Hey, Everybody: A few weeks ago, Giddy Schoolgirl wrote me about a crush she
had on a 31-year-old TA (teaching assistant) at her university, and said she
was reluctant to fuck him for fear of getting her TA into “deep shit.” I advised
the 18-year-old to fuck her 31-year-old TA, pointing out that the promise of
hot sex with sub-literate undergrads was about the only thing that kept low-paying
TAs on the job.
(For readers unfamiliar with the current state of higher education: The actual
teaching at our colleges and universities is done by students working on their
master’s degrees or doctoral dissertations. Meanwhile, university professors,
to the delight of The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page, spend their
time writing and re-writing their grant applications for Strategic Defense Initiative
(SDI, a.k.a. Star Wars) contracts. Profs in disciplines that don’t lend themselves
to anti-ballistic missile...
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...Star Wars) contracts. Profs in disciplines that don’t lend themselves
to anti-ballistic missile laser technology — English, philosophy, reality —
busy themselves with pointless conferences, imagined slights, and day trading.)
I’m dedicating this week’s column to responses from outraged TAs for two reasons:
First, it’s timely. Ross (David Schwimmer) on NBC’s Friends has been
carrying on a sexual relationship with a student at the unnamed university where
he works. Second, fucking students is obviously an issue that concerns a great
many TAs. If you miserable TAs put half as much effort into your dissertations
as you did into outraged letters to sex columnists, you would be finished with
your dissertations already and wouldn’t be miserable TAs anymore. Perhaps I
shouldn’t complain: Thanks to outraged TAs, I don’t have much work to do this
week. Edit their work down, stick my name on it, take the credit… hey, this
must be what it feels like to be a tenured professor!
As a former TA, the answer to Giddy Schoolgirl’s question —
“Could sleeping with my TA get him into deep shit?” is YES. And forget about
keeping it a secret; when you look up “fishbowl” in the dictionary, there’s
a picture of a graduate student lounge. And Dan, does Giddy Schoolgirl want
to start down the path of screwing older men who have power over her? This particular
authority figure may be a hottie, but 10 years from now, does she want to be
lying on her back on the conference table underneath the fat, balding, 45-year-old
director of purchasing for the company she works for?
Appalled with Two P’s
I don’t want to be overly critical, AWTP, but that when-you-look-up-X-in-the-dictionary-there’s-a-picture-of-Y
line is really tired. Clichéd, overused, played out. If I were grading
your letter, you would lose points. And there are people out there who find
fat, balding, 45-year-old authority figures desperately attractive. If there
weren’t, how would priests and police officers ever get laid?
To quote from the faculty handbook of the school where I teach:
“It is considered a serious breach of professional ethics for a member of the
faculty to initiate or acquiesce in a sexual relationship with a student who
is enrolled in a course being taught by the faculty member.” The handbook notes
that the term “faculty member” includes “graduate students with teaching responsibilities.”
If Giddy Schoolgirl’s school policy is like my school’s, once the semester is
over she can tell the TA how much she enjoyed the course, and how much she’d
like to fuck his brains out–assuming, of course, that she has no plans to take
another course with this TA.
Thanks, professor. Hey, how’s that SDI grant application coming along?
Let me tell you, Mr. Savage, in academia today, being caught in a relationship
with a current student would send your entire career down the drain. You’d never
get hired for a university job again. Plus, there is the matter of that pesky
age difference. As in GS’s case, I am 31 and my students are mostly 18. When
I was 18, I sometimes thought my TAs were attractive, and I can imagine projecting
that back onto the TAs and thinking that if I find them cute, they might find
me cute. And if you have never taught younger students, you might go through
life thinking that TAs are attracted to their students.
Au contraire. When you are a 31-year-old TA, and your students are 18,
they look like babies–far too young even to be very sexually interesting (let
alone intellectually interesting). The fact is, I have been teaching for years,
and I don’t know of any fellow TA who has ever had a relationship/fling with
a current student, and in reality it happens a lot less than it does on Buffy
the Vampire Slayer or in the minds of sex columnists.
Not Getting Any at Work
Let me tell you, Mr. Snotty McSnot, that when I find time to fantasize about
sex, TAs rarely come to mind. Au contraire! My God, why would anyone fantasize
about broke grad students with bags under their eyes and half-finished dissertations
in their studio apartments when we can fantasize about Richard Lazio? Or the
oldest Hanson brother–the tall, bony-faced one–who is a lot foxier these days
than either of his dough-faced younger brothers? Or, if I did stoop to a college
fantasy, why bother with TAs when there are row teams and frat brothers and
custodians out there?
And, hey, NGAAW, if TAs rarely sleep with their students, why do colleges
and universities go out of their way to forbid this shameful practice in their
You are wrong, wrong, wrong about the benefits of teaching assistantships
including opportunities for sexual relationships with students. The situation
you described was a 31-year-old, responsible for grading and advising on work
produced by an 18-year-old. The potential for abuse and exploitation in these
situations is just too high. You often call experts; this was one time when
you should have picked up the phone and spoken to someone at a university.
Dana Buntrock, Assistant Professor
University of Illinois at Chicago
It had occurred to me to speak with someone at a university, Dana, so I called
my older brother, who teaches at a prestigious university that he would prefer
I not name. Let’s just say that it’s located next to a large body of fresh water
NORTH of Costa Rica, WEST of the Ural Mountains, and, as my brother wishes to
be cremated when he dies, one day his ashes will be placed in a lovely URN.
So, like, anyway, I did call my brother before I advised Giddy Schoolgirl
to fuck her TA’s brains out. Guess what? He didn’t call me back for three weeks!
You see, in his experience, writing is done at a glacial pace. It took him 34
years to write his dissertation (“The Future Socialist Utopia: Or the Coming
Collapse of World Capitalism and the Ultimate Triumph of the Soviet System”),
so he was unfamiliar with the concept of “deadlines.” Left high and dry by my
own flesh and blood (when you look up “deadline” in the dictionary, you won’t
find a picture of my brother), I had no choice but to hastily draft some twaddle.
Now, three weeks later, my brother calls me back. His advice for Giddy Schoolgirl?
Never, ever sleep with a TA. So, to Giddy Schoolgirl, if you’re out there reading
this: Put the TA down, back away from the TA, and come out with your pants up.
Write to Dan!
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