you can’t stop our love!

I was reading a post by noted Liberal apparatchick and Ignatieff enthusiast Warren Kinsella, and it piqued my interest. Apparently, there was some blogging going on about conduct by a professor at the Concordia. I took a somewhat opposite view from Warren and the Professor, in that I generally think that two consenting adults should have the right to enter into whatever kind of relationship that they want. I can understand some reasonable limits to protect the primary focus of the institution, and ensure the integrity of the academic process (ie. students should generally not be sleeping with the profs that teach their classes or the TAs who mark their papers), but other than that, I don’t think that telling two adults who are part of a 100,000 strong community that they cannot be in a relationship is at all reasonable, especially when such a relationship does not create a conflict of interest.

I wondered what the UBC policy was on the topic, and it turned out that it is, helpfully, Policy 3, Section 4.7.2, which reads as follows:

4.7.2. When power differentials exist amongst or between faculty, staff, and students, those holding positions of authority shall not abuse, nor seem to abuse, the power with which they are entrusted. Such relationships include, but are not limited to, those between a coach, an academic advisor, an instructor/professor, a counsellor, a residence advisor, a tutor, a thesis/practicum supervisor, a research head, or a director and his or her subordinate, junior colleague, or student. Anyone who enters into a sexual relationship with a person where a professional power differential exists must realize that, if a charge of sexual harassment is subsequently lodged, it will be extremely difficult to defend the conduct on grounds of mutual consent.

Now, UBC seems to go further, and say that anything is OK, but that the person in power is pretty much on their own if they are accused of abuse of that power (which I would assume would include manipulation of the academic process). It turns out that this is reasonably consistent with some other Universities’ policies from across the country. UofT has a conflict of interest provisions. Queen’s, in a way that only Queen’s can, dances around the issue as masterfully as Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Apparently, at Queen’s University, according to my sources there, this particular policy could be applied to the Grad Student-Undergrad relationship. It should be noted that this policy seems directed at relationships involving female undergraduates, in this wonderful new double standard world that we’re living in. To illustrate, a mini intrablog from a friend of mine, a female undergrad at Queen’s.

I hate that I have to disclaim what I’m about to say, but I say the following as a feminist and someone who has been active in the Women’s Movement. I hate it that in the court of public opinion, to be a female undergrad and against these kinds of regulations is to be the slut who’d sleep with their TA or Prof for her own goals. This is something different, and it’s about how these policies are applied.

I notice that these policies are always talked about in the context of Younger Female-Older Male relationships.  No one is concerned about gay couples, or Older Women-Younger Men. These policies are about protecting the virtue of the poor, helpless, naïve female undergrads being taken advantage of left and right. It’s a modern manifestation of repressive Victorian attitudes, and a blatant double standard.

I think it boils down to this: These types of policies are transferring the control of my personal life and freedom to sleep with who I want from me and the older men whom I might want to sleep with, to the older feminist academic who doesn’t think I have the capacity to make my own choices, and has decided to make them for me, all under the guise of liberation.

Universities used to be on the edge of sexual liberalism fifty years ago. This was the era of free love and low consequences. We’ve come a long way since then. I’m certainly not saying that in the age of AIDS, we should be less careful about who we sleep with, but I think that there are reasons that campus is, in many ways, becoming a driving engine towards sexual conservatism. The problem now is that it’s coming from the left. The theory, which I’ve reduced here in a somewhat perjorative way, is that women are somehow less responsible for their actions then men are, particularily when both are under the influence of substances that they themselves voluntarily consumed. (An interesting, if reactionary, article on this subject can be found here) This seems rediculous to me – every woman that I’ve met at this campus is strong enough to make her own decisions. Now, I’d like to point out that this particular brand of left-wing lunacy never reached the kind of conclusion that it reached at the University of Deleware, mandatory indoctrination programs, but that’s not to say that it couldn’t.

So what do you think? Should students be able to sleep with their professors, and what kind of limits should be placed on this type of relationship? Which prof at UBC would you most like to sleep with – hmm, we’ll take some nominations, and name UBC’s sexiest professor…

Have at thee!


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