Stalking: another peril of being a teacher

If undivided audience attention is what you want at work, then there are many careers to pursue, including stripping. But becoming a professor is not one of them. Any student that has ever sat in the back row of a big lecture class, or is sitting in one right now, knows that even the most dynamic professors have problems maintaining the attention of a classroom.

Too often, a theoretical analysis of the lesser-known works of John Milton is less compelling than a text message, a game of Snood or some crappy article in the campus paper. Let’s face it, if copies of the Daily Trojan were replaced with used cereal boxes, most people would read the backs of them rather than face another two hours of PowerPoint-induced stupor.

Rita Yeung | Daily Trojan

Rita Yeung | Daily Trojan

That’s why it’s curious that in a profession where any attention at all is desirable, getting unwanted attention from your audience poses a considerable threat. But it turns out that for all the students who couldn’t care less about a 16th century British poetry class, there might be one stalker who cares altogether too much.

According to a 2007 study conducted at seven Indiana University campuses, one-third of professors reported to being victims of stalking, a significantly higher percentage than the 5-6 percent of the general population who have experienced the same thing.

The study focused on professors being stalked by their students, and the professors were most likely to report invasion of space, unwanted gifts and messages of affection, and being followed around.

Given that there are at least some readers trying to remember what their current professor’s name is, it seems there is no happy medium in collegiate teaching. If you’re a professor, you’re either coaxing term papers out of students who only remember the parts of lecture when they weren’t searching “puppy sumo wrestling” on Youtube, or you’re coming back to your office to discover a 61-page love letter and a bottle of Sex Panther cologne.

For those readers currently wondering why a student would find himself obsessed with someone whom he knows only in the context of an introductory microeconomics class, the study offers no insight. It does say that male professors were just as likely to report being stalked as female professors in the study, suggesting that there is no gender bias when it comes to the eroticism of a lecture on Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.

Of course, stalking is no laughing matter. Before the editorial director is flooded with angry emails, let it be said that anyone, student or professor, who has fallen victim to a stalker should alert safety officials and take necessary precautions, including avoiding all conversations centered on Adam Smith.

After all, the sad fact of the matter is that even stalkers aren’t good students. Some professors reported giving their stalkers higher grades than they deserved and reducing the amount of work in the class, indicating that students who shower professors in affection and listen to their private cell phone conversations in the bathroom are still performing poorly in the classroom.

Maybe stripping is a better career option after all. Sure, stalkers are still an issue, but at least you don’t need to bribe them with grades.

Laura Reeve is a senior majoring in public relations.

1 reply
  1. BUAD 101
    BUAD 101 says:

    It should be in all syllabi, “Stalking or harrassment by students to instructor will automatically result in a failing grade, and potential criminal charges…”

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