A student newspaper’s “how-to” guide on dating your teaching assistant, which suggests Facebook stalking, is causing backlash at an Ontario university.

The Gazette article “So you want to date a teaching assistant” has been criticized by the University of Western Ontario’s  administration and TAs for being sexist and disrespectful.

The article, published in The Gazette’s Aug. 19 edition, offers six tips to successfully date your TA. It suggests that students “Facebook stalk” their TA and express their flirtatious side by being “liberal with those top buttons on your blouse or button-up shirt.”

The paper’s editor-in-chief has noted that the article ran in a special “frosh” edition of the publication, which is more “light-hearted” and “informal.” But the university’s provost and vice-president of academics said in a letter to the editor that the article can’t be defended as being “satire or humorous.”

“Not only does the spirit of the article run contrary to Western’s efforts to have a workplace and learning environment that is free from sexual harassment, it is disrespectful of the essential contribution graduate teaching assistants make to Western’s academic mission,” Janice Deakin wrote.

The paper also faced backlash on social media.


Responding to the criticism, Gazette editor-in-chief Iain Boekhoff said in an editorial published on Tuesday that the newspaper does not “encourage or condone sexual harassment, assault or other forms of violence.”

Boekhoff stopped short of apologizing, however, instead saying The Gazette staff will “learn from this situation.”