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How to deal with a student hitting on you?


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Old 18th April 2012, 6:44 AM   #1
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How to deal with a student hitting on you?

I work at the university and have always had students that flirted. I ignore it and they go away.

Lately, I have been doing some after-hours private tutoring for struggling students for cash. One in particular has been troublesome. I never flirt with students and am cool and professional at all times. Even if a guy is hot, I switch off in that way.

This guy has been giving me a weird vibe since day one. He would always bring me little things, like chocolates, coffee, a book etc. He also asked personal questions (if I was single), offered me rides home (I rejected)..initiated contact too much... He also stares at me weirdly... Tonight, he asked me to have dinner with him. I said that it's inappropriate and he just smiled and said "Yeah, once the semester is over, I can wait "

I have zero interest in him even if he weren't a student. To be honest, he just creeps me out.

1) Should I stop private tutorials with him (or is that too extreme)?

2) Should I ask someone (like my boss) for advice? (but then I come across as unable to handle stuff like that on my own)?

3) Should I tell the student coldly that I have no interest in him?

Help!
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Old 18th April 2012, 8:39 AM   #2
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I would go with either of the first two options. Honestly I would talk to a superior as this isn't just a normal issues. There are many things that could hurt the university and you want them to know first before any student starts to make up stories if you reject them.

Or you could just knock boots with him and hope the Mayans are right.
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Old 18th April 2012, 10:00 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eternal Sunshine View Post
1) Should I stop private tutorials with him (or is that too extreme)?

2) Should I ask someone (like my boss) for advice? (but then I come across as unable to handle stuff like that on my own)?

3) Should I tell the student coldly that I have no interest in him?

Help!
I'm just wondering how the word 'student' is being defined here. Are these students who may at some point be taught by you in a course? If so, then you really shouldn't be tutoring them at all under any circumstances, unless it's the typical office hours that are part of your contractual teaching agreement. Most universities would consider that a conflict of interest.

I'm going to assume that it's not the case and that you're just tutoring on the side (I do understand the need for cash these days, being a teacher myself). Assuming that's true, I wouldn't see the need to stop private tutoring altogether, but I would just flatly lay down the ground rules. I would tell him, you can't accept gifts and that it's an unwanted distraction. Add that you may have to ask him to find another tutor if he can't focus on his studies only.
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Old 18th April 2012, 10:07 AM   #4
 
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You're asking if you should stop tutoring him. My question is why you would continue. Is there some kind of obligation? Or are really in need of money?

Seems like a completely optional arrangement, so backing out of it seems like the simplest choice. If he wants to make a game out of it, let him learn the material some other way. Who needs the trouble?
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Old 18th April 2012, 10:40 AM   #5
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Johan, my dad is terminally ill and I am helping him cover medical costs. I need the money pretty badly.

Also, I am not the lecturer of that particular subject. My boss is. My boss knows of my situation and as a way of helping me out, he has recommeded me to anyone who asked for private tutoring ( I do know the subject material backwards though).

Also, if I were to stop mid-way through the semester, the student would most likely go to the boss and it would reflect badly on me (unless I go to the boss first).
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Old 18th April 2012, 11:06 AM   #6
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If it were me, I'd talk to my boss about my discomfort. Always CYA.

Granted, you're dealing with an adult, and I'm used to working with kids and teens (many teenage boys have said or done things that made me uncomfortable, btw, though it doesn't happen that often) but I'm a huge proponent of document, document, document.

I would never be alone with even an adult student who appeared to be acting unprofessionally. Too dangerous for reputation. What if he accuses you later when he feels rebuffed? In addition, he's technically harassing you. Also something to document. Many people who attempt to harass claim false harassment in the future, btw.
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Old 18th April 2012, 11:12 AM   #7
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Yes zengirl, the sessions with him are all conducted after 7pm (even though in my office at the university) there is usually noone around. I did ask him to switch times for 2pm next week.

I am also involved in the subject as I am teaching the computer lab sessions and will be marking assignments and exam with my boss.

He is an adult, probably late 20's but it's hard to say.

I think I should just mention this to my boss and see what he says.
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Old 18th April 2012, 11:16 AM   #8
 
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Johan, my dad is terminally ill and I am helping him cover medical costs. I need the money pretty badly.

Also, I am not the lecturer of that particular subject. My boss is. My boss knows of my situation and as a way of helping me out, he has recommeded me to anyone who asked for private tutoring ( I do know the subject material backwards though).

Also, if I were to stop mid-way through the semester, the student would most likely go to the boss and it would reflect badly on me (unless I go to the boss first).
I'm sorry to hear about your dad. A rude student is no big deal from that perspective. Just tell him firmly to knock it off. If he persists let him know the university won't tolerate students harassing instructors, and you'll have no problem escalating it. Maybe only meet with him in public places. If you have a guy friend who can be around when you're tutoring him, that would help. Maybe ask the next student to show up early, so they will be around as well.

Also, if I was your boss, I would want to know you're having to deal with this. You don't have to ask him to do anything, but just consider that he can help if it crosses a line. And if it does cross the line, he might wonder why you didn't let him know sooner.
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Old 18th April 2012, 11:51 AM   #9
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Yeah, tell the boss and see if he can find someone else to cover for that guy. And if he gets any creepier, tell school security.
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Old 18th April 2012, 12:00 PM   #10
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You could do what psychologists are trained to do when a patient shows romantic interest:

1. Tell them anything other than a professional relationship would be inappropriate, and it's important to keep things strictly professional.

2. If he still continues to flirt, tell him if he continues to make these kinds of remarks, you're going to have to refer him to another tutor.

3. If he continues, refer him to another tutor.
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Old 18th April 2012, 12:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KathyM View Post
You could do what psychologists are trained to do when a patient shows romantic interest:

1. Tell them anything other than a professional relationship would be inappropriate, and it's important to keep things strictly professional.

2. If he still continues to flirt, tell him if he continues to make these kinds of remarks, you're going to have to refer him to another tutor.

3. If he continues, refer him to another tutor.
I'm surprised it took this long for somebody to actually say, tell him.
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Old 18th April 2012, 12:17 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by KathyM View Post
You could do what psychologists are trained to do when a patient shows romantic interest:

1. Tell them anything other than a professional relationship would be inappropriate, and it's important to keep things strictly professional.

2. If he still continues to flirt, tell him if he continues to make these kinds of remarks, you're going to have to refer him to another tutor.

3. If he continues, refer him to another tutor.
Yes, but tell the boss first. This can truly backfire on a teacher or tutor who works in a uni or school setting, more than a therapist (unless the therapist works for such an institution). Always document before any kind of confrontation, even a proper one.
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Old 18th April 2012, 2:00 PM   #13
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Yes, but tell the boss first. This can truly backfire on a teacher or tutor who works in a uni or school setting, more than a therapist (unless the therapist works for such an institution). Always document before any kind of confrontation, even a proper one.
Therapists are definately taught to document everything, for their own protection, and write down how it was handled, what was said, etc. That would be a good idea for a teacher/student situation also. I would agree that running this by your supervisor about how you handled the situation would be good, in order to keep him aware of the situation, and aware that you are handling it appropriately.
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Old 18th April 2012, 7:33 PM   #14
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Thanks for the advice guys.

I will mention it to boss first and then do the steps Kathy outlined.

OK, I feel better now
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Old 18th April 2012, 7:37 PM   #15
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Sorry to hear about your dad and the money needs, btw. Stay strong!
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