Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Outing students

The dankprofessor has repeatedly argued  but to no avail that university regulations that require a professor who is in a sexual relationship with a student to report said relationship to the appropriate university administrator is a gross violation of the student’s privacy.  In terms of this policy, there is no requirement that the student must give permission to the professor to report their relationship to the University. 

My advice to professors who are in such a situation is to not report unless there is student consent.  More generally my advice is that if the professor does report to the administration, the probability is that said relationship will become known to the university community.  In effect, the professor will be outing both himself or herself and the student.

In terms of the Warwick case, the outing of the student was disastrous for the student.  She has framed it in the following manner-

“To be frank, this story has never been newsworthy and should never have come to light. Aside from the fact that the details disclosed have been of a deeply personal nature, the widespread disclosure of this has proved very upsetting. It really has.”

And the University World News has reported the following:

When Professor Istvan Pogany, 57, began a consensual relationship with one of his students at Britain’s University of Warwick, he did what many would consider ‘good practice’ and informed his line manager. But the student, who is in her 30s, then fell pregnant and her subsequent anguished decision to have an abortion led to lurid headlines that raised the question again whether intimate relationships between academics and students should be more strongly discouraged, or even prohibited.

Of course, the University World News didn’t get it quite right.  The Warwick case raises the question as to whether professors should be forced to report on their students and their intimate relationships.  If privacy had been respected at Warwick, there is little likelihood that this would have become a media story.  Laissez faire in terms of intimate relationships between adults may at times be problematic, but it is far better than forcible intrusion by government authorities and university administrators into the sex lives of those who they consider to be their subjects.

January 27, 2009 - Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, outing students, privacy, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Uncategorized, Warwick University

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