Duce & Nobble

More from Agony Aunt Agnes Crowley

Duce & Nobble

With Agnes Crowley

A reader writes:

Honourable Agnes,
I am a student at a local university. Recently a professor of mine has been paying me special attention, calling on me more in class and often reading my assignments out loud and asking my opinions in front of the class. At first I was pleased by this, but I started getting teased by my classmates about being the “teacher’s pet.” This didn’t bother me much. I’ve never been particularly well-liked or respected by my peers, so being teased about my superior accomplishments rather than my strange appearance, unusual fashion sense and unpopular interests is a nice change. The problem is that lately the professor has been asking me to stay after class to privately discuss my assignments. Often the conversation takes a turn onto personal topics, and he spends more time asking about my hobbies, interests, skills and even my personal medical history than discussing the course material. I am concerned this is more than professional interest, but I am unable to determine the nature of his interest in me. How can I circumvent his attention without putting myself in an uncomfortable classroom environment?
–Under the Microscope

Honourable Agnes replies:

Dear Under,
It could be that your professor is recruiting for a secret, underground organisation of some kind, and you have caught his eye. Barring that, he may simply be trying to seduce you. Either way, if you are uncomfortable with his attention, it’s important to set clear and concise boundaries. He’s in a position of authority, so tread carefully. If he asks you for a private meeting, keep the conversation focussed on the pertinent subject matter and always let someone know where you are going to be and for how long you expect to be there. If his questions become personal, steer them back to the classroom material or state firmly but politely that you’d prefer to stick to the topic of the assignment. Make sure you have some sort of weapon on you to defend yourself at all times, so if he makes any appropriate advances you can get away quickly and tell someone in power. If he is recruiting for an underground organisation, it may already be too late for you. If you’re still alive as I am writing this, get out now. Transfer out of the class or even the school. You may not be able to run forever, but there’s a chance you’ll be able to at least prolong your personal freedom for a little while. Good luck. I hope he’s just a pervert.

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