My freshman year in college, I took a class from a professor I really liked. Everyone liked him. He sometimes did borderline inappropriate things in class, like sitting halfway out the window pretending to fall out or talk about wanting to kill himself or leave his wife, but he always said them in a way that was just joking enough where it was OK. I think that was actually part of why everyone liked him—that unpredictable bad boy thing.
It wasn’t uncommon at my small school for professors and students to have each other’s phone numbers. I can’t remember why he had mine. I think I called him about an assignment in the first couple weeks of class. The first time he texted me, it was about a question I’d asked in class. He said, “Great question today—very insightful!” It made me feel really good.
He continued to text me about things from class, referencing jokes someone had made or asking if I liked the reading. The text messages got sexual so slowly that I can’t even put my finger on when it started happening. He would text me things like, “Meant to tell you, you looked beautiful today!” or “Your boyfriend is one lucky bastard…does he give you everything you deserve?” Then they got overtly sexual, things like “You make me wish I was 20 years younger, unless you like them old lol.”
I never responded with anything even a little sexual, but I always responded. Not responding when your professor texts you didn’t really feel like an option. I kept my messages really short once I was done with his class and soon he stopped sending me messages.
The next semester, I heard a girl in my dorm talking about the same professor sending her text messages. It made me feel both better and worse, to know that he must do this all the time and it wasn’t really about me. And it was wrong.