Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Yale bans undergrad/prof sex and love

 The December 11 headline in the Yale Alumni Magazine reads-

“New policy for profs: don’t sleep with undergrads. Period.”

Of course, it could have read-

“New Policy for undergrads, don’t sleep with profs. Period.”

The article reported on the new Yale policy which prohibits all “sexual or amorous” relationships between Yale undergrads and their teachers.

In a memo to the faculty, Provost Peter Salovey  announced a stricter stance toward consensual faculty-student relationships. Previously, such relationships with undergrads were permitted if the teacher had no “pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities” over the student.  For grad students, a sexual or amorous relationship remains OK if there is no pedagogical relationship.

Why Yale grad students have a sexual prerogative with profs and undergrads do not is explained in the policy-

Undergraduate students are particularly vulnerable to the unequal institutional power inherent in the teacher-student relationship and the potential for coercion, because of their age and relative lack of maturity. Therefore, no teacher. . . shall have a sexual or amorous relationship with any undergraduate student, regardless of whether the teacher currently exercises or expects to have any pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities over that student.”

So putting the justification in dankprofessor terms, Yale undergrads are just too immature, they are not real adults like the Yale grad students and profs. So when these Yale undergrad kids grow up, Yale will allow them to have sex with the grownups of their choice, but still with some limitations, of course.

Maybe it might be better for Yale to reevaluate their whole admissions policy and only accept applicants who are mature.  An elite Yale education should be for persons who are already grownups.  If such was the policy, maybe Yale administrators would stop regarding Yale students as kids.

Of course, there is more.  The policy explains that without the new ban the integrity of the student prof relationship is at risk- “The integrity of the teacher-student relationship is the foundation of the University’s educational mission.”

What utter poppycock! If such puts the foundation of Yale at such great risk, how has Yale managed to survive for so many years and have had so many outstanding graduates?

But there is still more.  The policy goes on to state-

“In addition to creating the potential for coercion, any such relationship jeopardizes the integrity of the educational process by creating a conflict of interest and may impair the learning environment for other students…such situations may expose the University and the teacher to liability for violation of laws against sexual harassment and sex discrimination.”

The dankprofessor calls this the demonization of sex.  Sexual demonization is the underlying dynamic fueling all the crusades to ban, degrade, eradicate myriad forms of sexuality.  Yale becomes at one with the Christian right and the New England witch hunting zealots of centuries past.

And without doubt just about anyone could stand accused under this policy.  Those who are not sexual but just a bit too amorous can easily become suspect.  And as many of us know, those sexually accused are all too often assumed to be guilty, even at Yale!

This situation at Yale exposes the University to possibly becoming violators of human rights and human dignity.  But such a possibility hardly ever restrains those who are committed to eradicating the sexually impure in our midst.

December 14, 2009 - Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, love, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Yale University


  1. Hello.You know this must be aspecific American issue.I never heard statements of that kind in the Scandinavian University world, and i dont believe its a big issue in the rest of Europe either.Good luck with the American no.1 neurosis.
    Yours,Walther Metzler.

    Comment by Walther Metzler | December 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. When will this madness end?
    I believe it will end when either:
    1)Legal action is taken by any disciplined professor, or other employee against the college, and an enlightened court (judge or jury trial)sees beyond the antiquated “employment at will” common law doctrine. Also, said court should see beyond “political correctness”, and realize that this doctrine is actually “left wing McCarthyism”, which curtails many freedoms, in the name of correcting some ills!
    2)Protests by faculty & students alike shame the university out of enforcing these antiquated “rules”, which are more properly enforced where adults deal with minors, under the age of consent!
    One other point: What if the undergraduate began his /her college education late, and is over 21 to start? Should the repressive rule apply to, say a professor dating a 25 year old undergraduate student?
    I urge ANY unmarried professor/employee to OPENLY DEFY the ban, by allowing himself/herself to be seen publicly at an off campus restaurant or movie theater with any student, including one in his/her class. Then, if the university “takes action”, a test case should proceed. Hopefully, supporters of the professor will contribute to the legal costs, or perhaps a sympathetic law firm will take the case on a contingent basis, or at lower than standard fees.
    It’s high time that the repression which was unleashed with the publication of “The Lecherous Professor”, in 1984, is FINALLY reigned in!!

    Comment by Donald Visconti | December 15, 2009 | Reply

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