Counseling Center offers support group for students encountering professors outside campus

Lee Thomas, Currently avoiding multiple professors

Students-Outside-Observing-Professors Therapy, Encouragement and Affinity (SOOP TEA) is the Whitman Counseling Center’s newest support group. It is designed to address the difficulties experienced by students when crossing paths with faculty members somewhere other than their standard offices and classrooms.

Illustration by Megan Suka.

The Wire interviewed student members of SOOP TEA about how their participation has improved their quality of life. We have omitted the names of participating students and the professors mentioned, as confidentiality is a key element of programs like SOOP TEA.

“[My professor] saw me … [they] saw me requesting assistance at the premium liquor cabinet. In sweatpants. [They] knew that I was going to spend my Thursday night drinking Bacardi in sweatpants,” confessed a senior. “I couldn’t imagine moving on from that. But this group has helped immensely. It’s good to know that you’re not alone and that other students have also been spotted by faculty under sometimes even worse circumstances.”

A sophomore shared: “One Tuesday, I emailed my comp-sci professor that I had a personal emergency and wouldn’t be able to make our 9 a.m. class. That ‘personal emergency’ was meeting my friend for breakfast at Maple Counter Cafe. Guess who walked by the restaurant as I was cackling at a dumb joke my friend made? Yeah. The utter, heart-gripping anguish that struck me immediately upon eye contact seemed irreparable.”

The student has since found that the pain is repairable; SOOP TEA has given them the breathing techniques and support system necessary to not drop the class and awkwardly avoid their professor for the rest of their life, which was their initial instinct.

A third student shared their traumatic experience: “I was walking around Pioneer Park over the weekend and saw a professor of mine cross by the bird cages. Nothing really happened, we didn’t even interact, but it was just … wrong. Professors aren’t supposed to exist during the weekend, much less in a park. They should be in their offices doing … academic activities.”

The student claims that SOOP TEA has taught them coping skills to deal with that discomfort and challenge their beliefs. 

The Counseling Center encourages any student who has endured the shock of spotting a professor in the non-organic produce aisle at Walmart or any other scarring location to join the SOOP TEA community and heal. Professors-Outside-Observing-Students Therapy, Encouragement and Affinity (POOS TEA) will be launching next month to assist professors dealing with seeing their students make terrible alcohol choices at Safeway.