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One of the professors in my class seems to be attracted to me. I am back at university after a long stint in software, so my age group is similar to the professors. He is married and probably has a habit of giving too much attention to girls. I feel uncomfortable with his constant gaze and kind of forcing me to ask questions and interact, and looks like he is very happy when I come to sit near him on the first bench, and he appears jealous when I sit beside other classmates who are guys.

When I ask any question, he replies with a voice as if he is talking to his sweetheart. Due to this, I felt very uncomfortable and stopped interacting with him, then he became very angry and scolded the whole class. After that, my classmates try to force me to sit at the first bench.

My problem is, that I'm feeling pressured. He is actually a very good teacher and I want to learn from him. But I want to keep some distance. At the first bench, I am too close to him, and feel uncomfortable and unable to concentrate on the subject he is teaching. I would rather sit at the 3rd bench or so and be surrounded by my classmates (so he can't come too close to me). That way, I'm better able to concentrate on studies and able to interact with him. But looks like he is too eager to come closer to me. All these are disturbing me, and affecting my studies.

I want some suggestions as to how to stop this behavior without offending him. He has helped me a lot whenever I asked any questions, I am just being uncomfortable with too much interest from a married man. I just want to learn the subject happily without feeling pressured, and I don't want him to get angry either.

Any suggestion is welcome. (I can't opt-out of this subject as there is no time for me to take this later, this is my final semester).

I don't want to complain about him. He has been very helpful whenever I asked any question on the subject. I just want to know if I could modify my behavior in some way so it becomes normal.

Is it going to help, if I just tell him straight (and calmly) in the class that "I am not liking that you are treating me differently from other students. I want equal treatment."? Or is it going to bring more trouble by saying this?

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  • Is there a student union at your place (I feel the European/US culture here in this forum might not be so helpful)?
    – user111388
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 20:45

3 Answers 3

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There are two possibilities: Your professor is aware of what he is doing, or he isn't (and he's aware of how you feel about it, or he isn't). In addition, there is the behaviour of your classmates which is less than helpful.

If he isn't aware, then moving to the third bench should help a lot. If your classmates don't like it, tell them without any regards for politeness that there is no f***ing way you will go to the first row, and if they don't like it, they can talk to the professor about it. If the professor himself asks why you moved to the third row, then you tell him that you don't feel comfortable in the first row. If he doesn't figure it out by then and asks why you are uncomfortable, you tell him it is because of his behaviour which you feel is inappropriate.

If he still doesn't get it and doesn't change his behaviour at this point, then you'll have to go to someone higher up unfortunately.

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    Yes, of course class mates can not force me, they are calling me repeatedly to sit in first bench, and I have started denying recently. Thanks I was also planning this. I will try this out. Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 13:19
  • I would recommend to give a milder tone to the final answer, something like "you tell him it is because of his behaviour which you feel is too much supportive: you are glad you received so much personal attention and support for being back at the uni from long time in a working environment, but in the classroom you are only a +1 student and other deserves the right to stay in first row." Unfortunately, I say this to minimize retaliation from this prof (idiot, to be more precise) who clearly has no idea about his behavior and he will be hurt when someone will make it clear to him.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 9:54
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    Answer was posted on workplace.stackexchange. However, the behaviour of her classmates is atrocious. They are basically willing to victimise one woman instead of standing up for themselves. As far as the professor is concerned - if he is unaware, then a normal balanced person would appreciate being told that their behaviour is taken in a different way than intended. Again, from where I posted the iron rule is: No retaliation. Ever. Doing something forgivable, and then retaliating when there is a complaint, that is unforgivable.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 10:00
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    Update : I sat in the third bench in next class. The professor looked very depressed, as if he will cry any time. The weather of the class was very sad. This is really irritating. What does he want from me? He has wife, children at home, and in the class he wants free entertain from me or what? Anyway, my purpose is served (for one day at least). He didn't / couldn't do anything that can distract me from concentrating on the topic he is teaching. Hoping he continues teaching normally, forgetting me. Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 12:22
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    @gnasher729 unfortunately retaliation for these "things" can be expected from a person in power (university professor) with almost no control mechanism. Plus, statistically it is (unfortunately) common that in the academia the person you are facing is not normal and balanced nature.com/articles/s41578-021-00367-z
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Apr 13, 2022 at 17:17
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I was always of the opinion that when people make you knowingly uncomfortable or put you knowingly in bad spots that you needn't be a polite victim.

If his default is to get mad at the class when you decide not to interact with him then the issue is something that should be taken care of by the higher ups within your university. You may want to reach out to student counselling about all this, especially if this prof teaches multiple subjects that you plan on passing.

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What the professor is doing is harassment. There can't be a justification for a professor behaving like that to any student.

"the professor looked very depressed, as if he will cry any time. The weather of the class was very sad. " I must say that the situation this professor has created is very immature.

If there is not much transparency in Indian academia, then you telling him, "I am not liking that you are treating me differently from other students. I want equal treatment."? Or is it going to bring more trouble by telling this?" could backfire as he might get angry/ vindictive and can give you bad grades in this course and in other courses (if he is part of seminar or master thesis evaluation committee.). He could also try to humiliate you in class or outside if you ask questions.

I would strongly suggest you to discuss the matter in detail with ombudsmen and /or committee for sexual harassment (or any other specific committee depending upon your country) as soon as you can. Only they can solve this problem. It might happen that course is given by the ombudsman to other professor which will be a sigh of relief for you. If not, then this professor will behave more reasonably as he know that there are high-ups who are aware of his behavior.

I can understand the mental pain such a situation causes. There is no reason for you to suffer mentally. He is creating problems and he should rectify his behavior.

"After that my class mates try to force me to sit in the first bench." Those classmates are not your well-wishers. Ignore them. They are putting you in a very bad situation just because they want that things go as usual for them. But you can land in a situation, which will bring immense mental pain to you. I must say they are very selfish and insensitive.

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