Two student just kissed each other, in public, in front of the other students and me (as the lecturer), in class!

Should I report the case to the administration?!

What am I supposed to do?

I'm a tenured female lecturer, at an american university.

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    Then why can't you just tell the two students a simple: "Do not do that in my class"? Why do you need to involve the administration into that? – Alexandros Jan 11 '16 at 16:20
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    If you see something in your class that you do not like, first you must tell the students off in an affirmative, strong tone. If they do not behave after that, then you can find ways to escalate. Why do you assume that they will repeat it, even after you reprimand them? – Alexandros Jan 11 '16 at 16:26
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    In most cultures, a brief kiss (a peck on the lips) - assuming that's what happened here - won't be considered terrifying or inappropriate. In the prudish US you might hear "Get a room!", but I would find it against the spirit of Western free expression (certainly under attack by left and right) to have formal rules against a brief kiss. For me the question is more if one should be allowed to do anything formally against a kiss, and I say no. What's next - no mini skirts? If you don't like it, make a humorous remark. – gnometorule Jan 11 '16 at 16:52
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    Can you say a bit more about what was inappropriate about the kissing? As @WolfgangBangerth said, in the US minor public displays of affection between adults, including kissing, are not unusual nor necessarily inappropriate. It sounds like we're missing a good deal of context about why this bothers you so much. Also, you mention that you're female, and honestly I think that's a bit inappropriate, as it is completely irrelevant to what your reaction should be. Overall, the question in its present form makes it sound like you are grossly overreacting to a completely benign incident, which ... – Dan Romik Jan 12 '16 at 3:42
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    I'm not at all convinced that this was not a very effective act of trolling. Can any of you imagine reporting a classroom kiss up the chain of authority? I thought at first maybe this question was from a foreign university with very different standards for public behavior. But in the US? It's ridiculous and I don't really understand how someone could be a tenured lecturer and not realize that. – Corvus Jan 12 '16 at 4:24

(Assuming that the kiss was worth noticing: personally, I wouldn't mind) What do you do with, e.g., students who chit-chat in the classroom? With those who play with the phone? With those who look at Youtube videos? With those who eat spreading food everywhere? With those who arrive late giving high fives to their friends?

Do the same.


As I'm sure you're aware, kissing in public is an entirely acceptable part of American culture. It happens at the bus stop, in the restaurant, in movies, on TV, and pretty much everywhere else where people can see you. In itself, it isn't a big deal, and nobody feels offended by it.

It becomes a distraction when it either happens at a time where it's in appropriate (e.g., during a quiet exam) or in a way that makes it inappropriate (e.g., a couple french kissing for an extended period of time in a fancy restaurant) or if the norms within your institutions are different from those elsewhere (e.g., in a strictly Christian college). Your question does not specify whether either was the case. If so, you are within your right to ask the students to not do it in the future. But if it was a peck on the lips somewhere in row 3 during class, or someone hugging and kissing during the break between classes, I don't think that that goes outside the norms of American culture. You can of course put something into your syllabus, or call out the students, but the best you're likely going to achieve this way is to come over as prudish. That's not likely what you're going for. If the students themselves feel distracted or think it goes beyond reasonable bounds, they will feel free to police themselves.


Talk to the students involved privately. (E-mail them, if necessary, to set up an appointment.) Ask them to refrain from over-the-top displays of affection during class. Once you have talked to them, make a concise announcement to the whole class that you do not want to see that kind of display during class (although it may be best not to refer specifically to the event that happened, so as not to embarrass the student involved). In the future, have more detailed notes in your syllabus about what kind of behavior you consider inappropriate for the classroom.

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    Only because one lecturer considers something inappropriate, it shouldn't be forbidden by simply outlining it in the syllabus. – gnometorule Jan 11 '16 at 16:56
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    A lecturer needs to decide what behavior they consider too distracting or inappropriate in the classroom. Barring students from public displays of affection is perfectly reasonable, just like barring students from eating in class. I personally have never felt the need to forbid either of them in my classes, but obviously the questioner found the kissing incident to be disruptive. – Buzz Jan 11 '16 at 16:59
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    I think we shouldn't encourage trying to suppress behavior that I, like apparently you, find possibly out of place (eating, a peck, ...), but well within the range of normal behavior of young people in a Western culture; hence my comment. At least I would add that you should write it in the syllabus as "I would appreciate if you refrain from ...", putting adherence to the audience, while expressing personal discomfort with some actions. – gnometorule Jan 11 '16 at 17:04
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    @gnometorule I completely disagree. As the professor you are able to set the rules how you want as long as they do not discriminate and they are reasonable. I don't allow people to have smartphones on their desk because I see them distract students and that distracts me. Another professor might not care, and that is their prerogative. If these students aren't able to follow a simple rule like "no eating" or "no kissing" then they aren't mature enough to be in a college classroom at all. You don't have to be mean about it, just mention it and only take further action if that doesn't help. – Sean English Jan 11 '16 at 17:10
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    Wow, don't do any of these things. – user18072 Jan 12 '16 at 4:48

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