Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Sex at Yale

So Yale University has now formally banned sexual relationships between professors and ALL undergraduate students. Previously the ban applied only when the faculty member was in a supervisory relationship with a student.

It is this supervisory aspect that supposedly was the basic rationale for prohibiting student prof sexual relationships.  Such supposedly disabled profs from engaging in non-prejudicial grading and even if there was no grading problem such gave the appearance of a conflict of interest.  And those who were appearance obsessed argued that ultimately the integrity of the university was some how undermined.

The dankprofessor never bought into this as the real rationale. Academics were not and are not hung up on the importance of grading; in fact, grading occupies the low end of the academic totem pole.  It’s generally considered to be dirty work that can be farmed out to inexperienced teaching assistants.  What too many academics are hung up on is sex, particularly academics who see themselves as feminists, feminists who when they think about sex dread the existence of power differentials which are viewed as being omnipresent in heterosexual relationships.

So student professor relationships became the quintessential dreaded power differentiated relationships with the female student always being the helpless and victimized other in need of protection.  Or to put it in other terms, the new Yale ban is patently, openly anti-sexual; the anti-sexual brigades have taken over at Yale and in the dankprofessor’s opinion this is just the opening shot.

Just listen to Yale’s Deputy Provost Charles Long who has advocated student prof dating bans for many a year-  “I think we have a responsibility to protect students from behavior that is damaging to them and to the objectives for their being here.”  Obviously, people who think that sex is damaging are anti-sexual and would prefer to ban sex when such is possible.  And do note that Long makes no exceptions- he knows all that he needs to know- sex with professors damages undergraduates, end of story, no need to be concerned about students who do not want his protection.  No concern here about issues relating to consent or dissent.  Long has the power at Yale and he engages in power abuse par excellence in the area of sexuality.

The Yale undergraduate as child has no right to dissent when it comes to authoritarian Yale administrators. No matter that Yale students are considered cream of the crop, are widely held to be part of an intellectual elite.  These Yale students do not become full adults until they are Yale graduates.  The Yale mantra becomes wait until you graduate which effectively replaces the old traditional mantra of wait until you are married.

And no place in the new Yale policy is there any “grandfathering” clause.  A student and professor who are in an ongoing relationship which was consonant with the old policy now are in violation under the new policy. Breaking up may be hard to do but it is the only thing to do if one wants to stay in good graces at Yale.  OK, the student can drop out or the prof can resign.

And then there are those who say none of these dreaded things will come to be since the effect of the Yale policy will be to simply drive these people into the closet and in the closet they will be left alone.  Such represents the thinking of pipe dreamers.  The realists know that there is no shortage of Linda Tripps at Yale.  And they are waiting patiently for their right Yale professor and the right Yale student.  The “good” that these diligent informants can do is monumental; and all can be done in secret.  And I expect that Deputy Provost Long is prepared for the informants and the false chargers.  Or will he spare himself  by taking a flight into retirement?

April 10, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, feminism, grading, higher education, sex, sexual rights, student professor dating, Yale University | 1 Comment

   

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