General Dance Discussion > Studio non-fraternization contracts, protecting whom?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Gator, Aug 24, 2003.

  1. Gator

    Gator New Member

    I was wondering what's your take on the subj. First time I've heard about it was 2-3 years ago, I wasn't even dancing, but friend of mine went with his wife to take classes and the studio made both of them to sign the contract. The explanation was "it's being done to protect customers" ??? Protect married couple from what? Doing threesome with their teacher?

    Later, wherever I went, they had little bit different policy, students didn't have to sign anything, but the teachers had to sign the same contract, no dating with any student in that studio. I've asked why, the answer was different too - to protect the teachers. I know one more studio, with the same rules, and reasoning, protect the teacher.

    So, what is it about, protecting whom? Techers? Students? Both? It's a kind or rule that beggs to be broken I think. Just for the sake of it.
    Protecting teachers? If the student is a weirdo or a maniac and goes after that teacher I doubt that'll help, rather a police matter, otherwise how is that differnt from everyday life, no is no, you don't need a contract to tell no to someone from your eveyday life, do you?. Then what? Protect the teachers from themselves so they don't get excited and go dating every single student in the studio? Dunno, doesn't sound convincing. Those teachers are adults after all, not underages.

    Manager in #1 studio, the one "protecting" their customers with this contract mentioned that they've had customers buying expensive gifts for their teachers, then get upset, etc... That sounds rather like protecting customers vallet ;) Which leads to the conclusion that at least in that case studio didnn't want customers money spent on something else. I guess they were worried about the sales of various packages they had to sell to those "victims".

    Anyway, I'd be interested to hear opinions. Do teachers really feel protected somehow by signing that piece of paper? Or students feel more safe? May be it's all nonsense? Do those stidios have specific reasons?
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    My opinion, for what it's worth, is this. Who is demanding all these non-fraternization contracts in the first place? Studios. And that's who stands to benefit. Studios are protecting themselves from legal liability if a student/teacher relationship goes sour. Bottom line.

    And, I agree. It's a rule that begs to be broken, and, I'm guessing, gets broken regularly. Let's face it. Dancing is physically intimate, and from time to time, the boy/girl thing is going to get in the way.
  3. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    On second thought, your idea about studios preventing students from spending money on things besides lessons bears more consideration. A couple of years ago, when I left a job I had at the time, the first question my former teacher asked was what my significant other did for a living. What a self-interested sleazy guy he was. The only thing he cared about was whether I could buy lots of lessons from him. And to make it worse, he was a mediocre teacher, at best!

    I'm not going to beat a dead horse, so check out the thread on franchise experiences. My experience was quite bad.
  4. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    I had a student come in to take the introductory special, which was 4 half hour lessons. On the second lesson, while I was holding her hand, she was lightly caressing my wrist with her fingers. I couldn't tell whether she was doing this subconciously or on purpose. Either way, I couldn't stop wondering what was going on.

    Our studio had a policy that forbid teachers from dating students. This especially applied to private lesson students. Sometimes they would "look the other way" if the student was only enrolled in group lessons. Dating a student who was taking private lessons was strictly prohibited.

    On the last lesson it was time to sell her a program. I expressed concern when she told me the private lesons would be difficult to fit into her budget. I told her that maybe group classes might be a good start and then she could add private lessons later. When she got done writing a check for a month of group classes, I asked her out to dinner.

    We have been happily married for 3 years (and known each other for 4½ years). :D
  5. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    I have had to sign this "non fraternazation" paper/contract. I believe it is protecting the studio. From what I get out of it the studio doesn't want the students to get all obsessed with the dance instructor or think that they can hang out with them all the time outside of studio events or what have you. (not saying students are crazy/obsessive etc etc). I also think it has something to do with the studios not wanting instructors to "steal" aka take the students with them if they decide to leave that studio. Everyone knows the turnover rate. Also, you can't pay special attention to one student over the rest and give them special privledges which you might be inclined to do if you were dating a particular student.

    My two cents 8)
  6. Gator

    Gator New Member

    Well, I guess that's rather "studio spirit" :( In that regard they're worse than car mechanics. At least in my experience.

    Because its a lot more money with private lessons, no?
    Cool that it worked out well for U though ;)

  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    I'm so glad you posted your reply. I think the trick is knowing when to follow the rules, and knowing when to ignore them. I'm glad things worked out for you and your former student/wife. God bless you both.

  8. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    Everyone knows the turnover rate.

    You mean teachers? Yes I mean teachers.

    Also, you can't pay special attention to one student over the rest and give them special privledges which you might be inclined to do if you were dating a particular student.

    Might be true for group lessons, but doesn't apply to private lessons I assume. No, I mean in general you should never give special attention to one student over another. You should try to treat everyone the same. We all know it's not easy and doesn't always happen but you should at least try to keep it that way.
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    I think you have a point here. The studio I used to be affiliiated with made teachers agree not to contact their former students for two years after leaving the studio's employ.

    I also think that these agreement may be related to protecting the studios from sexual harassment claims. Sadly, I had to study sexual harassment law for a course once, and wow, companies can really be hung out to dry if they don't protect both their employees and customers from any appearance of harassment. That's why most companies, not just dance studios, have some sort of written policy.
  10. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    What made you study harassment law?
  11. Gator

    Gator New Member

    Well, you're a teacher, you know better. Except if you're dating doesn't that mean you're not treating that person as "everyone"?

    P.S. And I am not sure how this "treat everyone the same" works with private lessons, I thought the point was to get more "individual" instruction vs. group.
  12. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    I'd like to also point out that as a teacher you are constantly in the spotlight. I remember I went through a phase where I probably dated 4 or 5 girls over about a 4 month period. These were not students, but they were dancers. You should have heard some of the comments that people made about me behind my back.

    You'll have to take my word on this, but I was not going around sleeping with all of these ladies, but that is what people were perceiving. Because you are around multiple members of the opposite sex in a way that all but a few would only dream of, people tend to talk. This talk can be very destructive to a teacher's reputation.

    A similar situation occurs with receiving gifts from students. Students start to believe you are showing favoritism toward certain students when you accept gifts. Also, it is easy for people to think you are taking advantage of your students even when the student is giving out of the kindness of their heart.

    No fraternization policies definitely have their place! :)
  13. Gator

    Gator New Member

    I don't think in that situation it'd make any difference whether you were a dance instructor or a jet pilot. Regardless of your job people will always talk, of course, none of their business how many girls U date per month, but that's the way things are.

    Funny, but at least those I know about don't really mention gifts.
    Anyway, how does it help? After all if you're dating a girl U can give/receive all the gifts you want without publicly declaring those at the studio ;)
  14. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    I was more referring to teachers accepting gifts from students, in general, not from a boyfriend or girlfriend.

    Even though it's none of their business, it's prudent to exercise some level of discretion. In addition, I've gotten in some weird spots where students were showing up to dances and all I wanted to do was be with my date. There are some awkward situations that can arise as a result of fraternization, so just be careful.
  15. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    I know that there are strict rules forbidding student - teacher fraternization, but was not aware of any contracts regarding such. I never was presented with any for the private lessons I took.

    Now, I'm not thinking of asking any staff members out for a date, but I wonder how that rule applies to people who just attend the open dances and are not taking any lessons or group classes.
  16. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    Well that's the point. No fraternization would mean no contact with the students on a private basis WHATSOEVER so dating would be out of the picture.

    Regardless of whether the student is doing a private lesson of a group lesson they will be treated the same as the other students. I think you are thinking I mean treat them the same way as in "at the same level". Of course not. We 'treat' the more advanced dancers differently than the beginners because they don't need the really really really focused attention that a person that say doesn't even know a waltz box does.
  17. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    No no, the non fraternization agreement is signed by the teachers and studio staff. The students only ever hear about it if it comes up. Ie: a student invites you out to dance (non studio related trip) or over to their house for a BBQ. That's when the staff politely refuses and let's them know why.
  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    A studio I went to actually posted the policy on the wall.

    ... After one of the teachers got engaged to one of their best customers, and she, Mom and Dad left the studio! :shock:
  19. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    Well, my perspective comes from being on both side of the fence as a student and as well as a teacher.

    The franchise I studied at was very strict about teachers not even dancing with a student if they happened to meet out at a club by accident. It bordered on being almost gestapo-esque and rude.

    As a teacher, I've had studios where fraternization was not even addressed and some students tried to take it a little too far. I've also worked at studios where fraternization was addressed and it was no big deal.

    I think it is more of a legal liability thing. If a student has a crush on Teacher A, and reads more into it than there is, a policy such as that can be a help. I've actually seen this happen. One teacher colleague of mine was really diswraught whena student kept coming on to him and trying to get him to date her. This person had issues though. :?

    Many studios feel that instructors who date their students are going to be "giving away the store" and so forbid it on the grounds that they'll lose money. I can see the persepctive, but if a student would rather date their teacher than pay for lessons, so be it. Besides, I'd feel like a prostitute if I was taking money from my husband to teach him (another reason I don't teach anymore).
  20. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Actually there are similar spoken/unspoken contracts/policies for grad student TAs/undergrads, profs/grad. students....I think they serve well as guidelines, but it does happen. Being in the academic world I've met quite a few grad student TA/undergrad, grad. student/summer research undergrad student, prof./grad. student pairings.

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