In February, a new plan will be presented
to the University Board of Regents, regarding the current policy
for student-faculty relationships at the University. For the past
20 years, the University has strongly discouraged student-teacher
relationships without directly forbidding them. Many other schools,
such as the University of California at Berkeley and the University
of Iowa, have banned all relationships between faculty and
students. The University’s proposed guidelines would not
forbid such relationships, but would place heavy restrictions upon
them. This is a positive move that will benefit all involved.

Kate Green

This new policy will be pro-active through a three-step
approach. First, teachers involved in relationships with their
students will need to report it to the administration. Second, the
administration will attempt to take the student out of the
instructor’s classroom. Third, if the student cannot be
placed into a section with a different instructor, the
administration will force the student and faculty member to
terminate the relationship until the semester ends. If an
instructor does not abide by this policy, he or she will risk
dismissal from the University. This new policy will only affect
relationships in which the faculty member has a direct influence on
the student’s grade. It will not concern relationships in
which the faculty member is not involved in the student’s
academic endeavors.

This policy will assure that instructors cannot exploit their
positions of power and take advantage of students in their classes.
It also means that faculty members will have a diminished incentive
to hide a relationship with a University student. Above all,
because it forbids instructors from dating their students, it
actively discourages student-faculty relationships that create a
conflict of interest.

Overall, the proposed policy would be progressive without being
impractical. This new policy would create a fair and realistic
compromise between the three parties. It would provide faculty and
students with the freedom to enter into romantic relationships but
also would allow for the protection of both parties in the cases of
abuse. It protects the administration, as well as faculty members
from frivolous lawsuits by disgruntled former students. Finally, it
ensures students will not be pressured into relationships with
professors out of fear of academic retribution.

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