Many of us, in our undergraduate careers, have walked in on the first day of class to behold an attractive teaching assistant of the graduate student variety. Some of us may have even tried to flirt with said TA (I certainly did; it did not go well), but if you really want to land this hottie you need to bring your A-game and get to stalking, according to The Gazette, the student newspaper of the University of Western Ontario.
Featured prominently in the paper's "frosh issue," the journalism team welcomed freshmen to the university by letting them know exactly what to do if they found a teaching assistant attractive. Never mind that sleeping with your TA is unethical and will likely only end in heartbreak, this is college, live a little. But don't come to this rodeo without a lasso, because the TA is a species you've never encountered before and you're going to need to follow a plan.
Step 1: Stalk the TA on Facebook and then drop in during their office hours. And for god's sake, if you're not in the class they're teaching, you're going to need to do whatever is necessary to get into that class. During my undergrad, someone sent a phony email to the entire department to get students to drop classes so that space would be made for them. Maybe you could try that? (Oh, and according to The Gazette, you should also be good at the subject. No TA is going to want to date someone who's a slacker.)
Step 2: Be sexy, but don't, like, be desperate. You want them to notice you, but you don't want them to know you sit in your dorm room after class writing their last name over and over on your Tumblr and creating gif sets about your deepest inner feelings.
Step 3: Get interested in the course the TA is teaching. This is the part where I thought that this was all satire and a joke to get you into going to class, but the author of the piece also says that while some TAs don't like "ditzes" (obvs tier A TAs), some do, so whatever. Do what you like, it's college.
Step 4: Make a joke about the course. This comes after being sexual. I don't know why, but there it is.
Step 5: Make an appointment to visit them in office hours and use that time to seal the deal. Or not. Because I can tell you from experience that as a graduate TA I was so happy that someone (anyone) came to office hours to talk about a subject I really enjoyed, I would have never noticed if they were hitting on me. And I'm guessing that would have been the same with a lot of my colleagues. I don't know, there's just something about sitting in an office you share with five other people and a microwave that smells of fish cooked long ago that doesn't scream "have sex with a student" to me, but YMMV.
I'm going to copy step 6 directly from the paper because it is a particularly brilliant pieve of advice:
Know when to give up. At the end of the day, TAs are there to guide you through the curriculum – so there's a good chance you have to be okay with that and only that. They may not be giving you head, but at least they're giving you brain. Don't be too disappointed though – after all, there's always next term.
The article has, unsurprisingly, come under fire. Current students, faculty and alumni have commented that it's both in bad taste and unprofessional, and some are worried that incoming students won't read the article as satire (because it's not particularly good satire) and try to do what the advice says. Others are arguing that the article is a fine example of free speech and that a retraction or apology would set a bad precedent.
The editor of the newspaper is standing by the article, which he has both a right and, likely, a responsibility to do, and the school's provost, while finding the article distasteful, says that students may publish controversial articles, but according to The Metro News faculty are worried that this piece will contribute to the school's reputation as a party school, especially because other sections of the newspaper give advice on drinking and doing drugs.
On one hand, the paper could be commended on the fact that they're discussing some controversial issues so openly, but on the other, the entire thing is gross and demeaning. Diana Tamblyn, a marketing professional and cartoonist, points out that while good satire, such as Swift's A Modest Proposal makes it clear that the topic (the eating of babies, in that case) is clearly absurd, the issue of sexual harassment, which is what this article seems to be endorsing, is something that is a reality for many people.
"If you're talking about sexual harassment on campus as a how-to list, this is a real problem that exists every day.
"Western has a reputation of being a party school to the point of being written up in Playboy and being featured on David Letterman, and I don't think this is a good way to present yourself to incoming frosh."
The editor of The Gazette, Iain Boekhoff, is apologetic that people are offended, but also suggests that this is not the worst thing the paper has put out:
Two years ago it was just straight 'how to have sex with your TA' as one of the 50 or 100 things to do before you leave Western."
"I had one complaint late Sunday night which is after three days of people losing their minds on Twitter," he said. "This thing is entirely Twitter."
Update: The editor has apologized and retracted the article.
Graduate TAs have issued a response: So You Want to Treat Your TA Like a Human Being
Image via Shutterstock