The golden rule regarding the relationship between students and teachers

MAT SCOTT ‘19

Arts & Life Editor

The Golden Rule. We’ve all heard it since we were kids. Do unto others as you would wish others do unto you. Or, in simple terms, treat other people the way you want people to treat you.

This rule doesn’t just apply to seven-year-olds in day care, though. It applies to everyone of all ages, whether you’re a first-year student on your first day at Denison or the one professor who has been here longer than all the others.

It’s also something that people need to remember, especially in positions of power–including professors.

I’ve seen a professor berate a student employee over circumstances outside her control. The same professor has also berated me while at work. I’ve seen another professor call a group of students “embarrassment[s]” to the school over trivial issues. I was a part of that group.

We’re expected to respect our professors, and rightly so. They’ve had a lot of experience in their field, and we do them and ourselves a disservice by not treating them with the respect they deserve.

That channel flows both ways, however.

As students, some of us are paying substantial sums of money to attend this university with the hope that we’ll be treated like adults. When we see professors–who are supposed to mentor and teach us–treating other students like second-class individuals, what kind of example does that set? What does it say about the campus culture when professors are shaming students or treating them disrespectfully when they’re swamped and understaffed?

The professor who called the students “embarrassment[s]” asked whether their writing was the sort of thing the university wanted prospective students and their parents to see. I pose a counter-question: is that behavior from a faculty member the kind of thing we want prospectives to see? If that professor is getting so upset about the writing of students who are volunteering their time and effort to put forth a product and offering no helpful suggestions, but rather resorting to shaming them publicly, I would hate to see what would happen if a student turned in a substandard essay for that class.

Regarding student employees, it is important to remember that they are employees. Just because they have the qualifier “student” attached to whatever their job title might be does not mean that they deserve to be treated like dirt or yelled at because they are unable to accommodate every person’s desires every time they want. In the classroom, the professor is in charge. Outside of the classroom, employees from other departments deserve the same respect. Going off on an employee because they are unable to meet your every demand due to circumstances outside of their control sets a very poor example for others who may be watching. If you wouldn’t want your children to treat an employee that way, then don’t do it yourself. Even if you are a professor and the employee a student.

As a student, I get it. Professors have put blood, sweat and probably literal tears into getting where they are in their professions. But if they want students to respect them, they need to show us the same consideration.

Mat Scott ‘19 is an English major from Alexandria Ohio.