Forbidden Fruit?

So, if you’ve watched ESPN or any major news network recently, you’ve heard of the  Bobby Petrino debacle. If you haven’t, well : The 51-year-old Petrino, a married father of four, maintained an inappropriate relationship with 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell for a ”significant” amount of time and at one point gave her $20,000. Athletic director Jeff Long fired  Bobby Petrino last Tuesday night and laid out a stunning laundry list of misdeeds against the man he hired away from the Atlanta Falcons four years ago. He said Petrino missed multiple chances over the past 10 days to come clean about an affair that had crossed the line from infidelity into workplace favoritism.                      


The beginning of the end came on April 1, which Petrino at first described as a Sunday spent with his wife at an area lake.

Instead, he and Dorrell went for an evening ride and skidded off the road in an accident left him with four broken ribs, a cracked vertebra in his neck and numerous abrasions on his face. The avid motorcycle rider said the sun and wind caused him to lose control on the two-lane highway about 20 miles southeast of Fayetteville.What he failed to mention, both at a news conference two days later and to Long for two more days, was the presence of Dorrell other than a vague reference to ”a lady” who had flagged down a passing motorist.

That changed when the state police released the accident report. Petrino, tipped off by the state trooper who usually provides security for him during the season, informed Long 20 minutes before the report was released, and he admitted to what he called a previous inappropriate relationship with Dorrell.

Long placed Petrino on paid leave that night, saying he was disappointed and promising to review the coach’s conduct.

Bobby Petrino’s relationship with his mistress dated back more than a year, with the former Arkansas coach sending her candy, calling her a ”close friend” and suggesting the affair that cost him his job started with a kiss over lunch last fall, according to documents released Thursday.

The notes suggest the 51-year-old Petrino and 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell were intimate for approximately five months, from September or October until this past February. According to the notes, however, the university discovered 326 phone calls and 7,228 text messages between the two that date back further, to April 2011. And they show Petrino and Dorrell claimed to have ended the intimate part of their relationship once it became clear she wanted to apply for a job under Petrino – one he wanted her to ”earn.” She was hired March 28 and has since resigned. According to Long, Petrino said he and Dorrell became friends while she held her former job as a fundraiser for the Razorback Foundation. They began going to lunch together, and Petrino told his boss that his affair with Dorrell began with a kiss last fall.It’s unclear when the relationship turned sexual. Dorrell said the two had been intimate four to six times since around September, and the ”last encounter” was around signing day on Feb. 1, when Petrino showed up via car service at a Little Rock event rather than arriving by plane. Notes indicate the two decided they should be only friends sometime in early February. Petrino told Long that Dorrell was interested in the job, that ”she approached him. Thought she would be good. Understood they would definitely have to stop.”   


So, this has got me thinking. I’m a graduate student. I knew a ton of undergrads and graduate students who had sexual relations with their college professors, some who were MUCH older.  I would be lying if I said I have never been attracted to a professor before. So the question is this:  why is this such an issue? OR, why SHOULD it be an issue? For me, I do have a problem with an 18 year old freshman,straight out of high school, screwing her 56 year old Communications professor. EWWWW. But then, is is OK for a 21 year old undergrad to sleep with a 24 year grad assistant, or maybe a young professor?  Why should it be an issue if two consenting adults enjoy each other?  I scouted the internet about this and was really surprised at the array of opinions on this topic.

I loved this article, partly because the author listed a few of my favorite movies, but also examined this from an interesting perspective.

“Why is professional futility so often connected with sexual impropriety? (In both Terms of Endearment and We Don’t Live Here Anymore, “going to the library” becomes a euphemism for “going to sleep with a student.”) Why are these professors all men, and why are all the ones who are married such miserable husbands?”                                                                                                                                                          

Slate always has great articles, and they did not disappoint with this  article

“The burning academic question of the day: Should we professors be permitted to “hook up with” our students, as the kids put it? Or they with us?”

Written in a pretty straight forward way, this one cracked me up!

I stumbled upon a professor Emeritus from CSULB, who is VERY passionate about this topic as well as other things sociologically related. Feel free to check out his blog here and see his viewpoint.

Here is another good one from the Dank Professor.

If you want to know what CUNY’s policy is on this topic, read this.

Overall, in looking around the Internet, turns out lots of people have LOTS of passionate opinions about this. Some had affairs, came out none the wiser, some came out really messed up, some married their teachers, some went to jail over their affairs… WHEW. Google  “Mary Kay Letourneau”. Now that WAS messed up, but to their credit, they have two kids and are still married to each other.  


If I can put my two cents, the only problem I have with this is the potential abuse of the power dynamics. As long as the little 18-20 something undergrad screwing her/ (or his ) professor fully understands the “ground rules” of the relationship ( just having sex, stroking ego’s, etc) and doesn’t have unrealistic expectations for the relationship ( sorry, honey, he’s not leaving his wife for you, no matter HOW good you are in bed) and the teacher is also not abusing their position in a negative or abusive way. ( “You passed Spanish cuz you gave Professor Montoya a lap dance after the final! -Legally Blonde), then why not let two horny, consenting adults have fun between the sheets?  

Returning back to the Petrino story, even though it sounds like they were hot and heavy for each other,  I wonder if Petrino would say the risk was worth the reward.

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