Grad student dating undergrad

Many universities have policies prohibiting romantic relationships between professors and students. Abramson, a UCLA psychology professor who specializes in human sexuality and teaches about sex and the law, examines and challenges these policies. Is it comparable to our freedom of speech and freedom of religion, or is it something we give to institutions?

"I want people to think about what is our personal sphere of autonomy," said Abramson, whose book, "Romance in the Ivory Tower," will be published this month. "My answer is that for consenting adults, this is clearly within the sphere of our personal autonomy," he said.

If you want an illustration for how this worked and was still working , do a little digging into the last forty years of the History Department at the University of Pennsylvania.

This is just one of the more public cases, featuring a grad school classmate of mine.

Tough new policies emplaced by universities and professional organizations are welcome, but they will not lead to the needed cultural change without the commensurate commitment of individuals to provide a safe, supportive environment for women and men to learn and work together productively.

An individual commitment entails disseminating a message of zero tolerance of sexual misconduct; educating faculty, staff and students about norms of workplace behavior and reporting pathways for their violation; and, most critically, publicly supporting the victims who come forward to report incidences of sexual misconduct. The American Historical Association only addresses the prospect of sexual relationships in their “Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct” in the section on “Employment,” and even then, it’s only to proscribe sex discrimination or sexual harassment, both of which happen to be illegal in most states and/or already forbidden by university policy.

Conflict-of-interest policies, Abramson said, can address issues of status differential and the potential for favoritism.As I’ve said here for years, physicians can have their licenses revoked for dating patients (or the parents of patients, in the case of pediatricians); attorneys can be disbarred for dating clients; counselors and clergy must abide by strict rules prohibiting sexual contact with the people they are counseling or offering pastoral care. What are the benefits to our teaching or research or to our professions that accrue from dating our students? When will you stop seeing them as a perk of your job, rather than someone else’s children?) Even in the most benign, consensual, “happy endings” in which professors and their students enter into a long-term, caring relationship, the students (all women, in the cases I’m familiar with) haven’t benefited unfairly from their marital association; in fact, in most cases it has caused all of these women at least temporary career setbacks if not complete career derailment.These kinds of unethical behaviors, which often involve powerful males and their female students or junior colleagues, traumatize the victims, impede equal opportunity in academia, and impoverish the intellectual landscape of our scholarly communities.As recent highly publicized news reports have made clear, the institutional response to cases of sexual misconduct often contributes to the problem [1-3].

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