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The Sex Police at Yale

Monday, April 5, 2010, 15:10 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Via Glenn Reynolds, I learn that Yale University has officially banned sex between faculty members and undergraduate students.

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.

On the surface, this seems like a no-brainer. But when you consider that lower-level faculty, such as instructors and adjunct professors, may be recently out of graduate school, you realize that socially, they are the students’ peers. At a large university, they may not even encounter one another in an academic situation.

And what of the faculty member whose young spouse, who never finished his or her degree, chooses to take advantage of the family tuition benefit to enroll at Yale? Are they exempt from the rule? Is it really anyone’s business to consider?

No answers here, just thinking out loud.

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