Reviews | When professors have relationships with students


For the publisher:

Although I know this is an unpopular position in the current political climate, I am against the ban on teacher-student relations, unless the student is actually in the teacher’s class at the time of the case, in which case there is an obvious conflict of interest, since the professor is marking the student.

The standard argument against professor-student relationships is that there is an inherent power imbalance, especially if the professor is male and the student is. But in which relationship is there not an imbalance of power?

Moreover, it is not clear that the power rests entirely on the professor’s side. Yes, teachers have an age, status, authority, diplomas. But students may conclude that they don’t want to continue having sex with this senior and throw it in favor of someone their own age. So, does the professor really have all the power in the relationship?

It is true that teacher-student relations generally do not go well. However, institutions do not have to intrude on the privacy of consenting adults and dictate to them what they can and cannot do in their rooms. It’s Big Brother again.

Henri gonshak
Butte, Mont.
The writer is professor of English at Montana University of Technology.

For the publisher:

As a recent college graduate, I found Amia Srinivasan’s essay brought a refreshing dose of clarity and nuance to teacher-student sex. But as many colleges resume in-person teaching, college administrators should think about how they can respond to the fruit at hand: the epidemic of sexual assault that female students must anticipate.

Consensual sex between a student and a teacher is one thing. Non-consensual sex between two students is another. Before the pandemic, one in four women suffered rape or sexual assault in college, according to the national network Rape, Abuse & Incest.

I worry about my sister, who I recently dropped off at college, and her friends. Far too many students are raped, and often the perpetrators suffer only minor consequences. We have injured ourselves enough during this pandemic. Can we change course?


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