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SAN FRANCISCO — Spurred by a scandal that toppled UC Berkeley's law school dean last year, University of California regents on Thursday approved a policy prohibiting professors and other faculty from having romantic or sexual relationships with their students.
With the new policy, which takes effect immediately, the university joins a growing number of American higher educational institutions that have restricted such relationships, saying they may exploit students."Just having this on the books will help change whatever behavior is problematic," said Gayle Binion, a UC Santa Barbara political science professor who heads the university-wide Academic Senate. colleges -- has had no systemwide ban on faculty-student dating.
Binion, who helped draft the policy, said that while she believes most faculty members already recognize such standards of behavior, it was important for the university to take a clear stand."The very integrity of the university's academic mission is dependent on the accountability of the faculty member as a mentor, educator and evaluator," she said. But six campuses, including Berkeley, have conflict-of-interest guidelines urging professors to recuse themselves from overseeing students with whom they are romantically involved.
The regents approved the policy on a voice vote, with two of them -- Regent Velma Montoya and student Regent Matt Murray -- asking that their opposition be registered.
In reality, however, many relationships have imbalances in status, salary, age, attractiveness and other factors.
Why, he asks, must the university legislate against them?
The potential problems stemming from sexual relations between professors and students were highlighted at the university last fall when the dean of the Boalt Hall law school announced his resignation after an allegation of sexual harassment by a former law student. The ensuing discussion was mostly about why this is not a good idea (and some about Dr. I'd made a not very deeply thought out comment about the intrinsic sexism in the situation. The specifics involved a female grad student dating a male professor (not on her committee) in the department.In either of the same department cases, there is a concern of what happens if the relationship breaks up badly.There is a good possibility of bad feelings within the department, but this is true if a dual hired pair goes through a divorce, or two tenure track faculty fall in love.
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Grad student sleeping with a professor who has any sort of power over them (teaching a class they are taking, the teacher for a class they are TAing, advisor/advisee relationship, committee member, etc.) is potentially coersive and universally a bad idea. If the relationship works, and the junior woman gets a job at the same university as her partner, she will be plagued by doubts about her achievements, but the woman in almost any spousal hire situation will have to deal with this no matter what the circumstances of the relationship are.