Student-professor relationships grow outside classroom

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Published 2012-02-27T20:46:00Z”/>


Cammi Carter

Despite long-held beliefs, teachers do not actually live in their classrooms.

In a place where the age difference between professors and students can be as little as a few years, college students often have very different perceptions about whether or not it is acceptable to hang out with their professors when class is over.

Friendship between faculty and students is fine as long as it doesn’t create a problem with the student’s academics or incite any bias, according to the faculty personnel policies and procedures.

Michael Blair, a junior political science major, is comfortable with hanging out with teachers outside of the classroom. Blair is an intern at the Community Legal Information Center, an off-campus office that offers legal advice. He enjoys hanging out with the teachers who are involved with CLIC at work.

“I definitely think it will help a student more in class having a connection with a teacher,” Blair said. “It shows you’re more willing to learn the subject.”

Having a relationship with a student can encourage a person to be well-rounded, said David Brown, the geological and environmental sciences department chair. He enjoys the camaraderie provided by “mutual recreational activities” with some of his students.

“When you are straining on workouts together, it’s a good way to support one another,” Brown said.

The interaction can sometimes be perceived as advising, as opposed to a full-on friendship, Brown said.

The more you get to know your teacher, the more you get comfortable asking questions, said Karen Galvan, a freshman biology major.

Junior history major Emily Gonzales is not comfortable hanging out with teachers outside of class, she said.

“I’m not comfortable knowing them on that personal level,” Gonzales said. “It wouldn’t feel comfortable outside of the classroom.”

There is a stigma with such relationships, but it shouldn’t prevent student-teacher fellowship, said Timothy Sistrunk, a professor of history.

If a student was currently in Sistrunk’s class, he probably wouldn’t be friends with them, he said. But if they happened to meet outside of class in a context where he was a private person, he would be fine with becoming friends.

“It’s not that dramatic,” Sistrunk said. “You can certainly be friends.”

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<strong>Cammi Carter can be reached at</strong>

<em>[email protected]</em>

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