Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Back to Ohio State University

   The dankprofessor has put off dealing with the second part of the report of the OSU Work Group on consensual student professor sexual relationships.  Well, now that we are into a New Year I will deal with the last part of the report.  And, there is really not very much to deal with; the core of their argument has already been presented.  In much of the second part of the report, the writers survey the relevant policies of other professions and conclude that universities which do not regulate student professor consensual relationships are professionally out of step.  They conclude their argument in the following terms-
The professional relationships described above are primarily one-on-one relationships, rather than with groups such as classes of students. However, many would argue that students stand in much the same relationship to their professors as do clients/patients to their lawyers, doctors, and therapists. Graduate and professional students, in particular, frequently work one-on-one with their professors, and undergraduate students have ample opportunities for one-on-one relationships. More importantly, students are in the same vulnerable position with their professors and staff as are clients and patients with other professionals, and hence students are equally subject to unfair exploitation.2″
   So boiling down their argument, it becomes that students and professors are pretty similar to the situation of patients and doctors.  My argument with this comparison is that it is patently absurd.  Easy for us to evaluate in the context of our personal experience.  I will frame the situation in terms of a few questions- How similar are your feelings of going into a medical office or a hospital to that of going into a class or going into a university?  Do you see your identity as a student to be quite similar to your identity as a patient?  For you, is university life and hospital life pretty much the same?  Do you hang out by the doctors office?  Do you socialize and dine with other patients?  Do you work with your doctor on evaluating patients or doing medical research?  Do you see yourself as part of a medical community?  Do medical doctors you know have social gatherings consisting primarily of their patients? 
   I could go on and on with these sorts of questions, and I think it is clear that the hospital and medical and therapy worlds are of a different genre from that of the university.  University life simply cannot be subsumed into some sort of homogeneous professional category; university life is in a category by itself.  And it is a shame that all too many persons such as the members of this Work Group want to take that uniqueness away.  Such is consistent with the agenda of some banning advocates with their goal of transforming the university place into just another workplace or corporate place.  God forbid that people will ever view hospital campuses as essentially interchangeable with university campuses.  In the dankprofessor’s opinion, it is hospitals that are anchored into medical schools and into university campuses that makes these hospitals more hospitable, more open places to be.  And, in addition, it needs to be pointed out that the hospitals that are teaching hospitals do not have bans on medical doctor/teacher and student relationships.  Somehow the OSU Working Group overlooked this point and it comes down to this- that in the medical university world students are not equated with patients and med students dating medical professors is viewed as not being subject to regulation.
   Then the Work Group concludes-
“The costs to the university are clear. Permitting consensual sexual relations between faculty and students threatens our ability to create and sustain the climate that both the Academic Plan and the Diversity Action Plan view as essential if Ohio State is to attain status as one of the great public research and teaching universities.”
   The conclusion is simply one of hyperbole and absurdity.  Can anyone free of a blinding ideology conclude that a university’s greatness can be undermined by students and professors being permitted to date?  Certainly such a freedom did not prevent the members of the Work Group from becoming employees at OSU.  If the Work Group is to be taken seriously, maybe their project is to escape from feelings of mediocrity and then once this policy is passed they would then be propelled into limelight of a great university.
   The Work Group then concludes its report with the following recommendations-

       “1. 1 The President should appoint a committee with the charge of examining the current consensual sexual relation policy to determine if the policy should be revised.

    1. 2. In addition to any issues the committee determines need to be examined, the following issues should be considered:

      1. a. What should be the standard governing consensual sexual relations between faculty and students?

      2. i. Retain the current strongly discourage standard.

      3. ii. Prohibit such relationships when the faculty member has some professional responsibility for the student and strongly discourage such relationships with other students (following Iowa, Indiana, and Arizona).

      4. iii. Prohibit such relationships with all students even when the faculty member has no professional responsibility.

      5. a. Undergraduate only.

      6. b. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional.

      7. b. Prohibitions regarding minors-clarify that this is illegal

      8. c. Regardless of the standard that is adopted, should faculty be required to report to their supervisors or other university officials (and should it be reported in writing) consensual sexual relationships with students?

      9. i. Privacy concerns, particularly with respect to same-sex relationships.

      10. d. Should the same rule be applied to staff who supervise students?

      11. e. Should the consensual sexual relationship policy be separate from the sexual harassment policy?

      12. f. What are the sanctions for violating whatever policy is adopted?

      13. g. Should students involved in these relationships be subject to sanctions?

    2. 3. The make up of the committee should include the following:

      1. a. Appointees from the following University Senate committees: Steering, Council on Academic Freedom & Responsibility, Council on Student Affairs, Diversity Committee,

      2. b. At least one faculty member with expertise on student development,

      3. c. Representatives from the AAUP, the President’s Council on Women, Office of Human Resources, Rape Education and Prevention Program, Counseling and Consultation Service, the Student Advocacy Center, and

      4. d. Three students – graduate, professional, and undergraduate.

    1. 4. The committee should conclude its work by submitting its written recommendations to the president by June, 2005.

Report to The President’s Council on Women From the Work Group Examining the University’s Policy on Consensual Sexual Relations Between Faculty and Students The Ohio State University, 1/2005 17″———————————————————————————If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration to the same email address.
Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2008

January 2, 2008 - Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, Ohio State University, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Uncategorized

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