Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Universities Tighten Rules on Faculty-Student Relationships: interesting dilemma. It seems to me that rules that completely prohibit relationships between faculty and students, such as the one at UC, go too far. The several examples of happy marriages beginning with such relationships are compelling counterexamples to the argument that they are always "wrong." Clearly, these relationships represent conflicts of interest to the professor, who should be forced to recuse him/herself from evaluations related to the student, etc. However, rules that go beyond enforcing these recusals are on shaky ground, especially the vague UC rule that only prevents relationships if the professor is or may "reasonably expect" to be in an authority position over the student. One could argue that since most professor-student relationships do not work out well, these more restrictive rules help to protect students. However, even if data exists to substantiate that assertion, we could just as easily ban all kinds of relationships with a low probability of success by the same reasoning. College students are old enough to be trusted to decide for themselves whether entering into such "high risk" relationships is a good or bad idea.
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