Thursday, September 04, 2008

In loco parentis

Dear Student:

You're a freshman. And every new environment takes some getting used to. But really: exposed nipples have no place in the classroom.

I don't care that you're male. And I don't care how badass slashing up your lacrosse t-shirt makes you. And while I might in other circumstances celebrate the comfort with your body suggested by those bits of fabric flopping across your flesh, in Composition I prefer not to.

And don't pick at those blemishes. It only makes them worse.



A White Bear said...

Awesome. I told my freshmen last week that before they write down their email address for me, they should think carefully about whether it contains the words "spank," "sexy," "ass," or anything related to how "hot" they are. "I know you are tempted to create your email addresses on the basis of how sexy they make you feel. But see, we don't have a sexual relationship."

Lotsa laffs, and, for the first time in the history of my teaching career, all of the email addresses I got were free of descriptions of body parts. I'm doing this every semester from now on.

medieval woman said...

Ew yuck! Picking zits?? In class? No! or was there just evidence of this because there was so much exposed flesh???

Thoroughly Educated said...

Eeeewww. Thank God all of my freshmen showed up adequately clothed and not suppurating.

Sisyphus said...


No, wait wait ...


I just can't process this any further.

Flavia said...

AWB: that's awesome. I get a certain number of those--and wouldn'tcha know? They're always the ones who don't sign their names, apparently in the belief that I should KNOW who "hotirishlad" is.

MW: oh yes. Or at least scratching his back with what appeared to be intent.

It's a first for me, in so many ways.

Quinn said...

AWB: I'm stealing it. Totally. No porn star email addresses for me, thank you!

Mr. B. said...


Once you can get over speaking to a student who has a metal bone shaped object inserted through her nose, I thought it would be all downhill.

But this tops it.

My sympathies and best wishes for a good academic year.

Mr. Bonzo

Anonymous said...

Oooh, ick. Sorry, Flavia. Oof.

My first year of teaching, students wearing "Big Johnson" and other sexually explicit t-shirts really bugged the hell out of me. My advisor, a fantastic female scientist but not someone to rock the boat, advised me to ignore it, wrongly, in my opinion 15 yr later. Now, I'd probably hand them lab coats and if I got any flak for it I'd point out that it created a hostile learning atmosphere under sexual harassment rules.

Doctor Cleveland said...


Cold weather can't come soon enough.

Flavia said...


Oh, I never know what to do with those. I don't get many, but maybe one guy a year will have a favorite inappropriate t-shirt that I have to look at every few classes all semester long. So far, these have all been smart, participatory, and generally delightful students--which makes the experience that much weirder.

I've never said anything to any of them. But one semester I had a class where we were discussing a chapter of a novel in which the main character gets hit on by a guy wearing a shirt with a Confederate flag and slogan on it. We had a brief discussion about why people wear shirts with messages on them in the first place, and I said something like, "you know, standing at the front of the classroom, I spend a lot of time staring at shirts that aren't really. . . appropriate. And I always wonder whether the people wearing them realize what their shirts say about them."

I hadn't intended it as a pointed comment--but when two women in the room immediately burst out laughing, I knew I wasn't the only one who was tired of Mr. "Nice Rack."

Bardiac said...

In my grad program was a guy who played constantly with his nipple ring, through his shirt and with his arm inside when he wore a button shirt. I don't think he even thought about it... (except that it started when he was talking about how he'd just gotten his nipples pierced)

Pamphilia said...

Classic, Flavia, Classic!

Doctor Cleveland said...

Of course, as a male teacher with female students, I've schooled myself not to react to inappropriate fashion choices in any discernible way, and never, never to comment. So that practice has to extend to the boys as well. (And yes, I know Flavia would never say any of this to her student, hence the open letter on the blog.) I think I've mostly disciplined myself to put those startling sights out of conscious thought or recollection.

Not that traditional undergrads don't have a tradition of catastrophic clothing choices. (FEMA had to intervene for me twice in my sophomore year.) But if my students were asking me for life advice, the bad threads would be something I might get to eventually. Soooo many other issues to deal with first.