Dating Students College Professor

This is a generation that has grown up with relatively low expectations in the realm of happily every after. Theirs is a world where most embrace group activities, punctuated with the periodic hookup, and communicate largely in digital bursts of characters instead of in person. Only one of the 15 students did. The next semester, she made the assignment mandatory, and some students began choosing the course specifically for that reason, saying they had trouble asking people out on dates on their own.

Cronin is associate director of the Lonergan Institute, a philosophy research center at Boston College. She now teaches a philosophy class for freshmen and sophomores that includes discussions of personal ethical and moral choices, and the optional dating assignment is part of the syllabus. MICHELE MCDONALD FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE Kerry Cronin right on the last day of her class that examines philosophy, relationships, and personal development.

Her assignment delineates specific boundaries so students know what to expect. The date has to be 45 to 90 minutes long with a person of legitimate romantic interest. The student has to pay and has to make the invitation not by text or e-mail but in person, which Griffin did at a BU dance recital he attended with a mutual friend. The date cannot involve alcohol, kissing, and sex.

A more stringent regulation, which would have banned romance between all professors and undergraduates, was voted down. A survey of Westchester colleges and universities revealed that no formal policies addressing faculty-student dating are in place, but many schools said that a prohibition against such relationships is implicit in other policies regulating professional conduct. A Gray Area Representatives from the State University of New York at Purchase, Marymount College, Sarah Lawrence College, Pace University, Westchester Community College, Iona College and Mercy College also said that such relationships were discouraged by the administration though not specifically addressed in college policies.

But administrators, professors and students alike say that the issue of faculty-student dating is a complex one. Some say that the unequal power in a relationship between a student and a faculty member -- particularly one who is in a position to grade or make recommendations about the student he or she is dating -- is inherently exploitative.

Others cite happy marriages of professors to their former students. Several psychologists who teach at local schools also stress the difficulty of regulating human behavior, regardless of what's printed in a college policy handbook. Suzanne Kessler, Associate Professor of Psychology at SUNY Purchase. In fact, the more problematic ones are the ones that seem consensual. Everyone brings up the case of the long-term, happy relationship, but that's a rarity.

What you are really trying to do is smoke out the professor who every semester picks up a student to have a relationship with -- the habitual offender," she said. It is precisely because this type of relationship is apparently consensual that regulation becomes problematic. Instances where a professor demands sexual favors for a grade or recommendation clearly constitute sexual harassment, for which there are policies and sanctions already established.

But many administrators refer to faculty-student dating as "a gray area," where individual maturity levels, professor's marital status and questions of direct supervision play a role. Professional Conduct A relationship between a student and a young faculty member or teaching assistant who is finishing his or her master's degree, is single and close in age to that student, may present a different scenario from that between a student and an older, married faculty member, said Terrell V.

Illustration by Alex Eben Meyer Some things in academia never change. This is not just icky—it is highly damaging to the profession. Because not only are these relationships almost always an unacceptable abuse of power, they also affect the dynamics of departments, entire fields, and the very act of academic mentorship altogether.

So why does it still happen other than the fact that people enjoy having sex? When a student and faculty member start sleeping together, rarely is it a well-kept secret; often, the student becomes a departmental pariah. Without support from fellow students and, often, dismissed by the other professors in the department , many of these once-promising grad students wind up out of the discipline entirely. When a professor dates a graduate student, no matter how it turns out for them, it harms everyone in the department.

In my discipline, the term for a dissertation adviser is Doktorvater or Doktormutter.


Student-Faculty Dating: It's Not in the Rule Book


Yale College Publications 2017–2018

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