Author Topic: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?  (Read 6283 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Dr. F.

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 919
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2013, 03:30:14 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.

As an academic and soon-to-be Dept. Chair (yikes!), this doesn't even raise an eyebrow. There was no overlap in personal/professional relationships. The vast majority of academics met their partners at work in some way or another, so long as there's no evidence of actual impropriety, I don't see this as a problem for either of them.

Twik

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 28641
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2013, 03:39:23 PM »
On the other hand, I got some snarky comments when I started dating the instructor of my non-credit, totally for fun, Gaelic class.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

gramma dishes

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8187
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2013, 03:53:57 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.    ...

Okay, let me see if I'm following this.

1.  Student had class with Professor X.
2.  Student completed class and completed educational requirements for bachelor's degree.
3.  Student requested recommendation from Professor X to get into graduate school.
4.  Student hung out a lot with Professor X and other of his colleagues a lot last year on campus in or near Professor X's office.
5.  Now graduate student is dating Professor X.

As long as the reference was written PRIOR to their romantic relationship and she will never be taking another class ever with him as her teacher (and the one evaluating her work), I think they're good.

Will there be some gossip?  Probably.  If either of the two are approached about it just say truthfully, "Yes, actually we just started dating three weeks ago (or whatever is factually correct there)."  That's enough truthful information to establish the appropriate timeline.  As CaffeineKatie says, next week the gossip mongers will have moved on to someone else.

bopper

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12414
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2013, 04:02:08 PM »
Also I am assuming Professor X is single?

Adelaide

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 953
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2013, 06:28:26 PM »
Professor X is single, and the letter was written prior to any romantic involvement.

delabela

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 589
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2013, 12:53:09 AM »
Certainly doesn't seem that there is anything inappropriate in this scenario.

In reality, there probably will be gossip.  There's just gossip in most work environments.  That's not necessarily good or bad.  They just have to decide if they are willing to ignore that. 

Hmmmmm

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6558
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2013, 10:46:13 AM »
I'm not familiar with the social norms of academia. But in a corporate world, it would be frowned upon for a manager/executive to date someone in his or her department who is at a lower level, even if the person does not report into the manager's line of responsibility.

It's not unheard of or even specifically prohibited in my company. But it is known that it is not the best career move.

katycoo

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3803
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2013, 06:23:06 PM »
I'm not familiar with the social norms of academia. But in a corporate world, it would be frowned upon for a manager/executive to date someone in his or her department who is at a lower level, even if the person does not report into the manager's line of responsibility.

It's not unheard of or even specifically prohibited in my company. But it is known that it is not the best career move.

Not once they're not at the same company it isn't.  I do't think corporate and academia can be compared in this instance.

blarg314

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8506
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2013, 07:12:58 PM »

I'm in academia. And I married a collaborator.  :)

In a situation like this, I think they're fine as far as ethics go. The relationship started after the course ended, and the professor is not currently in a position supervising her.  There's generally no official barrier about dating between ranks or at the same rank, but the senior person should not be in a supervisory position (teaching, supervising, sitting on a thesis committee, evaluating proposals, writing references) and should excuse themselves from things like proposal evaluation committees or hiring discussions when their SO is being discussed. In the same department, they need to be a bit careful about passing information between levels - there's stuff that a faculty member hears about, for example, that a student isn't supposed to know.

However, I would also expect some gossip/eye rolling over the situation that will eventually fade The older male professor dating a much younger female student/former student is a bit of a cliche in academia, sort of like the stereotype of a guy going through a mid life crisis, buying a sports car and going after girls half his age. If the professor and the student don't make a habit of this, the gossip will die down fairly soon, though.

Hmmmmm

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6558
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2013, 07:55:51 PM »
I'm not familiar with the social norms of academia. But in a corporate world, it would be frowned upon for a manager/executive to date someone in his or her department who is at a lower level, even if the person does not report into the manager's line of responsibility.

It's not unheard of or even specifically prohibited in my company. But it is known that it is not the best career move.

Not once they're not at the same company it isn't.  I do't think corporate and academia can be compared in this instance.

Sorry, I must have misunderstood.  I thought she was a graduate student at the same university and in the same department as the professor.

CluelessBride

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1647
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #25 on: January 30, 2013, 08:27:04 PM »
Is Professor X tenured? Not that it should matter, but image can sometimes really matter in tenure proceedings. If he's up for tenure review soon, it might not be the best career move - even though I don't think there is anything wrong with it.

Adelaide

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 953
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #26 on: January 30, 2013, 09:12:39 PM »
However, I would also expect some gossip/eye rolling over the situation that will eventually fade The older male professor dating a much younger female student/former student is a bit of a cliche in academia, sort of like the stereotype of a guy going through a mid life crisis, buying a sports car and going after girls half his age. If the professor and the student don't make a habit of this, the gossip will die down fairly soon, though.

I actually haven't mentioned any sexes/genders, I think people just assumed it was an older man and a younger woman. Does it make any difference what the sexes/genders are?

blarg314

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8506
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2013, 04:34:22 AM »
However, I would also expect some gossip/eye rolling over the situation that will eventually fade The older male professor dating a much younger female student/former student is a bit of a cliche in academia, sort of like the stereotype of a guy going through a mid life crisis, buying a sports car and going after girls half his age. If the professor and the student don't make a habit of this, the gossip will die down fairly soon, though.

I actually haven't mentioned any sexes/genders, I think people just assumed it was an older man and a younger woman. Does it make any difference what the sexes/genders are?

It does for how people view it, even if it shouldn't.   The older male professor dating a younger student is much  more common that the other way around (female professor dating a male student ten years or more her junior).  There's also the stereotype of the male professor shopping around for pretty young girls in his classes, or female students pursuing their older male professors, which doesn't exist in reverse, and that's what I think would cause a bit of eye rolling.

The same gender version is statistically much rarer (lower percentage of people in the first place), plus in the past (and present, in some places) it would not necessarily be a good idea professionally for a professor to be out of the closet to the point of dating in the department.

Lynn2000

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5360
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2013, 11:03:53 AM »
However, I would also expect some gossip/eye rolling over the situation that will eventually fade The older male professor dating a much younger female student/former student is a bit of a cliche in academia, sort of like the stereotype of a guy going through a mid life crisis, buying a sports car and going after girls half his age. If the professor and the student don't make a habit of this, the gossip will die down fairly soon, though.

I actually haven't mentioned any sexes/genders, I think people just assumed it was an older man and a younger woman. Does it make any difference what the sexes/genders are?

I don't think it makes a difference. As blarg314 says the older male professor-younger female student is a cliche of academia (seen it happen several times myself). If it were a rarer combination (older female/younger male, or same sex couple) there might be proportionally more gossip just because of the novelty. However, I don't think that changes the fact that the relationship should technically be fine, provided limits like blarg314 mentioned (not sharing privileged information, for example) were in place.
~Lynn2000

mmswm

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2259
Re: Would this scenario be frowned upon/seen as unprofessional?
« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2013, 12:55:42 PM »
As a former academic, this wouldn't even cause me to pause, let alone expend enough energy to raise an eyebrow.

On an aside, one of the couples I used to work with had a similar beginning.  She was a student in his class.  They started dating roughly 30 seconds after he turned his grades in for that term. They continued to date while she finished her AA, then her BS.  They got married.  She finished her MS and her Ph.D. She got a job in the same department, but different campus.  She wound up transferring to the same campus.  He became department chair.  He retired.  Now she's the department chair. They've been married almost 40 years now.  I'm quite certain that they faced an enormous amount of gossip throughout the years, but they were very careful that they made their relationship transparent enough that the ethics of their personal and professional lives could never be legitimately called into question.
Some people lift weights.  I lift measures.  It's a far more esoteric workout. - (Quoted from a personal friend)