New Harvard Policy Bans Teacher-Student Relations

The article written be Ashley Southall delves into Harvard’s recent ban on romantic or sexual relationships between students and teachers in response to Title X, federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education. The authors note that the unequal power balance in such relationships can be very harmful for a student, giving the teacher an unreasonable amount of control over their partner, thus deeming consent hard to establish. However, the drive behind this recent ban seems to be the possibility of the university being financially liable for any sexual misconduct. Universities seem to want to watch their own back rather than look out for vulnerable students.

Read an excerpt of the article written by ASHLEY SOUTHALL:

Harvard University has adopted a ban on professors’ having sexual or romantic relationships with undergraduate students, joining a small but growing number of universities prohibiting such relationships. The move comes as the Obama administration investigates the handling of accusations of sexual assault at dozens of colleges, including Harvard. The ban clarifies an earlier policy that labeled sexual and romantic relationships between professors and the students they teach as inappropriate, but did not explicitly prohibit professors from having relationships with students they did not teach. Harvard said Thursday that the change had been made after a panel reviewing the institution’s policy on Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education, determined that the university’s existing policy language on “relationships of unequal status did not explicitly reflect the faculty’s expectations of what constituted an appropriate relationship between undergraduate students and faculty members.” It said the policy had been revised “to include a clear prohibition to better accord with these expectations.” The change was recommended by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Committee on Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures. more