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Harvard University just banned sex between teachers and students

In case it wasn’t clear: It’s not okay for
professors to sleep with undergrads.
Harvard’s
Faculty of Arts and Sciences (the university’s
largest division ( http://www.fas.harvard.edu/pages/what-fas ) , comprising the
undergraduate Harvard College and
many graduate departments) has now made
that explicit in a revised policy.

The old policy on inappropriate relationships
warned against “amorous relationships”
between faculty and students or junior
colleagues, but stopped short of
banning them. The new policy ( http://www.fas.harvard.edu/files/fas/files/sexual_and_gender-based_harassment_policy_and_procedures_for_the_fas_.pdf )
(pdf), announced Monday, is very clear:

> No FAS Faculty member shall request or
accept sexual favors from, or initiate or engage
in a romantic or sexual relationship with, any
undergraduate student at Harvard College.
Interestingly, Harvard does not prohibit
relationships between professors and all
graduate students in this division, just the ones
whom a professor is supervising or teaching in
some way. In those cases, professors and
graduate students may enter a romantic
relationship as long as “the supervision has
concluded and, if applicable, a final grade on the
student’s supervised academic performance has
been submitted to the Registrar.” The same
guidelines apply ( http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-05/harvard-bans-professors-from-having-sex-with-undergraduates ) to relationships between
graduate students teaching undergraduates.

Alison Johnson, the professor heading
the committee that determined the changes,
summarized it to the Boston Globe: ( http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/02/05/harvard-professors-banned-from-having-sex-with-undergrads/jKt4YooYpD76Caj4mdPB8K/story.html )

> “If you and I are sitting next to each other on a
ski lift, and the sparks are flying, and it turns out
I’m a professor in the history department, and
you’re a senior at the computer science
department at Harvard, now we are done,” she
said. “No more sparks. I ski off to the left, and
you ski off to the right.”

The US Department of Education is currently
investigating ( http://qz.com/308490/campus-rape-a-guide-to-the-debate-thats-roiling-american-universities/ ) many prestigious
colleges, including Harvard, to examine whether
they have mishandled sexual violence
complaints. That would violate Title IX of
the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibiting
gender discrimination (which applies to sexual
harassment cases). The government agency
recently found in a separate investigation that
Harvard Law School had violated these federal
policies ( http://qz.com/319569/how-harvard-law-school-violated-us-sexual-assault-law/ ) .

The probes are part of a larger movement (
http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-
department-education-releases-list-higher-
education-institutions-open-title-ix-sexual-
violence-investigations ) to address campus
sexual assault. The university has been
conducting a review ( http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/07/a-new-sexual-assault-policy/ ) of its harassment policies and making
changes, some of them controversial ( http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/03/us/harvard-
to-bring-on-specialists-to-examine-sexual-
assault-claims.html?_r=0 ) , to how it
investigates sexual assault allegations.

Harvard sent Quartz the same email statement it
has also provided ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2015/02/05/harvard-formally-bans-sexual-relationships-between-professors-and-undergrads/ ) to other news outlets ( http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/06/education/new-harvard-policy-bans-teacher-student-relations.html?partner=rss&emc=rss )
regarding the change:

> As part of a formal process to review Harvard
University’s Title IX policy, the Faculty of Arts
and Sciences Committee on Sexual Misconduct
Policy and Procedures, led by Professor Alison
Johnson, determined that the existing language
on relationships of unequal status did not
explicitly reflect the faculty’s expectations of
what constituted an appropriate relationship
between undergraduate students and faculty
members. Therefore, the Committee revised the
policy to include a clear prohibition to better
accord with these expectations.

Author : Sonali Kohli

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