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I'm a teaching assistant and the semester is almost over. I might be a TA next semester too. I like one of my students, but I think it's not professional to tell her. Is it wrong to ask her out, or should I not do it because it's a professional situation?

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  • You are just a TA, not an official faculty member. I think it is fine. Why don't you just quit your TA? It might release your burden.
    – oldbee
    Jan 15 at 11:02
  • Just a comment: If you don't have had any contact with her except in this class, I'd say it is not professional (and might be creepy). (I can't read from the question if this is the case or not). Your location might also matter.
    – user111388
    Jan 15 at 11:23
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    @Sursula: The question where you wrote "Does this answer your question?" looks very different to me - here, the OP is "in power", in the other question, the questioner is the one where the love interest has power over them.
    – user111388
    Jan 15 at 11:37
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    In addition to the other comments, even if there is nothing creepy a priori about how you know each other (i.e. outside of the TAing), such a constellation is always extra charged and can be a lot of trouble for you (but also for her! - as people may think she got preferred treatment because of your interest). It might be wise to apply a "cooling period" after TAing before considering further pursuit. Intuitively, I would say, 6 months min. Jan 15 at 12:43

2 Answers 2

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Absolutely do not do this. You may not realise it but you are in a position of power over the student. The student might reasonably worry that turning you down could impact them academically, or make it difficult for them to continue in your class.

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Precise standards vary by culture and by university. Regarding the latter, do check whether your university has a published policy on romantic entaglements between staff and students, and if so, read it. Even if it doesn't cover you as a TA, it might help you get a better understanding of the general attitudes.

What is clear to me is that you cannot ask your student while you are still involved with teaching her. If you are TAing again next term, you would need to make sure that she's not in your group at a minimum, or better that you are not TAing for any course she is taking. She would need to know this when it comes to reacting, to avoid the risk that she fears retaliation if she turns you down. If you are involved in the broader context of this student, it may be the right thing to do to inform the person in charge you have a conflict of interest here.

For faculty many would consider it inappropriate to ask an undergraduate student out at all, whether or not there is any connection teaching-wise. I think TAs are generally sufficiently junior that no blanket inappropriateness applies.

A final issue to consider is how you would ask her out. If you have her contact details only via your role as TA, I would consider it inappropriate to use them for personal purposes. Likewise, any event you are attending in role as (former) TA is out. So this only seems possible if your social spheres intersect somehow.

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