Graduate to Sex (?)

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Sitting on our dinner table I say “Hey did you all read the article that Harvard officially bans sex between undergraduate students and teachers?”

My girls begin to giggle, looking at each other and say “Just like Aria and Ezra.” “Who are they?” I ask.

“Oh,” they say, “from the show ‘Pretty little Liars’. In it, Aria is a student and she is involved with her teacher, Ezra. If the teacher looks like Ezra,” they continue, “who wouldn’t?”

I still remember the crush we all had on the Research and Methodology professor during our post graduate days. If rumours were true, he did eventually marry a former student. Many a heart were broken. For most of us the crush is just a fantasy. But in today’s world of permissiveness is it more common to act on it?

Harvard followed in the footsteps of colleges like Yale (which banned student-faculty relationship in 2010), but other institutions say just to hold off until after graduation.

The faculty of Arizona State University themselves voted to prohibit them from dating whom they might reasonably be expected to have academic authority over, in January.

Self-regulation; is it possible or do we need official banning?

As Devdutt Patnaik in his column said ‘Banning anything is not right or wrong. It is the price we have to pay for civilization, because not everyone has the maturity to voluntary regulate themselves.’

A relationship with a student is often an abuse of power and an abuse of the position. Teaching has been considered a noble profession and the GURU in the Indian context is a respected person, who holds a position of influence and who enlightens the mind of the disciple. Thus the role is to enlighten not to corrupt, which is likely to happen if the relation between teacher and student is one of sex.

Is it only because faculty can influence grades or share feedback or help beyond the classroom that we ought to ban? Isn’t it just ‘not right’?

Is it initiated usually by the teacher, or is it the student who initiates it?

I think the more we ban, more likely it is that our internal compass stops working and the more we rely on outside regulation. As is said, ‘Ethics begins where law ends.’

So let the crush on the handsome maths teacher continue to remain just a fantasy. Don’t take the next step.