On-Campus Affairs Show No Class

Here we go again.

Because of a high-profile affair between a student and an English professor some months back, the USF faculty is at odds again over whether the university should have a formal policy banning romantic relationships between professors and students. A lot of universities have such stringent policies. More do than don’t.

It’s a shame it has come down to this, but a formal ban – with some common sense wiggle room for the rare exception — probably works best.

Relationship chemistry – any more than human nature — will never, of course, be exempt from the college campus. But this is not about budding romance between peers; this is about something that is inherently exploitative – and too often winds up in a sexual harassment suit.

This is about conflict of interest. Corporations with less noble objectives than universities won’t tolerate it.

And this is less about the civil rights of consenting adults (albeit only technically so in some cases) than it is about the responsibility of an employer to ensure integrity – and protect the vulnerable. It cannot co-exist with conflicts of interest.

To reiterate; it’s too bad this has to be codified. But for those who need it spelled out – and most don’t – this is why: Professors shouldn’t date those they have leverage and influence over – whether as a grade-wielding instructor, a truth-espousing guru or a life-defining mentor.

In short, show some class. You’re the one in charge.

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