Sex for Good Recs

We really shouldn’t put up with this from our students–it’s a serious problem. Matt points me to an article on the rising tide of sexual favors in exchange for good course evals. When I started out I was pretty naive. Sure, students leered at me a bit, and that made me a little uncomfortable. When I went into a lecture hall, it seemed like their eyes were all over me. And then the suggestive comments: “Dr. Halavais, we really like your class, but you know, your evals would improve if you made your self a bit more available.”

I myself have managed to avoid trading in my innocence for a slightly higher evaluation, but when I see my colleagues do it, it saddens me. After all, I spend all this time trying to write good lectures and come up with interesting assignments, only to have Little Prof. Thing down the hall show up to class in shorts–all charm and flirt–sleeping their way to tenure.

We are not meat. There needs to be some clear lines drawn when there is such a strong power dynamic. These students hold our future in their hands, and it’s too easy for them to abuse this power.

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6 Comments

  1. TheOnion?
    Posted 6/30/2006 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry, is your post supposed to be a hoax as well? I’m confused.

  2. Posted 7/1/2006 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    TheOnion: Too many students have thrown themselves at Alex… I’ve seen it and frankly, I don’t know how he puts up with the pressure. And it’s not just college girls, but some of the jocks as well. They must really be attracted to his child-like coyness combined with his highly-matured intellect. That’s a definite cocktail for disaster. He gets good evals, so I think he must have made some people happy. Are you still confused? Shall I go on…?

  3. Brenda
    Posted 7/1/2006 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard that RateMyProfessors.com is being used to track down the most vunerable of faculty–those untenured potential eval-whores who are padding their chili pepper ratings to get more attention …

  4. Posted 7/1/2006 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    I believe it’s far past time for us to demand an investigation that will eventually die by committee. Further, I believe we need to hire consultants at high prices to tell us things that we already know, and to compare education to the fast food industry.

  5. Lou
    Posted 7/2/2006 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure if the original post here is to be taken as factual or tongue-in-cheek. However, speaking from my own experience as a one-semester teaching assistant for an undergraduate political science class, I was both physically threatened (by a male wrestler) and propositioned (by a female first-year) during the course of that semester, all in the name of grades. This occurred two decades ago.

  6. Posted 7/2/2006 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Lou, I’m afraid that’s par for the course in most universities. I’ve had my life threatened and been sexually propositioned several times. More frightening than both, though, is threats of false reports of sexual misconduct, something that faculty have to deal with less frequently, but are in many ways more serious. Accusations alone can ruin careers.

    All that said, it’s clear that the power dynamic remains unbalanced in the hands of the teachers, and in my experience, it is not uncommon for teachers to abuse that dynamic.

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