Sexual attraction

Pearse Ward wardp at
Sun Apr 2 21:08:52 EST 1995

In article <3lneg0$1sl at>, janesails at
(Janesails) wrote:

> Regardless of the circumstances, it is ALWAYS wrong for faculty to sleep
> with students.  It is not the student who does wrong by seeking sexual
> relations, it is the faculty for seeking or engaging in relations.

I would politely disagree. It is not "ALWAYS" wrong for faculty to have
any kind of relationship with students. It would be improper for a faculty
member to be involved with a student in his/her class or who he/she was
directly supervising. That would be a clear conflict of interest. It would
also be wrong for a faculty member to visit unwanted or unrequited sexual
attention upon a student. However, it would be equally wrong for a student
to engage in similar activity.

The last time I checked 99.9% of all university students were adults. It
is ludicrous for the state, the university, or you to tell me or any other
adult who I can or cannot sleep with. Abuses of power are worng. It is
wrong for a faculty member to use his or her position to extort sexual
favours from students and it is appropriate for universities to have clear
and enforcable sexual harassment procedures, but don't insult my
intelligence by telling me that I as an adult am incapable of making my
own decisions.

> power balbance is too strongly tilted toward the faculty for this to be
> appropriate or acceptable.   Period.    End of lesson.  

This may be true in the case where the faculty member is teaching or
supervising the student, in which case it would be prudent to change that
realtionship before initiating a sexual relationship. However, if I decide
to sleep with a faculty member in another department, who has no contact
with my program then whose business is it but mine. I would go so far as
to say that even if you did sleep with your immediate supervisor, that is
your concern. You ought to be adult enough at 19 or 20 to realize the
possible consequences of your actions.

Most schools have
> strong prohibitions built into their faculty guidlines or codes which are
> breached in the norm, only to surface if the behavior (homosexual) or
> publicness of the behavior forces the administration to confront the
> issue.   More often the student is hurt, their career damaged, and the
> faculty able to move on to the next "favored" student.  No one has
> published a study of student suicides that looks hard at the frequency
> with which an ended student faculty affair contributed to the student
> despair. . . .  but you can imagine.
> Jane A. Petro, MD

I can imagine that you are talking nonsense. I can imagine that there are
far more (by orders of magnitude) failed affairs between students that
have been the cause of suicides. By your reasoning then, we should
obviously ban all sexual contact between students since there is a remote
chance that a jilted lover will kill themselves.

Universities have no right to regulate the personal lives of their faculty
or students. They have no more right to tell students and faculty that
they cannot have sexual relations than they have in banning homosexual
relationships between students or between faculty members. Just how far
are you prepared to take this? Would you advocate no sex between junior
faculty and senior professors, or perhaps between experienced seniors and

This is an extension of the "victim culture" sweeping north America. It is
yet one more sign of an abrogation of personal responsibility. University
students a re not children. They are adults and most are perfectly capable
of making their own decisions. There will always be cases of naive
students who will be taken advantage of by unscrupulous classmates, older
students, or faculty members. Unfortunately, that is part of life. You
cannot legislate a nice safe world for everyone without creating an
authoritarian state where freedom to choose how one will live one's life
is denied for fear that someone, somewhere will be offended.


              "To someone with a hammer, many things
               look like nails that need banging in"

Pearse Ward
wardp at


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