Harvard professors are no longer allowed to engage in "sexual or romantic relationships" with undergraduates or with grad students under their direct supervision, Bloomberg reports. Previously, student-teacher relationships were frowned upon, but only officially prohibited when the student was in the professor's class.
The school's decision to prevent consenting adults from making their own horrible choices in mating comes after Yale and UConn introduced similar policies. Harvard is presenting it as no big deal: History professor Alison Johnson, chair of the panel that approved the new rule as part of Harvard's review of its sexual assault policies, told Bloomberg it hasn't been contentious on campus.
The American Association of University Professors however, is very aware that student-teacher relationships are officially okay at many schools. And although the AAUP says these situations can lead to "exploitation," they don't think telling professors they're not allowed to bang undergrads is the answer.
"These relationships are going to occur on campus and you must put as many ethical checks on them as possible, but a blanket prohibition doesn't seem appropriate," an AAUP senior program officer told Bloomberg.
Maybe she's right. Maybe a one-size-fits-all-professors-who-want-to-sleep-with-students rule just punishes professors who are totally chill about banging their young charges for the sins of the bad seeds who abuse their positions of power to get laid.
Will making it an official policy have any practical effect, though? Bloomberg seems to think most students believed sleeping with professors was already prohibited.
Seems like all it achieves is giving student-faculty relationships that were already on the downlow additional incentive to stay that way, and possibly covering Harvard's ass in case anything scandalous should come out.
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