One of my students is an escort/stripper and she has offered me (and other faculty in my department) her "services". I am pretty sure my initial reaction of "thanks for letting me know, now can you answer the question about how to calculate the standard deviation", may not have been the best reaction. The offers have continued. My head of school is aware of the issue, and has asked if I want him to do anything.

Is the student doing anything wrong by offering her services to me? For what it is worth, prostitution is legal in the UK. Is this any different then a student telling me she works in a restaurant?

What is the correct response in a situation like this?

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    Did she offer her services free of charge, or is she simply advertising her craft?
    – gerrit
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 14:40
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    @gerrit: Does it matter?
    – JeffE
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 14:40
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    @JeffE I think it might, as one could be interpreted as a bribe, whereas the other cannot. I'm not saying either is appropriate, but the severity of a misconduct can be different depending on what is the case, perhaps (I'm not sure).
    – gerrit
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 14:41
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    @LordScree The fact that they are in a student-teacher relationship makes the situation rather unique. If she was handing out fliers at a construction sites' lunch break it would be a different situation.
    – gerrit
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 16:19
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    You know, I knew a couple girls who stripped to pay their way through college, and both of them would have been mortified if any of their classmates found out, much less their prof. To them stripping was a fun, well-paying means to an end, not something they wanted to bleed over into their "real life." They wouldn't offer their services to friends or acquaintances outside of work. Maybe it works differently with escorts, but I'm inclined to say that it's not just "advertising her business." She's hitting on you. Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 22:26

4 Answers 4


First, “thanks for letting me know” is not an unambiguous no. I suppose most people would actually get it, but she already appears to have boundary issues, so you should make it much clearer. The best thing to do would be to make it clear to her that you consider her propositions to be out of line. You can add, that while you don't think badly of her because of it, such offers have no place in the classroom (or in a student/teacher relationship).

In fact, you would probably do the same if she insisted on asking you to come have dinner at a restaurant she worked at: you'd be annoyed by it, because it is detrimental to her (and others) attention. I regularly have students who ask out-of-line questions, and I try to be firm: while I'd be happy to discuss if we were friends, we are not and my class/practicals/whatever is not the right place for that.

However, there is a distinction between talking about sex and dining: the law makes a distinction in many countries, including UK. From UCL's HR webpages (as an example):

Sexual harassment can take the form of ridicule, sexually provocative remarks or jokes, offensive comments about dress or appearance, the display or distribution of sexually explicit material, unwelcome sexual advances or physical contact, demands for sexual favours or assault.

which clearly covers your case, whether the sexual advances are of a paid or an unpaid nature.

Finally, regarding your head of school: the student clearly has boundary issues, probably for making the offer in the first place and definitely for renewing it multiple times after you declined. So, yeah, I would suggest your head of school or a counselor having a talk with her about it.

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    I agree that the student clearly has boundary issues — all examples I've read about of students doing such work went at great length to avoid ever running into a teacher while working. Whether advertising to sell sexual service is sexual harassment I'm not sure, though.
    – gerrit
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 14:51
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    I'd add that you should make sure any further conversations with this person are conducted in the presence of a counsellor or other third-party, just to be safe.
    – Suresh
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 16:35
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    @АртёмЦарионов I disagree: there are boundaries, set forth by laws, regulations and university policy. I strongly advise to set one's behavior according to one's employer policy, obviously.
    – F'x
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 21:31
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    In the OP it was not claimed that he didn't want to accept her offer. So maybe his answer 'thanks for letting me know' was perfectly fine.
    – Adam
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 11:24
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    Why quote from UCL's policies? How do you know what OP's university is? Did I miss something? Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 15:11

Your initial reaction was thanks for letting me know, now can you answer the question about how to calculate the standard deviation.

This answer is ambiguous and at risk for misunderstanding. I guess you mean no, but you're not saying no. If taken literally, this answer says neither yes nor no. Myself, earlier in my life, would have interpreted thanks for letting me know as an expression of interest, which explains the repeated offers. In sensitive cases like this, I think it's important to be very explicit:

I am not interested in your professional services and please do not offer them again.

Like this, at least it is beyond doubt that you have replied negatively.

  • 181
    No question, my initial answer was ambiguous and could have been better. I was so shocked that I didn't handle it as well as possible, but at least I didn't give my standard reply of "why don't you swing by my office to chat about that".
    – StrongBad
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 15:24
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    ^ Which would have been both hilarious and very, very disturbing at the same time.
    – Joe Z.
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 15:29
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    "Possibly adding as long as you are my student ;)." isn't that direction slightly dangerous as well? Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 15:55
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    This is the UK, right? "Thanks for letting me know" is a very clear signal of disinterest there. "We do offer xxx" - "Thanks for letting me know" [meaning, "I couldn't care less"] Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 14:50
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    @kleineg: No, Captain Emacs is correct. In the UK it's more than a mild sign of disinterest. Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 22:33

I think her offer is more than just a simple bribing. It is an intentional act to jeopardize your career and put you in trouble. Unfortunately it is a method used by some women to disturb and manipulate men and when they get disappointed they can easily pretend they are the victims of sexual abuse. Due to the fact that sexual relationships between people are not as simple as other relationships, her offer cannot be compared with inviting you to a restaurant. I think it is better you not only reject her offer but also report her offer and try to document it.

  • 3
    Depending on the region, it may or may not jeopardise his career as long as it is not a bribe. See also this question, although I recognise this is not about a relationship.
    – gerrit
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 14:38
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    I agree with Vahid. Further, I think, technically she probably didn't do anything wrong. At least not as long as you can't prove she offered her services as a bribe. Known professional or not doesn't matter. I always assume: those who offer such services also would not hesitate to accuse YOU of inappropriate behaviour and uninvited sexual advances and where I come that can destroy your life instantly, even if there isn't a shred of truth in that accusation. From now on never receive her without at least one fellow worker, best female, around. And report the incident! Just in case! Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 22:13
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    +1 Even if Vahid is wrong, what he is telling you to do is not wrong. Better to be on the safe side.
    – KK.
    Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 4:53
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    Conjecture is being presented as fact: -1. Good advice, though. Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 15:08

From what you say, the student's actions are not illegal in your country. Most people, including most administrators of educational institutions, would consider this "wrong." The reason is very simple; it could constitute bribery, or a at least a conflict of interest. Apparently, this has happened to a number of people, your university is "wise," and is willing support you (and others).

The next time it happens, give her an uequivocal "no," and tell her that you don't expect to have to tell her again. You might add that you are "happily married" or "in a good relationship" if that is the case. The "second next time," you might threaten to report her to the university. In any event, whatever you do, make it clear that her behavior is inappropriate, and will not be tolerated.


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