There must have been a time in your life when you had a crush on a teacher or a lecturer. You would try to think of any excuse just for a bit of extra interaction with the educator you felt so attracted to. You would even get the sudden urge to ask for extra classes and if that didn’t work, extra homework would do too. But what happens when the roles are reversed and the lecturer or teacher is looking at you and thinking “How edible…”.

MASENTLE NTHOLENG

There must have been a time in your life when you had a crush on a teacher or a lecturer. You would try to think of any excuse just for a bit of extra interaction with the educator you felt so attracted to. You would even get the sudden urge to ask for extra classes and if that didn’t work, extra homework would do too. But what happens when the roles are reversed and the lecturer or teacher is looking at you and thinking “How edible…”.

Teacher-student relationships have been around since the beginning of educational institutions. Hollywood has managed to exploit this scandalous part of the education system, It is a pretty safe bet that any show featuring adults and teenagers in an academic environment will explore a romantic relationship between a teacher and a student at some point.

More outrage tends to occur when a male teacher engages in an illicit sexual affair with a younger female student, rather than the other way round. This can probably explained by the worrying generalisation that only men can be sexual predators. It also seems to be a trend that, should a female teacher engage with a student, she will be far more attractive than the average female. This can make you wonder: are less attractive female teachers less inclined to initiate such an affair?

One of the most famous student-teacher affairs is that of Mary Kay Letourneau. She served seven years in prison for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old boy, Vili Fualaau. Four months after her arrest in 1997, Letourneau (who was 34 at the time and married with four children) gave birth to a little girl. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 89 months of imprisonment.

Her sentence was soon suspended on the condition that she stay away from Fualaau after her release. As soon as she was released, she was discovered in a car with Vili and was promptly re-arrested to serve the rest of her seven-and-a-half-year sentence. While in prison, wardens soon discovered that she was pregnant with Fualaau’s second child.

After she had served her sentence, she co-authored a book with her child lover, titled Only One Crime, Love. Following on from this, the year 2000 marked the release of their questionable love story on film under the title All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story.

Rositta Mbanze, a third-year BA student, shared her story of a teacher trying to pursue a relationship with her. “It is nothing less than disgusting. He wasn’t even good-looking,” she said. Mbanze continued to say that when you are a student or pupil, you are put in a compromising position if you do not report something like this to a figure of authority because you risk getting really low marks or even failing. “The teacher that was pursuing me in high school was really doing some unsavoury things to get my attention and I ended up telling my mother because of the severe discomfort I was feeling because of this man. Some people clearly cannot handle power positions and choose to manipulate them for their own selfish needs,” she said.

In 2005, a Freedom of Information Act request by Times Higher Education revealed that 50 out of 102 institutions had no policy requiring staff to declare sexual or other relationships with students that may result in a conflict of interest. Of those that did, few appeared to apply them and only 17 universities had records on file.

Perdeby investigated if UP has a policy requiring staff to declare sexual or other relationships with students that may result in a conflict of interest and it turns out that the university doesn’t have such a policy.

The university does however have a policy regarding sexual harrassment and a code of conduct on the handling of sexual harrassment.

All complaints pertaining to sexual harrassment and intimidation can be lodged with the Student Council member for Safety and Security. So, next time a lecturer becomes a bit too friendly, you know where to go.

Besides that, we may still enjoy looking at those lecturers who make our hearts skip a beat, but you have to ask yourself if you would give a lay for an A.

Image: Ezelle van der Heever

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