I try to be as democratic as possible in my interactions with students. However, it bothers me to get emails from students that start with “Hey!” I think it’s rude. At the very least, a student could go to the trouble of memorizing my very short and easy to remember name.

“Hey!” sounds like you are trying to attract a dog’s attention, or something.

Am I being touchy about this?

14 thoughts on “Hey!”

  1. Absolutely not. There is appropriate decorum when speaking to a person. E-mails are simply another form of communication. I would rebuke the student the same way if they were to shout that down a hallway. You’ve earned your title, and you should be addressed accordingly.


    1. I’m glad to hear I’m not being too uptight or something about this! I would never address anybody in this way. Maybe I’d shout that at a person who splashed me with mud or did something similar.

      Imagine if the students bring this form of address to the workplace with them.


  2. I have had a few emails addressed “Hey, Professor,” which I think is kind of cute. I don’t think I have ever gotten one that had just “Hey” as the salutation.

    Do students call you by your first name? A very few call me ‘David’ but most seem more comfortable using Dr. or Professor followed by my last name. I have a quirk that I do not like being called Mr. Bellamy. One of my colleagues told me that this was because that was my father’s name, not mine. Maybe this explains it.


    1. Freshman students got into the habit of calling me “Miss” and I had to ask them several times not to. I told them it’s perfectly fine to address me with my first name but most seem shy to do so. In writing, however, this “Hey!” thing has become common, and I dislike it.


  3. Do you mean “Hey Dr. Clarissa,” or just “Hey,”?

    I think the former is okay if it is a student you have communicated with a lot and who is writing about a casual matter, or is following up on a matter that has required a flurry of emails (in other words to break the monotony of using the same salutation repeatedly over a short time). But in a first email from a freshman it is a *little* over-familiar.

    Of course “Hey,” alone, with no name, is always rude in written communication. Perhaps you could respond in a very formal way? In spoken communication whether it is rude or not varies. We usually tell children that hay is for horses and then ignore their attempt to get our attention to break them of the habit, but your students might be a little old for that particular admonishment. 🙂


      1. Well, then that is totally rude.

        Even as a TA I have never received a lone “Hey”, but I do know the phenomenon of the student who writes from an indecipherable non-university email account and doesn’t sign the email. How are we supposed to know who they are?!


  4. I think that language changes over time and that there isn’t anything NECESSARILY wrong or rude about addressing someone with “hey.” That said, I do think that writing to a professor demands more courtesy, and I personally would never address a professor that way. I think you’d be justified in sending them a friendly but firm reminder that you’d prefer to be addressed more professionally. But unlike Paul Tiderman, I disagree that “hey” shouldn’t be used at all. It has its place in casual conversation.


  5. Perhaps, after making it clear to your students that it is unacceptable, you should discard any emails that do not address you appropriately. And when the student complains that they emailed you, you can explain that that message was meant for someone else named, “Hey.” I mean, why not address you as, “Yo!”?


  6. Even from high school freshmen, I don’t accept “Hey!” as a stand-alone greeting. When I write them back, I generally include a PS reminder that when writing the salutation of a letter, it’s nice to include the recipient’s name. I’ve never had a student repeat the error.


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