if asked about it (because someone saw them together), outside of that, there's no need for this subject to even come up. 

Adelaide

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2013, 02:43:52 PM »
It's been a year and a half since Student has taken Professor's class. Student has since moved on to graduate school, not work. Student hung around in Professor's department Student's entire last year (Student was friendly with other faculty members/took their classes) and is afraid they will think that Student and Professor were involved while Student was taking the class.  Student's academic career wouldn't suffer any detriment, but Student doesn't want to cause a stir among Professor's colleagues. Because of the small size of the department this would be something that came up eventually-people talk.

I realize this isn't a cut-and-dried protocol issue (as would be the case of "Don't date someone whose class you are actively in" or "Don't use someone as a professional reference that you are dating") but my friend wanted me to ask if there were any perspectives against it since said friend knows that I'm on an etiquette board.

bah12

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Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2013, 03:01:18 PM »
It's been a year and a half since Student has taken Professor's class. Student has since moved on to graduate school, not work. Student hung around in Professor's department Student's entire last year (Student was friendly with other faculty members/took their classes) and is afraid they will think that Student and Professor were involved while Student was taking the class.  Student's academic career wouldn't suffer any detriment, but Student doesn't want to cause a stir among Professor's colleagues. Because of the small size of the department this would be something that came up eventually-people talk.I realize this isn't a cut-and-dried protocol issue (as would be the case of "Don't date someone whose class you are actively in" or "Don't use someone as a professional reference that you are dating") but my friend wanted me to ask if there were any perspectives against it since said friend knows that I'm on an etiquette board.

This is something she should discuss with her SO.  They did nothing wrong.  If he feels that he can handle office gossip and isn't worried that the gossip would put a cloud over his career, then she can rest easy.  I don't think, though, that this is something she should handle on her own.  They are both in the relationship and the consequences seem to fall more on him.  She can tell him what she's worried about and then they can make a decision together.  But, if he's good with it, I think she should stop worrying about it too.