Affairs Between College Students and Professors: No Big Deal or Completely Unethical?

As a teacher, my opinion is that this is totally unethical from the point of view of the professor. The professor is in a position of power over the student, this means that any relationship with the student is unethical, not to mention potentially unfair to the student and to other students in the class.

By this I mean there will always be a question in the mind of the student of " Did I really earn that grade or did I just recieve the grade because the professor was worried I might tell someone about the relationship? or did I get the grade because he/she likes me?" The other worry the student may have is "Do I get marked harder because the professor is worried that other students might believe that I may be favoured?"

In terms of the other students they may rightly or wrongly believe that the student is favoured and it could effect the way that they think about the professor and their course. It is a lose/lose situation for all!

Finally, when a person becomes a teacher of someone else there is a power differential created and this makes it inapropriate for there to be a relationship between the two people.

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maven101 7 years ago from Northern Arizona

I totally agree...It is a sin of commission, a highly unethical abuse of power, and brings into question the personal integrity of all teachers..

As a former teacher I learned early on that while you had favorites, those that did the work, you always graded with a blind eye. Praise in public, criticize in private.


Leta S 7 years ago

I followed Maven over here... And while I agree with the basic premise in general, power, etc., life does not always follow a logistical pattern. I had an affair with a prof. when I was an undergrad--pretty much always an 'A' student I was not worried about a grade or favoritism. Also, he was only 9 years older than I was & as I was always independent, etc., I never felt much in common with my fellow 22 year old students. I had one class under him--afterwards, a 2 year relationship. I feel like my life would have been much less the richer without the relationship. A beginning class in speech? Who cares. What I'm saying is that ethics in all cases are not so cut and dried.


not important 4 years ago

I was accused of having an affair with a professor of mine, and my entire seminar group believed that was how I was getting my high grades in the course.

Now, I was (and still am) incredibly attracted to him, and over the years have developed quite strong feelings for him, but he's a married man and I would never do any such thing.

How he felt about me, I don't know, but our interactions certainly led to the incorrect assumption that we were having an affair. And hey, if he had met his wife a year or so later (they married a year before we met) then maybe we would have been sleeping together, but the truth is that we weren't and it still negatively affected me.

I'm supportive of any relationship, but people will always talk, and their talking can be harsh. You just need a thick skin for dealing with those around you and open lines of communication between you and your partner. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what other people think.

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