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Tips for Graduate Teaching Assistants

Note: These tips are provided as general guidance and may not apply in every situation. If you are unsure of how to handle a situation, OIE is happy to provide assistance!

  • Read the University’s Policy for Management of Personal Conflicts of Interest. Remember, you can’t date or be in a romantic/sexual relationship with a student you teach, supervise, or evaluate.
  • If you are already in a romantic relationship with a student before the semester starts, do inform your supervisor and work with him/her to avoid any potential conflict of interest.
  • Be cautious about requesting your students as friends on Facebook, Instagram, or other social networking sites. If one of your students requests you as a friend, consider waiting until the end of the semester.
  • Avoid texting/calling students on their personal cell numbers unless it is class-related and s/he has provided it for this purpose, even if the number is in a public directory.
  • Avoid asking your students personal questions, such as whether they are single, details about their romantic relationships, or where they socialize outside of class. Do ask education-related questions, such as about learning style or their interest in the subject.
  • Avoid talking about your personal life with your students, such your dating status. Do share information about what inspired you to be a graduate student in your field.
  • Be cautious about giving your students gifts or accepting gifts from your students.
  • Avoid commenting on your students’ appearance or dress. Even a simple compliment such as telling a student s/he looks nice could be interpreted as romantic interest. Do share encouraging statements that are education related, such as, “Great job on that project!”
  • Avoid touching your students. A hug, touch on the shoulder, or pat on the knee can be interpreted as romantic interest.
  • Be cautious about holding office hours/study groups at your home or places with alcohol. Do be accessible and offer flexibility, such as multiple on-campus, daytime options.
  • Be cautious about asking your students to socialize outside of class. Even asking a student to coffee can be perceived as a request for a date. If a student asks to meet for an education-related purpose, consider meeting with the student during the day at an on- campus location, such as in your office with the door open.