How not to talk to an undergrad

Posted: December 6, 2010 by Jender in sexual comments, sexual harassment, sexual innuendos

This happened fairly recently.

I did my undergraduate degree in a small philosophy department. The only female lecturer was temporary and filling in until a permanent, as it turned out male, lecturer could be hired. Early in my 1st year there was a department meal out. Towards the end of the meal, and after I’d had a couple of drinks for Dutch courage (I’m quite a shy person), I went over to the table all the male lecturers were sitting at to chat to them. We started talking about party tricks and out of the blue, he hadn’t spoken to me before that point (in fact I’d never met him before), the head of the department told me “a real party trick would be if I could drip hot wax on your nipples”! All the other lecturers at the table laughed loudly. I was absolutely stunned and utterly humiliated. I went bright red and didn’t say anything. As soon as I could (without it being obvious why) I went back to my own table. From that point onwards I avoided him as much as I could and would go red and get embarrassed every
time I saw him. As a result the two mandatory courses of his I took were my lowest grades… ever.

No-one I have ever told that story to has thought it was inappropriate for a head of department to say that to a timid first year he’s only just met. They’ve all found it hilarious and told me to lighten-up.

On a more positive note: My time at that University did get better and I ended up getting on quite well with three of the lecturers… plus the head of department moved to a different university.

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