Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

University of Iowa to extend its dragnet

The dankprofessor has previously reported on the University of Iowa policy prohibiting consensual sexual relationships between professors and students. And after some reevaluation of this policy, the powers that be at UI are concerned that some consenting couples may escape from the UI dragnet due to ambiguous wording.

And as reported in the UI campus newspaper, actions are being taken to correct this oversight-

“The UI is looking to revamp its policy on consensual relationships involving students after unclear definitions of a student and an instructor and a case involving the fuzzy identifications.

At today’s UI Faculty Senate meeting, the group is predicted to vote unanimously in favor of adopting the revised policy that uses clearer language to identify “instructor” and “student,” said Steve McGuire, a UI professor of curriculum and instruction.

The current definition of an instructor – updated in 2001 – only requires couples to report a relationship between a “faculty member” and a “student.” The policy was ambiguous on whether “faculty” included teaching assistants, academic advisers, coaches, permanent dorm staff, or other instructional personnel. Under the revised policy, all would be required to report a relationship with a student.

“Gaps were identified in the policy and protections, and this is an attempt to fix that,” said Craig Porter, a UI clinical professor of pediatric academic administration.

The UI Dispute Resolution Committee requested to review the policy in January 2007 after an incident where the definition of “student” was blurry. Porter said the committee also recognized that in a number of places on campus, the policy was not effective or useful.

A student is defined as those “who have matriculated” the educational program at the UI, postdoctoral fellows, medical residents, and minors served by outreach summer programs and camps.

Porter said that a handful of instructor-student relationships are reported to the UI Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity each year. He added, however, that some become complaints of sexual harassment.

Regardless of who initiates the relationship, the instructor is responsible for following the policy.

“We also have reason to believe more are going on that are not reported,” Porter said.

Romantic relationships are prohibited in an instructional context, or when an instructor is directly or indirectly instructing, evaluating, or supervising a student’s academic work or participation in a UI program. When the policy is violated, an instructor is usually punished and sometimes terminated, Porter said.

McGuire said he doesn’t expect much debate today because the policy “made a lot of sense.”

Two weeks ago at the UI Faculty Council meeting, the group voted unanimously in favor of the policy.

“Any policy needs to be reviewed regularly,” McGuire said. The consensual relationship policy “is consistent with the goals and current time.”

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

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February 6, 2008 - Posted by | consensual relationships, fraternization, higher education, sexual policing, sexual politics, student professor dating, University of Iowa

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