Friday, November 7, 2014

A student who stinks

I have a graduate student. Unfortunately I have to report here that the student stinks. No, not in research or teaching or anything. He literally stinks.

Yes, I have a student who comes to my office and can be there for some time to discuss research, teaching, courses etc. However, the student smells bad. Not that I poked my nose in him or something. One can breathe the foul smell meters away from the student and the whole room smells. Once the student leaves, my office smells and I have to sprinkle some air freshner to be able to breathe again.

I don't know what to do. Do I tell the student? Do I make someone else to tell the student? Or should I just remain quite and suffer for the next 5 years? Have you encountered such a situation before and what did you do?

p.s. I am laughing right now writing this but believe me I don't laugh when he is in my office


  1. You are in a stinky situation! Is he international? Because that will make it even harder to deal with...

  2. Then just ask him next time when he visits you in your office: "are you just coming back from gym/swim session in stinky ocean/fish market, because you smell funny..."

  3. AHAHAHA! Oh boy do I know what you mean. I have had to have "the talk" with three students thus far (two of them more than once), and it seems I will have to do it with a fourth, for a new student stank up my office so royally the other day I had to keep my door open (window doesn't open) the rest of the day. The "nose offenders" have been from different areas of the world, so it seems there are stinky (as well as nicely-smelling) people everywhere. With one student it got so bad that the rest stopped coming to the office, but none of them would tell him anything!

    You have to have The Talk. I usually sit the student down and tell them that in the US regular hygiene is paramount, and that he/she doesn't want to be that student that people can smell before they can see. That Americans shower daily at least once and the use of deodorant is expected. That if he/she expects to ever be employed in the US, this is one of the baseline requirements. (Btw, I checked with the dean of students and they said this was perfectly fine to say, especially since my group my rules, and the students are 100% RAs).

    But a word of caution: I got into a major shitstorm a few years ago over mentioning online that some students stink (check here, part 2(c) has 5 links). Just so you know what you are getting into.

  4. "he/she doesn't want to be that student that people can smell before they can see"

    I am laughing my ass off hahaha

    Yes, I think I will have the talk and let him know that this has to change. FYI, I have a bottle of febreeze in my office now so that when I need it I spray my office till it rains. It eliminates the need for opening a window (which I do not have lol)

  5. My best advice I can give to you is just deal with the damn smell! You are there to teach, not smell people, you freak! Plus, he is there to learn, he doesn't smell you, now, does he?!