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Posted by / 31-Oct-2016 11:12

Professor dating student

What constitutes "power" varies across contexts and individuals.For example, although the University's formal rules would not explicitly recognize a student in an extracurricular organization to have power over a student who would like to join that organization, one or both of the students in question may perceive their relationship to be affected by a power dynamic.A sexual or romantic relationship between a faculty member and a person for whom he or she has professional responsibility (i.e., as a teacher, adviser, evaluator, or supervisor) is inherently problematic. It is incumbent on faculty members not to abuse, nor to seem to abuse, the power with which they are entrusted.Faculty members are prohibited from initiating or engaging in romantic or sexual behavior with undergraduate students at Princeton University.When such a complaint is brought forward, the Dean normally conducts an inquiry and, if appropriate, submits his or her findings and recommendations to the President under paragraph IV.

The previous policy at Connecticut was to "strongly discourage" any relationship in which there was some sort of "power imbalance between the parties." In fact, the vast majority of American colleges have no specific prohibition against relationships or sexual interactions between professors and their pupils, though many have suggested that they may not be such a good idea.

While there’s a troublesome power dynamic at work here—a tenure-track economics professor’s relationship with a freshman in his macroeconomics class, whose grade he determines, is obviously different from any relationship that student might develop with another economics professor; likewise, that freshman would have a different relationship with another freshman—nobody seemed to think this one was such a big deal. If a professor were to approach (or text message) a student today to ask for a date it would strike many as incredibly inappropriate. While it’s true that that UConn prohibition extends to any professors and any students of every gender, the traditional dynamic here is a male professor and a female student.

In my own family, when my grandfather’s sister left Smith in the 1950s in order to move to North Carolina and get married to her geology professor, no one questioned her decision. Research from 1990 about sexual harassment indicated that while harassment does occur between same-gender faculty and students and between female professors and male students, such cases were “statistically insignificant.” In 1993, after many colleges started placing restrictions on sexual relationships, Jane Gross wrote in the that they seemed to be “inspired by feminists on campus, who point to the inherent power imbalance between a professor who gives grades and writes recommendations and a impressionable young woman who is either flattered by the attention or fearful of spurning it.” The issue, furthermore, was “propelled by growing recognition that sexual harassment is a serious problem that could land professors and administrators in court.” A professor can’t sleep with his students for much the same reason bosses can’t sexually harass their secretaries without potentially running into real legal trouble: some of the victims started to speak up.

A 1997 paper by Barry Dank and Joseph Fulda indicates that: Starting in the 1980's, a feminist literature emerged calling for the banning of intimate, organizationally based, asymmetrical relationships and the subsumption of such relationships under the rubric of sexual harassment.

Thus, when individuals in asymmetrical relationships engage in sexual behavior such a relationship is seen as sexual harassment with the person in the superordinate position viewed as the harasser and the person in the subordinate position as the victim.

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