University prof: my new pal? - Macleans.ca

University prof: my new pal?

It’s as if my mom suddenly said, “None of this ‘mom’ business. Call me Kathy.”

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Some of my professors have started asking the class to call them by their first name. They don’t want to be “professor.” They want to be “Stu” or “Doug.”

But when I e-mail a question to one of those professors, I just can’t bring myself to type, “Hi Dan.” It feels way too familiar. Like I may as well write, “Hey Dan-man, wanna give some tips for assignment number 14?”

Not to mention, it just feels weird. Sort of like if my mom suddenly announced, “None of this ‘mom’ business. Call me Kathy.”

A first-name basis with university professors creates a false sense of equal-ness. “Dan” is an equal. He’s your buddy. Someone you play Xbox with. Someone you can discuss the latest episode of Dexter with. If Dan is being a jerk, you can… well… call him a jerk. Or ignore him. Or sign onto his Xbox profile and change his emblem to a picture of monkey testicles.

But a university professor? They correct your tests. They mark your essays. Or at the very least, they’re in charge of the TA’s that do. They dictate your quality of life for four months. They’re The God of 50 Minutes of Your Life every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Just don’t forget to call them Dan.