Dear Ty

Dear Ty: I fucked my CA—meet your sequel. Illustration: Rame Abdulkader.

Dear Ty,

I was out with my friends last weekend and I stumbled into a TA for one of my classes at the bar. At first I just wanted to talk about the essay for the class that’s due soon, but one thing led to another and I ended up bringing them home for the night. I’m contemplating not going to class tomorrow to avoid them, but on the other hand (and I hate to admit it) I actually had a really great time—please help me!

—TA’s Pet

Dear TAP,

First a reader who slept with their CA, and now we’re on to a TA? We’re only almost halfway through the publication year, and what a year it’s been. Before we dive into this, it’s important for me to note that who you sleep with is totally your choice, and so long as it’s consensual it’s not my place to judge. What I can do is lay out both sides of the argument: whether you should continue this relationship or cut if off as cleanly as you can.

Let’s start with ending this relationship, if we can call it a ‘relationship’ at this point.

This may well be your best option, considering the U of O has a policy on relationships between faculty/staff/supervisors, and students. Under Policy 67, the U of O’s sexual harassment policy, the university states it “strongly disapproves of (these) romantic or sexual relationships … and expects members of its community to refrain from engaging in them.”

The university elaborates on its reasoning in the policy, explaining that this disapproval comes from the fact that a relationship like yours may constitute an “abuse of that power differential (between students and faculty/staff/supervisors,)” which “creates a negative environment for work and study and casts doubt on the validity of the consent to such relationships.”

It’s not clear exactly what consequences might be handed down if you are caught in your relationship with your TA, if any, but it might be best to err on the side of caution just to be safe. Outside of disciplinary action, a TA-student relationship can be messy in a number of other ways: the awkwardness, as you mentioned, of having to face someone you’ve seen naked at the front of a classroom, or having to hide the fact that you’ve had sex with them from dozens of other students in the room.

On the other hand, as Judith Taylor, a sociology and women’s and gender studies professor at the University of Toronto, told Global News in September of this year, “learning is an intensely romantic endeavour.” She goes on to highlight that one can conflate the energy and excitement of learning with the person who is actually helping you learn this material: “there isn’t a part of you, when you’re really into it, that isn’t really alive … there’s vulnerability and an excitement.”

This might help to explain why you unexpectedly connected with your TA and ended up in bed with them. But nevertheless, the majorly important thing to keep in mind if you do decide to continue this sexual/romantic relationship with your TA is consent: check in with yourself constantly and make sure this is someone you really want to be involved with. If you ever feel coerced, like you have to stay in the relationship to boost your grades, for example, get out of there as fast as you can, and don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family or a professional for help if needed.

If you do decide to continue this relationship, do everything you can to avoid others finding out, at least while they’re still your TA. This has less to do with possible consequences from the university and more to do with backlash from your fellow classmates. There’s a chance you could be the victim of accusations of grade-fixing and things like that, or even worse, at the heart of a school-wide gossip storm.

With this in mind, if you really are feeling this whole relationship with your TA, wait it out.

Realistically, you have less than a month of this semester left and then you’re totally free—both of exams and assignments, and of any backlash from your relationship. If I really had to take a side in this, waiting until next semester seems like your best bet.

Love,

Ty