There are certain positions within our society that hold innate power.
Clergy, Managers, and Teachers all easily fall into this category.
We give them a certain level of complicity and trust because, ostensibly, they have earned deference from years of service.
The problem, of course , is that not every person in authority has your best interests at heart.
So, what do you do when a person you trust doesn’t just make you uncomfortable, but ignores it when you ask him to stop?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) noideawhatsgoing_on when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for some outside opinions.
“AITA for reporting my professor and getting him in trouble”
OP began with a brief introduction.
“Hi, I (female, 20) am a university student in my second year.”
“We have this professor who’s everyone’s favourite. You know the kind of teacher who’s cool and funny and makes every class interesting.”
“He was my favourite teacher too.”
“Well at least till last week.”
She then got right to the problem.
“We had this assignment due that I needed extension for as I had to leave for my hometown to attend a funeral (my mother’s sister).”
“So the day I had to leave I went to see my professor to talk about the extension.”
“It was way early in the morning but I knew he would be in his office as he comes early to plan fun lectures for us (he had told us that multiple times).”
“So he was there and when I entered he asked me to sit down.”
“I started explaining my situation and while I was talking he came around his table and sat on the table itself facing me. I got a little uncomfortable because the door was closed and there was very little space between us.”
“I shifted a little farther.”
“Then he suddenly leaned forward so I jumped out of my chair. I told him I was very uncomfortable by his behaviour and would like him to go sit back in his chair.”
“He acted very shocked and just said he was just listening intently.”
“I asked him again to move back to his chair but he got very angry and told me he will stay just there and if I want the extension I can sit back down or just leave.”
“I left and reported him immediately.”
“While I know what I felt there, everyone else has been giving me a hard time and calling me a**hole for being too sensitive.”
“I also heard someone say that I should dress better (I was wearing a sleeveless black top which I admit had a deep neckline) if I don’t want this to happen.”
“I am afraid that if he lost his job then all my classmates will hate me forever.”
OP was left to wonder.
“So Reddit AITA here? Or should I just take my complaint back?”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for their ruling.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some were understanding.
“The fact that you told him he was making you uncomfortable and he chose to ignore you makes it pretty hard to believe he didn’t know exactly what he was doing.”
“You did the right thing in reporting his behavior.” ~NUT-me-SHELL
“Also the fact that she has to say what she was wearing is horrible.”
“It doesn’t matter wtf you were wearing.”
“What does matter is that he was making you uncomfortable, you told him and he ignored you and got mad.”
“Just because he is a fun teacher doesn’t mean he is a good person and you can tell those SOB to f off because he deserves that report. NTA” ~ lemon_peace_tea
Others shared personal stories.
“Ours married one of his students (he said it was fine because at the time he was ‘just a student teacher’).”
“Then there was this scandal where one cheerleader’s bf was cheating on her with another cheerleader, so she printed out all of the nudes they had sent to each other via texts and threw them around the hallways Regina George style.”
“This teacher was heavily invested in making sure he had all copies of those print-outs.”
“About 7 years after I graduated he was fired for ‘inappropriate conduct with female students’. We all saw that coming a mile away.” ~ passyindoors
“We had a ‘cool’ student teacher at our school who I ended up being super close friends with (I was a high school student at the time).”
“Long story short, he was grooming me the entire time and the second I turned 18 he pressured me into taking nude photos (inside his classroom after hours!!!) and assaulted me.”
“It’s taken me years to accept that I wasn’t at fault.”
“Sh*tty thing is that he’s still a teacher…” ~ MrsEllanious
There were even those that tried to give the professor the benefit of the doubt.
“I was on the fence at first – maybe he was just obtuse about personal space.”
“But when she clearly told him she was uncomfortable and he replied by basically blackmailing her over the extension to attend a FUNERAL – no.”
“He knew exactly what he was doing and the OP is a hero for reporting him before he pulled this sh*t on other girls.”
“OP, I’m sorry for your loss, I’m sorry this a**hole treated you this way, and thank you for turning him in. NTA” ~ jasmineflower88
There were also concerns about how her report got out.
“Also, OP, what you reported wouldn’t be enough in itself for any action to be taken; so if there are consequences, it’ll be because this is the last straw, not the first.”
“Your report will simply put the department on notice that this professor might be prone to questionable behavior and they should keep an eye out.”
“If it WAS a misunderstanding (I don’t think so, but benefit of the doubt) there will be no more reports about the prof and this will simply be a blip that people later think was an oversensitive student.”
“Or he’ll take this as a warning and go out of his way to NOT make students uncomfortable.”
“Whatever happens, it’ll be for the best.”
“What concerns me more, OP is how the other students found out about it. Such reports are supposed to be confidential.” ~ JadieJang
A professor even chimed in.
“Speaking as a (male) former university instructor, now retired … “
“He’s way out of bounds. Starting with the closed door.”
“I always left the door open when meeting privately with a female student, and would close it only with her consent when discussing very sensitive subjects.”
” ‘Sat on the table facing me … then he suddenly leaned forward’ — yeah, he’s trying to look down your shirt. He can ‘listen intently’ from his desk chair.”
“Then he told you if you want the extension you can sit back down (so he can see down your shirt more easily, I’m sure).”
“That’s called ‘quid pro quo (something for something)’ and it’s the very hallmark of sexual harassment.”
“Former faculty member here, remember? In the US, at least, this is something that we all get trained in: how to recognize it, how to stop it, what to do about it.”
“The training is mandatory, and to keep our positions we have to attend sessions every couple of years.”
“This has been the law in the US for years.”
“There is no way that he did not know that he was doing wrong.”
“You handled this exactly correctly: stated clearly that you were uncomfortable, asked him to stop the behavior that was making you uncomfortable, left when he refused, and reported him.”
“Good for you! That was textbook letter-perfect.”
“If he loses his job over this, it’s not because you reported him.”
“Or, rather, it’s not because only you reported him. If he loses his job, it’s because you were the third or fourth or fifth student to make a similar complaint.”
“Do not withdraw your complaint. Not reporting harassers or abusers allows them to continue.”
“NTA.” ~ PingPongProfessor
Commenters suspected that this wasn’t the first time for the teacher.
“And the fact he was so brazen about violating her bounds and trying to manipulate OP suggests this was not the first time this has happened to his students.”
“Sometimes there are very charismatic teachers or priests who prey on others.”
“It probably would not have ended that day had OP let him violate boundaries without consequence.”
“There are probably several other students of his who feel powerless after being victimized. And most likely some experienced worse” ~ hexbatch
Either way, no one felt he was making an innocent mistake.
“A) if he did have completely innocent intentions, he would have said ‘oh I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable I’ll move now.’ “
“B) if this is the first and only time he’s ever done anything remotely inappropriate, then he won’t get fired for this one instance.”
“C) if he DOES get fired, it will be because this was the last straw in a PATTERN of bad behavior.”
“NTA at all OP, please stand strong and surround yourself with people who will support you.” ~ sarita_sy07
Trust isn’t just earned, it is maintained.
The trust that we give to those in authority is a particularly important and fragile thing and must be cultivated constantly.
When that trust is violated, there must be consequences.