Yale Bans Sex Between Faculty and Students

Thanks to the tireless efforts of one man, Yale has banned sex between faculty and students.

After more than a quarter century of debate, Yale faculty members are now barred from sexual relationships with undergraduates—not just their own students, but any Yale undergrads.

The new policy, announced to faculty in November and incorporated into the updated faculty handbook in January, is “an idea whose time has come,” says Deputy Provost Charles Long, who has advocated the ban since 1983.

In his decades at Yale, Long has seen many faculty-student romances. Most turn out fine, he says, but others are destructive to students. “I think we have a responsibility to protect students from behavior that is damaging to them and to the objectives for their being here.”

Previously, the university had prohibited such relationships only when the faculty member had “direct pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities” over the student. That remains the rule for affairs between faculty and graduate or professional students, and between grad students and undergrads.

There’s not much doubt that a power relationship exists between faculty and students.  And that, for all but the youngest faculty members and the oldest undergrads, there’s a certain creepiness brought on by the age disparity issue.

As a practical matter, though, such policies are next to impossible to enforce.  As with bans on office romances, they run against the combination of proximity, compatibility, and human nature.

via Glenn Reynolds

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Steve Plunk says:

    This is not comparable to office romances. Putting the creepiness aside faculty/student relationships are often about power, naivete, and economic disparities. It’s a special and unusual relationship that exists between students and those who hold their future in their hands.

    These policies should be in place and should be enforced. The only difficulty in enforcing them will be the willingness to actually do something when the policy is violated. I can’t see a collegial faculty senate doing much about lecherous professors when the incidences occur.

  2. Franklin says:

    There’s a line here. The old standard is perfectly reasonable, although I could certainly see some cases of indirect pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities being borderline. The new rule uses a pretty broad stroke, I’m curious if this guy thinks that the state should protect all college-age people from old creepy men (and cougars, too).

  3. James Joyner says:

    It’s a special and unusual relationship that exists between students and those who hold their future in their hands.

    Yale has long banned relations between faculty and their own students. This extends it to ALL Yale students. That’s different.

  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    To the head of the English Department

    Dear Madam:

    I am afraid I must refuse your kind invitation to teach Writing for the Kidlit Hack due to unforeseen circumstances.

    Best,
    MR

    PS: do you know anyone at Brown?

  5. Wayne says:

    Come on these are professionals. Most offices are supposed to full of professionals as well. Shouldn’t we expect them to act professionally? Screw human nature and reasonable expectations. It is not like we are expecting them to act perfect like we expect even young soldiers to act. (Sarcasm off)

  6. Triumph says:

    And that, for all but the youngest faculty members and the oldest undergrads, there’s a certain creepiness brought on by the age disparity issue.

    FYI, Most students at Yale are graduate students.

    I am not sure how “creepy” it is if you have, say, a grad student in their late 20s engaged in a relationship with a faculty member in their late 30s.

  7. James Joyner says:

    FYI, Most students at Yale are graduate students.

    But the new policy has to do with undergrads. The policy for faculty-grad student relations remains unchanged: It’s fine if there’s no reporting relationship.

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  9. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Protecting their subordinates is what tyrannies do best.

    I wonder what President Obama’s NAMBLA-loving education advisor is going to have to say about this.

    Aren’t the college students of today “of a certain age” legal-wise? Don’t some of these students have parents? Where are the facts to support this incursion?

  10. Triumph says:

    But the new policy has to do with undergrads.

    My bad. The policy still sux, though!

  11. Triumph says:

    I wonder what President Obama’s NAMBLA-loving education advisor is going to have to say about this.

    Aren’t the college students of today “of a certain age” legal-wise? Don’t some of these students have parents? Where are the facts to support this incursion?

    Screw Obama–he’s a Harvard man!

    Luckily, Bush is a Yalie, through and through. He was a cheerleader for chrissakes. I am sure he will burn his diploma as a form of protest.

  12. JKB says:

    Of course this impossible to police. The real benefit is when the “couple” let their relationship issues become public, i.e., they are speaking or start involving other people, you can fire or expel them. Thus, the idiot couples aren’t able to adversely impact the workplace or in this instance the campus.

    Nothing is more satisfying than telling a feuding couple, you have 20 minutes to make this go away or you’re both fired. The solution is simple, you can have all the relationships you want as long as you’re mature enough to keep it from affecting others in the office or campus.

  13. TangoMan says:

    The continued march of infantilizing our nation’s youth.

    You’re old enough to vote and fight a war but you’re not mature enough to decide for yourself the type of relationship you wish to enjoy.

    What is it with this Nanny mindset that is content with using top-down restrictions on freedom of association in order to preclude people from suffering emotional boo-boos? They even acknowledge that the majority of such relationships don’t cause harm, yet in their Nanny Quest they’re willing to deny “the greater good” in order to prevent a few people from suffering emotional pain.

  14. TangoMan says:

    High school girls are mature enough to decide for themselves, without parental involvement, on whether they should undergo an abortion, but when they grow older and have greater depth of emotional judgment and maturity, and are adults, they’re deemed not mature enough to decide whether to engage in a romantic relationship with an older man, who has no direct power relationship over her.

    I’m trying to find the logical thread which justifies both positions but I’m not having much luck.

  15. Franklin says:

    The continued march of infantilizing our nation’s youth.

    To some extent, this is the product of what we call being more civilized. It actually has its similarities with the fact that human infants are by far the most helpless infants in the animal kingdom. As our capability to protect our young increases, our young will prolong the time they need protection. I’m not sure if this is entirely good or bad.

    In a rarity, I also feel you may actually have a point with regards to the high school abortions. High five, TangoMan?

  16. An Interested Party says:

    I wonder what President Obama’s NAMBLA-loving education advisor is going to have to say about this.

    Where are the facts to support this assertion?

  17. Brett says:

    they’re deemed not mature enough to decide whether to engage in a romantic relationship with an older man, who has no direct power relationship over her.

    I don’t know if it’s a “no direct” power situation in that scenario. An enemy in the faculty of your department (particularly a really bitter one) can make your life miserable, and spread all kinds of bad rumors.

  18. TangoMan says:

    An enemy in the faculty of your department (particularly a really bitter one) can make your life miserable, and spread all kinds of bad rumors.

    Why would an enlightened, liberal professor ever engage in condemning a student based on the student’s romantic relationship? Isn’t that a condemnation of personal choice, and of an “alternative” lifestyle?

    Oh wait, that is the modus operandi of many liberals, (condemning TEA Parties as racist when they’re not, etc) so yeah, you’re right that your scenario is within the realm of possibility because it is built on a very plausible foundation that speaks to patterns of behavior for many, though certainly not all, members that adhere to a particular world view.

    The problem here is that the student shouldn’t have their rights diminished in order to potentially protect them from depraved rantings. Rather, those who engage in depraved rantings should be dealt with.

  19. Julie Anne Burton says:

    Oh, what a load of bull. The overwhelming majority of college students are over 18. This means they are supposedly adults. They’re old enough/mature enough to VOTE, but they’re not old/mature enough to decide on whether or not a relationship is appropriate for them?

    Good grief.

    I am *so* sick of the Nanny State. We all need to grow up and accept personal responsibility for our actions and their consequences.