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How Should Professors Deal With Flirtatious Students?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jun 19, 2022 | 0 Comments

We hear all the time about inappropriate, flirty college professors. That kind of story is headline-worthy. Flirty students, though, are common too, maybe more common than we realize. According to one study by a Kansas University researcher, men only recognize flirting about thirty-six percent of the time. The number for women is even lower, at eighteen percent. That means a student could be flirting with you, and you might never even be aware.

What do you do about an overly flirty student? You definitely don't ignore it. Colleges and universities take “inappropriate” faculty-student relationships very seriously these days, and even the appearance of impropriety could put your career in jeopardy. That could be true even if you did nothing overtly wrong.

Modeling Boundaries

If you're a professor who cares about your students, you may be reticent to draw attention to what you perceive as flirty behavior. For one thing, you might be misreading the situation. Students from other countries are sometimes overly deferential and overly polite to instructors, and this may seem like flirting. Beyond this, though, you never want to embarrass or shame a student if you can help it.

One potential solution to a flirty student, one that doesn't risk hurting their feelings, is to model appropriate behavior. If you feel like an email is overly friendly, make sure your response is brief, to the point, and professional.

If this fails, you might also try addressing the issue in class by putting together a mini-lesson on email, or even classroom, etiquette. Hopefully, this will help you get through to the student, but it certainly won't hurt any of your students to get a basic primer on these subjects.

Documenting Concerns

Another important thing to do in these situations is document what's happening. The earlier in the exchange you begin documenting the students' behavior, the better. The longer you allow flirting to continue, the greater the likelihood that it will continue or escalate. Worse, you could make yourself vulnerable to blackmail simply for not having put a stop to the situation sooner.

You don't necessarily have to go to your department chair about what's happening. Telling a colleague, though, and asking them to create a written record of what's happening, can protect you later, should the problem escalate.

What to Do if You're Accused

You want to believe the best about your students, but when something of value, like grades, is at stake, you can never be certain just what they might do. Whether you find you're a target for a blackmail scheme or you're simply the victim of an honest misunderstanding, don't let an accusation derail your future. Contact an attorney who has experience dealing with campus judicial procedures to find out how to defend yourself.

Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who built his career defending rights in the field of education across the United States. To find out how he can help you, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.

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