…or not. At least not one nearby. Definitely not one within walking distance. Maybe to be safe I’ll head to the next town over. Why? Students. My biggest fear is that I’ll be at the bar dancing with a relatively attractive individual only to later find out that he is a student at the school I work at (Please Don’t Fire Me University) PDFM U. Even though it’s a small school, I definitely do not know them all!
Like 90% of the time if I ever run into a student at an establishment known more for it’s drinking than say…it’s meals…we acknowledge each other’s presence and then make sure to stay far, far away from each other. That way it’s not awkward, we’re not trying to hide from each other, and we’re probably making sure that we don’t become sloppy messes. In my mind (and when speaking with most of my student affairs friends) that seems like a reasonable solution. You don’t need to make a HUGE deal about avoiding the chance run in with students but at the same time you’re not getting all up in their business or throwing back shots with them. That’s not cool (even if it makes your students think you’re cool). If you think you’ve had one drink too many or feel the need to procreate on the dance floor, it’s time for you to go home. NOBODY needs to see that (especially your students).
Including the above sloppy mess scenario, there are plenty of instances when a run in with a student is NOT OKAY. It shouldn’t be a thing that you are running into students constantly. If you know that a certain bar hosts “College Night” or some other event that your students love on a certain night, don’t go there on that night. Heck, if you know a bar is frequented by your students, JUST DON’T GO THERE. If you happen to run into students while out and about, don’t try to dance with them or have lengthy conversations about anything. Don’t buy them drinks or recommend drinks. That’s not appropriate. If there are students that are underage, LEAVE.
There will be times where you have to leave because of students. One time, my friends and I were out having a good time when a student came up and started dancing with her. Now I mentioned this being one of my fears…her situation was a bit different. She knew he was a student so she literally RAN off the dance floor. So was it a case of a student not knowing she worked for PDFM U? NO. HE IS A STUDENT WORKER IN HER OFFICE. When he crept up behind her, he even said, “Hey IndirectSupervisorLadyThatIHaveNoBusinessCreepingOn”. That’s not appropriate. What made it worse was that all of his student friends kept hanging around our non-PDFM U friends. Time to leave.
Does it suck that sometimes I have to leave because of students? Yes, it’s happened twice since I’ve been here. But you know what? I like my job and I like having the respect of my students and colleagues.
One interesting thing is to see my various friends’ reactions. They have all worked at different schools with different policies before this one. I have one friend who remains panicked whenever we go out just at the thought a student MIGHT be there. I have other friends that think nothing of it. Both Undergrad U and Grad School State were much larger schools. At Undergrad U, I wasn’t old enough to go to bars until the very end of college and the administrators weren’t coming to house parties. At Grad School State, I would go to our nice set of typical college town watering holes that were incredibly strict about IDing people…meaning if I saw students there, they were of legal age. Sometimes I’d see my boss or her friends out and about…the important thing was acting appropriately and drinking responsibly.
What sort of policies does your current (or previous) institution have regarding this matter?