What happens when you fall for your teaching assistant? Or worse, your teaching assistant falls for you?

Teaching

Finding a reason to attend class discussion sections may be difficult, if not impossible. So when you find a reason, it seems smart to hold on to it for dear life — unless that reason happens to be the 5-foot-11-inch, sparkly-eyed pillar of perfection standing at the chalkboard and calling roll. If affection for your TA is what lures you to class each week, you might have a problem.

At a large university like the University of California at Los Angeles, the age gap between student and educator in discussion groups is significantly smaller than it is at other levels of education, since most teaching assistants are graduate students.

While sometimes this lack of age-gap can be an advantage, it may also prove problematic. Especially when it comes to a crazy little thing called love.

Because the age difference between TAs and their students is often negligible, there are natural attractions and temptations that surface. Rumors of students dating their TAs are ever-circulating in campus halls.

Mike Cantor was a teaching assistant for a drama class at the University of California at San Diego. In an essay he wrote, he discussed his struggle deciding whether he should date one of his students.

“I started dialing Melissa’s number about 10 times. Something stopped me from following through, and it wasn’t because I was nervous. I guess I knew there was something wrong with a teacher dating a student,” Cantor said.

In UCLA’s student handbook, there’s no specific statement regulating relationships between students and their TAs. All that is specifically addressed is sexual harassment and sexist behavior.

“The university respects the right of all employees to conduct their private lives as they see fit, yet at the same time, dating relationships between faculty/TAs and students, during the time of the pedagogic relationship, are strongly discouraged,” said Rhoda Janzen, a teaching assistant consultant at UCLA.

The gray area of students dating TAs is silently governed. Representatives from student affairs in the department of biology say TA’s going out with students is not allowed and that this is a “professionally understood rule.”

However, the Teacher’s Guide, according to university ombudsperson, applies to TAs as well — and it does address the dating issue.

Rather than actually prohibiting TA-student dating, the guide says “faculty members must understand that ‘romantic’ or any kind of socio-sexual liaison with current students” can place the student’s education and relationship with the educator in jeopardy.

“TAs are in the process of learning how to be professionals, and that means learning how to maintain a professional distance. They need to learn that. It’s OK to make friends; you just need to keep that distance,” said Dan Rosenfield, a sociology TA.

The guide describes in detail what could be compromised should star-crossed lovers start a relationship. Mainly, the guide serves as a warning to TAs, instead of as a prohibition.

One TA said she feels that a clear rule regarding romantic relations between students and their teaching assistants should exist.

As opposed to student-student dating, it’s a risky case because there’s a question of motive. There are several possibilities. On one side, a student could fabricate emotions in attempts to receive a better grade, and on the other a TA may use his or her administrative power to engage the student in a relationship.

Nothing is better — or worse — for a good friendship than a little nookie.

Friends falling for friends“I thought briefly that I was in love with a good friend,” said Jessica Kahl, a junior at Stanford. “But before too long, I realized that we were just not prepared to make the transition from friends to something more.”

Kahl has managed to remain friends with her crush over three years of college, and she feels certain she made the right choice.

“Without the mystery and newness of someone unknown, a relationship with a friend might lack some excitement,” she said.

The scenarios seem endless: to tell or not, to act or not, and then there is the other side. What if your best friend falls for you? The dilemmas involved with friends falling for friends are perhaps as numerous as the number of people who experience it — and that’s a lot of people.

Nicole Canrelli, a junior at the University of New Hampshire, is one of them. Her good friend fell for her. “I think he is a really nice guy, but I was just not attracted to him,” she said. “He kept asking me out, and I kept saying no.”

Canrelli resolved the situation uniquely. She told a girlfriend who liked him to go out with him.

“He has not been after me since,” she said.

They’ve remained friends through all the changes.

“I have just tried to act as if nothing unusual ever happened,” she said. “It is kind of hard, but I don’t want to lose his friendship. I have to make it work.”

Hollywood movies of friends falling in love with friendsHollywood Feels Your Pain; Hollywood movies of friends falling in love with friends

Falling for a friend? Wondering if you should let them know, keep it a secret or try to get over it? Don’t worry, Hollywood understands. Check out the morals of these friend-falling-for-a-friend movies for advice.

When Harry Met Sally
Harry and Sally meet at the end of college and keep meeting until they have sex. They feel funny after. He compares her to a dog. She bitch slaps him. They meet once more at a New Year’s Eve party, he in a bad jacket, she with a bad perm and both feeling sorry. “Auld Lang Syne” and “The Wedding March” ensue.
Moral: Wait. You won’t have to fake the orgasm.

Clueless
Josh hates Cher’s shallow, Beverly Hills bitchiness. He hates her surgically-enhanced friends. But he’s got her back anyway. What he should hate is that he’s kissing his stepsister. Eww.
Moral: Divorce sucks face.

Some Kind of Wonderful
Watts is a girl who seems to lust to the beat of a different drummer. After changing carburetors the live-long day, she sits at the kit in her garage and pines for her bud Keith — though that Denise Crosby haircut and the G.I. Jane-goes-to-CBGBs outfit point to a possible obsession with Amada, the object of Keith’s affection. When Watts stoops to playing chauffeur in order to chaperone Keith and Amanda’s date, it’s unclear who she’s ticked off at and who she turned on by. Fortunately, Keith almost gets his ass kicked and gives Watts the earrings and practice smooch she’s apparently been waiting for.
Moral: Not every chick who seems like a lesbian is one.

Angry and sad CupidWhat box of chocolate? What greeting cards? Oh yeah, Valentine’s Day is coming up. But it’s just another day.

Amanda W, a junior at California State University-Fullerton, is optimistic about Valentine’s Day. “I’m not one of those bitter people who has to burn pictures of their ex-boyfriend on Valentine’s Day,” Amanda said. “Valentine’s Day is great because it gives the people who never have the time in their day for romance a reason to be with the people they love. I’m a very romantic person — mostly because I believe that one day, I will be swept off my feet. But that definitely hasn’t happened yet! Don’t get me wrong — Valentine’s Day is great, but I can’t be swept away by someone whose only thought of romance occurs one day out of the year and consists of commercialized gifts that have no meaning.”

Despite our cultural ideal — Valentine’s Days with that special someone — some people are planning unconventional ways to spend the day.

Come Valentine’s Day, Baldwin-Wallace College junior and Sunday school teacher Samanta Olander will be telling the religious story of St. Valentine to young people — a far cry from the romantic escapades most students have planned on this day of love.

But Olander believes the message behind this ancient tale is more important that roses and chocolates and sexy lingerie. That’s why she is planning on having “a discussion on how God shows his love for us and how we can show God’s love through our own kindness and understanding,” she said.

While most college students probably will not be spending Feb. 14 in church, considering how commercialized and lascivious the holiday has become, Olander doesn’t mind.

“To me, Valentine’s Day is a day to remember those that you love and care for, and those that love you,” Olander said. “Sure I may dress in all black and scowl when I hear the ‘V’ word, but deep down it’s a good reminder of the people close to your heart. As far as being single, call me an optimist, but I try to remember the good times and look forward to the great times ahead. Who knows, Keanu Reeves may be calling me out for a date tomorrow!”

Chris Georgalis, a sophomore at Case Western Reserve University, says for him, Valentine’s Day is comparable to Groundhog’s Day.

“It only happens once a year and when it happens, I usually am not aware of its arrival until the day of,” Georgalis said. “It is true, although, that I have spent most of my St. Valentine’s Days single but it is on this day that I will always stop and think about the importance of human relations. That is what St. Valentine’s Day has been for me.”

Anti Valentine's Day CupidThe Anti-Valentine’s Day party actually makes some people grateful Cupid hasn’t set them up on a hot date for the night.

Valentine’s Day is a couple’s day. They exchange flowers, candy and cutesy stuffed animals. Even the candy is lovey-dovey, from heart-shaped Sweet Tarts to the little candy hearts bearing such phrases as, “I Love You,” “Hug Me” and “Be Mine.” But what about those people who aren’t in a relationship on Valentine’s Day? What are they supposed to do when their coupled friends are out soaking up the love?

There’s always the Anti-Valentine’s Day party, a chance to have some significant-other-free fun (and maybe even find that one true love). But the Anti-Valentine’s Day Party is more than bitterness. It’s a real bonding experience for those who are left out on this day. When V-Day comes around, those unattached tend to feel a little abandoned. And what fun is it when you get flowers or a gift from your parents? Everyone wants to feel as if they are a part of a bond between close friends.

The Deep Meaningful Ritual Party

Be my Valentine…not!This party can be anything from a relaxing spa party to doing facials on each other, to a night on the town with just the guys. It’s a chance to bond with friends, share past experiences and take your mind off of your single status.

“My girlfriends and I got together with a big bottle of wine last Valentine’s Day,” Christina Sage, a senior at Monmouth University said. “We went to our friend’s house to have a big bonfire. We burned everything we had from past boyfriends,” she explained.

Sage continued, “We felt it was good day to just let loose all the bad memories we had from past relationships. It was a combination cleansing/starting-off-point for us.”

The Generic, Any Day Party

You don’t need a holiday to have an excuse to throw a party. But Valentine’s Day is not excuse not to throw a party. It doesn’t have to be a ritual. Getting a lot of people together to party can be just as meaningful as a few close friends getting together. It gives you the opportunity to meet a lot of other single people.

“A few of my friends and I decided that Valentine’s Day was just a load of bull to promote flower sales and send everyone to the dentist due to the high dosage of sugar. So we decided to get all of our single friends together and have a party to not celebrate Valentine’s Day,” said junior Amy Costanza a junior at Syracuse University. “We had a blast.”

If you’re doing a formal dance and you haven’t answered these vital questions, you could be sorry.

It’s formal time. Do you care?

If you don’t care, that’s your deal. Go read another story.

Formal DanceBut if you do care, are you ready? You might think you are, but if you haven’t answered some very basic questions, you could find yourself in sad shape at The Big Ball.

It doesn’t matter whether the formal is school-sponsored or thrown by a frat or sorority. And it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. Both guys and girls have their own separate questions to answer and a few that are shared by both.

Are We Traditional, Liberated or Dutch?
The first problem may arise as soon as an upcoming formal is announced: who pays for the tickets? If it is a formal put on by a department within the college, both the guy and the girl may feel obliged to pay.

“When residential life sponsored our Winter Ball in February, the tickets were $50 per couple,” Heather Ogalli, a sophomore at Monmouth University said. “My date and I felt that was a lot of money for one person to pay, so we split the cost. After all, we are college students on a budget and it’s not as if we go to different schools and have two formals to attend,” she added.

Splitting the cost of the tickets may be the best way to go if you and your date go to the same school and you want to be fair. However, when your date goes to another college, going Dutch may not be such an easy solution.

“When talk of the Winter Ball came around, I really wanted to go with my boyfriend. We had never been before and this was the last year I could go,” Christi Montgomery, a senior at Monmouth University, said. “But my boyfriend goes to Rutgers University and isn’t big on the whole formal scene. I decided that since it was my formal and I really wanted to go, I would pay for the cost of our tickets. It was only fair to him.”

While it’s not true that the clothes make the first date, a bad ensemble sure can kill the chances for a second.

Wardrobe ideas for first dateWhat to wear, what to wear? Flowers are blooming, birds are singing. Is it spring? Well yes, but it could be snowing and you’d still see butterflies and sunshine; you’ve finally got a date with the person you’ve had your eye on for the entire semester. You’re even catching yourself spontaneously breaking into renditions of Frank Sinatra tunes.

You’ve probably pictured the whole date in your mind, right? You know exactly what you’ll do, what you’ll say and what you’ll — oops … what will you wear? The clothing is critical; it can make you look attractive but not too sexy, smart but not stuffy, interested but not desperate, trendy but not immature. But how to strike this delicate balance of ultimate desirability? If you’re suddenly panicked, do not fear. The following will provide you with inexpensive wardrobe ideas that will help you make a great impression.

Women
In search of a solution to the college student wardrobe problem (too many pairs of jeans and hiking boots, not enough cash for anything else), you’ve probably thumbed through the fashion magazines to find a solution to the wardrobe problem. There, you’ve seen a bunch of women with two-hundred dollar feathered boas and spiked heels. They’re no help. What you need is something practical that fits your budget. Here are some ideas that you can choose from, depending on where he’s taking you.