Students, professors question ‘friending’ ethics

By Mitchell Schafer


As social media websites allow users to become more connected than ever, some users are making connections that might cross an ethical line.

Students who “friend” their professors on Facebook blur the lines of a professional and personal relationship, according to a USA Today College opinion article. According to the article, the request puts the professor in the tough situation of having to deny the student’s request.


Luke Norris, a graduate assistant in sociology, said while he does not have a Facebook, he believes it’s acceptable for professors to accept students’ friend requests. He said it is up to the instructor to accept and monitor Facebook friends professionally.

However, several staff members said they aren’t comfortable with accepting students’ social media requests.

Agustin Jimenez, an assistant professor in zoology, said there was no problem with professors and students being friends on Facebook, but he doesn’t accept students’ requests. Academic life should be kept separate from personal matters, he said.

“The less I know about their lives could keep me at better grounds to treat them fairly,” he said.

Professors don’t want to see students posting pictures of themselves partying the night before a test, as it could make professors biased toward specific students, he said.

Andrew Barbero, a graduate assistant in history, said professors and teaching assistants should not accept student friend requests.

“I have a policy where I don’t accept friend requests from students, because I think it blurs the line,” Barbero said.


In large classes with teaching assistants, students get to know assistants much better than professors and feel a lot closer to them, he said. While teaching assistants may have personal relationships with students, he said, they should retain an ere of professionalism.

Teaching assistants and students tend to be close in age and often have face-to-face interactions in class, he said. Barbero said he puts the policy of not accepting requests in his syllabus because he doesn’t want students to take it personally when their friend requests are denied.

Students were also divided on whether ‘friending’ professors is appropriate.

John Richardson, a senior from Grayslake studying accounting, said some professors are more open to friending students because social networking is normal for businesses.

However, Cortney Kristufek, a senior from Palos Hills studying nutrition, said it would be weird for a student to be friends with a professor while they are in the same class together.

Devontay Howard, a freshman from Chicago studying physical therapy, said ‘friending’ a professor is not as professional as communicating over email. Friendly Facebook relationships could also lead on to complicated personal relationships and personal altercations, he said.