Schools romances teaching professional dating
But just as more workplaces are banning relationships between superiors and their employees, we need to guard against unequal liaisons that could lead to favoritism or retribution in the classroom, in recommendations, in career paths.
Some schools, such as Duke, even allow the relationship to continue as long as the professor notifies a superior and gives up any supervisory role."We felt it was more productive to frame it that way than to condemn the relationships and to in effect run them underground," explains Peter Burian, a classics professor and the chair of Duke's Academic Council when the policy was passed a couple years ago.
" says Gayle Binion, a professor of political science at the University of California at Santa Barbara and the chair of the academic senate when it developed and approved the new rule.
"We recognize that among graduate students and faculty, these relationships develop, but it's not appropriate while you're overseeing a student's work."Aside from a group of Berkeley professors who were vocally opposed, as well as the student representative to the Board of Regents, Dr. If the policy had been in place a year earlier, it might have prevented the scandal involving the dean of the Berkeley campus's law school who resigned after a student - whom he claimed he was seeing consensually - accused him of sexual harassment.
In the past decade, schools such as Yale, Duke, Ohio Wesleyan, and the College of William & Mary have enacted similar bans, some stricter, some more lenient.
The majority of universities may have no official policy at all, but more are moving from vague statements "discouraging" faculty-student relationships to specific bans."I always say the real story is, what took us so long?
"One of the ways people understand sexual harassment is the belief that when women say no, they really mean yes.
These policies say that when they say yes, they really mean no." Just because a few such relationships end badly, she adds, isn't a reason to ban them all. Virginia Lee Stamler, an Iowa City psychologist who co-wrote the book "Faculty-Student Sexual Involvement," says all the justifying theories don't take into account the reality of most student-professor relationships.
The University of California's decision is unusual in its scope - it affects an entire system - but it's hardly leading the pack.
Others see it as protectionism - a throwback to an "in loco parentis" version of the university that doesn't account for the myriad complexities of individual relationships and that could, more widely, put a damper on even nonsexual friendships between faculty and students.
Either way, it highlights some questions about the ethics of relationships, especially when they involve a difference in authority, and who has a right to govern those relationships.
Many, like Binion, see the stricter policies as clarifying what should already be an ethical norm.
But others wonder what right the university has to interfere in something so personal, especially when policies against sexual harassment and unfair grading already exist.