Professor student dating relationships
To illustrate her point, Kipnis offered the example of a Northwestern philosophy professor (whom she didn’t know and didn’t name) at the center of a “murky and contested” complaint lodged by an undergraduate.
He was accused of getting her drunk at an art exhibition and then groping her while they slept, fully clothed, in his bed.
Like a drunk person or a child, a student, by definition, cannot consent to a tryst with a faculty member.
As Harvard’s policy puts it, “Even when both parties have consented at the outset to the development of a romantic or sexual relationship between individuals of different University status, it is the person in the position of greater authority who, by virtue of his or her special responsibility and the core educational mission [of the faculty of Arts and Sciences], will be held accountable for unprofessional behavior.” How did we get to the point of protecting young adults’ feelings by denying that their feelings count?
(Harvard was found to have failed to comply with Title IX in responding to such accusations.).
She feels that prohibitions on faculty-student dating are paternalistic and part of an increasing tendency to infantilize students as preposterously fragile “trauma cases waiting to happen,” rather than as adults acquiring the experience that will enable them to navigate a rough-and-tumble world.
Like many vaguely parental relationships, the pedagogic one can have a strong and unsettling erotic undertow.
Perhaps what makes pedagogy so potent also makes it inherently erotic.
Lines in the debate have been drawn more clearly in recent years.
As a result, Kipnis herself became the subject of a disturbingly opaque investigation, although she was soon cleared.
Then she wrote about Exactly what happened between the philosophy professor and his two students is not all that material to Kipnis’s argument: She is more concerned that the new university strictures permit only one view of student-faculty relationships, when in fact, like most human connections, they sprawl across a bewildering spectrum.