Why Harvard Officially Banned Professor-Student Relationships

Harvard University officially instituted a ban on sexual relationships between professors and undergraduate students this week. The decision followed Harvard’s review of its policy against sexual and gender-based harassment, as universities all over the country face investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for Title IX violations.

Harvard professor Alison Johnson, who led the panel that wrote the updated policy, explained that the ban is a formalization of an existing culture, which frowns upon student-professor relationships. Still, having that culture codified is crucial, she told HuffPost Live on Thursday.

“There’s an argument that the presence or absence of the policy isn’t an indication of the presence or absence of a culture, where this kind of behavior is not acceptable,” Johnson said. “I believe that it’s good for us to have the policy. I believe that that general expectation, the reliance on ethical behavior, is good, but having a policy, for us I believe, even better.”

The unequal status between professors and students can complicate relationships, insisted Mic staff writer Marcie Bianco.

“What we’re not also addressing is that in sexual relationships, power is very much at play,” Bianco said. “In fact, power is almost a critical element in any relationship —> Read More Here


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