Although you may have seen student-teacher relationships romanticized in various syndicated dramas, the real-life benefits of hooking up with a teacher tend to be few and far between.
Your college's representatives and staff are expected to act with professionalism. They're not supposed to show any favoritism among students — and they're certainly not supposed to do anything that could even remotely trigger a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Your college will almost certainly consider relationships between teachers and students prohibited, and, in most cases, TAs are considered teaching staff.
Wondering what the rules are about TAs in particular — or what will happen to you if you get caught hooking up with a TA? While many schools purposely keep their language a little vague so they have leeway to make a judgment call, we can do a little investigative work to learn about the potential consequences of this situation.
Let's Find Out What Happens if You Hook Up With Your TA
Examining a few codes of conduct at prominent schools in America may shed some light on this question.
- The University of Texas at Austin prohibits all relationships between “student employees and any student whom that student employee teaches…or evaluates.” Why? The University believes that romantic relationships across teacher-student roles can “undermine the essential educational purpose of the University.” If a student and TA are caught hooking up, both people may risk disciplinary outcomes, including suspension, expulsion, or termination of their teaching role.
- Yale University notes that a romantic relationship between teacher and student is inappropriate, “creates the potential for coercion,” and jeopardizes the educational processes at its institution. Yale makes it clear that “teachers” include anyone who steps into an educational role, including student TAs. Students and teachers accused of violating this rule may be subject to disciplinary action, such as mandatory course changes, increased supervision, and termination or suspension.
- At UCLA, “Any kind of socio-sexual liaison” between a student and a person in a teaching role violates the teacher's “primary professional responsibility” to the student and the academic community. Again, the people involved may risk immediate disciplinary ramifications or long-term reputation damage.
Interestingly, several of these and other schools leave room for “socio-sexual liaisons” after the faculty-student relationship has ended. However, in the cutthroat environment of many undergraduate institutions, this can still leave a student vulnerable to attacks from peers or disgruntled faculty members. Whether you have been involved with a TA or have been accused of inappropriate behavior, you need to be prepared.
Has Your School Accused You of Relationship Misconduct?
If you're facing repercussions for romantic involvement with a TA, you could risk long-term reputation damage. Even if your school doesn't levy specifically harsh sanctions against you, being associated with any form of misconduct discipline can result in a suspension (and a gap on your transcript). Alternatively, if someone suggests that you received preferential treatment affecting your academic performance due to a relationship with a TA, your grades and reputation could be questioned. Either way, you need someone to represent your interests. Call Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team today for a consultation. The number is 888-535-3686, or you can always reach us online.