Sexual Relationships between Students and Faculty Members

Sexual relationships between faculty members and students have largely been considered as harassment since in most cases they involve the use of influence against the student therefore blackmailing the student into performing sexual favors. In most such cases it is the student who is always the victim and therefore in need of protection. Therefore, most universities have policies against sexual harassment but lack a policy that provides guidelines in the event such a relationship exists, hence, assuming that the student is always the victim is sometimes misleading and consequently wrong (Pyke).
 To cast some doubt to this is the fact that some students actually approach their professors with the intention of engaging in a sexual relationship with them with the aim of ensuring good grades or sometimes, but rarely, just because they can. Therefore the question as to whether colleges should develop policies to address this issue is therefore rhetoric. Policies dont exist on these issues and it is generally considered covered under the sexual harassment policy which either totally condemns it while few others adopt a more liberal approach on the matter where they seek to protect their interests (Pyke).
Totally forbidding it doesnt mean that such relationships dont occur but it surely means that they occur discreetly, therefore putting the student in particular in great risk. A liberal approach is therefore important as it acknowledges that such cases occur but stipulates that it should not hinder or influence the judgment of the particular individual in such a way that they cant perform their duties as expected. This I believe ensures the safety and academic performance of the two individuals. I therefore agree that Universities should develop a formal policy that explicitly addresses romantic and sexual relationships between faculty members and students (Pyke).

What the Policy Should Contain
Most students perceive such a relationship as wrong and to an extent misleading, first because of the apparent age difference that might exist between the two individuals, but this is the case only among the older members. Secondly because of the image such a picture portrays of the two individual. This in most cases is the reason why such relationships are not encouraged across the board.
The formulation of such a policy should therefore incorporate a number of issues. To begin with there should be a guidance of how the whole procedure should be done. The guidelines should include all the procedures that are to be followed in the course of coming up with this policy. Adequate research should be done and the results should be conclusive. All the groups involved should also be consulted beforehand so as to accumulate the perceptions of both the students and faculty members. The rights granted by the university constitution should also be consulted. All this is to ensure that all aspects of the issue have been covered and everybodys rights and interests have been catered for. In light of this, students and faculty ideas should be publicly heard so that they can be debated and a consensus reached. This will ensure that the policy is all-encompassing and not biased towards a particular group as some of the college policies are today. Demands from the general student population are very important as they are informed on issues affecting them and therefore not including them in the whole process could prove negative. All these could be channeled through the students body after consulting the students themselves (Pyke).
This does not mean that the university should let the whole process be student oriented. Rather, it should come up with certain restrictions that will ensure that the faculty members are morally upright individuals. This is so because the university is responsible for the hire and fire of these individuals and within the agreed contract, there should be a clause that prohibits such a relationship on any grounds. All this is because the university is responsible for the safety of every student and therefore has a binding contract with the parentsguardians and the students, making the institution answerable in the event something wrong occurs.
A relationship as said earlier is based on the willingness of both individuals after clearly assessing the character and personality of an individual. It therefore is not coerced and if an element of coercion exists then it ceases to be a relationship and becomes harassment. The issue of willingness has been emphasized because it is only then that the said policy can protect an individual. Therefore, the issue of disclosure has to be within the policy. This means that the individuals, that is the student and faculty member, will either choose to or not to tell others about their relationship. There are various issues that will arise once the couple decides to go public One, what will other studentscolleagues think about the relationship And will it cast a doubt as to whether your performance as a student is directly linked to the fact you are dating a faculty member, lets say a professor Therefore the issue of disclosure should be exclusively left to the two individuals. But if there is need to then it should be clearly stipulated within the context of the policy (Pyke).

Where does it apply
This policy will be concerned with the conduct of relationships between faculty members and students within the same institution. It therefore provides the necessary guidelines as to how such a relationship should be conducted when both individuals are within the boundaries of the same. The guidelines are finite and if such a couple is caught violating the rules, then they are liable for punishment or a penalty as dictated by the policy since it is in place  to also protect them from each other. The policy should also apply to couples that have been together before they joined the said institution, for example the spouse of a faculty member may decide to pursue a degree in the same university where the husbandwife works. Therefore, they both fall under the same policy. But the priority of such a policy will be to control the conduct of student and faculty member relationship and protect them from either exploiting or being exploited by the other party. Therefore, the policy in this case should not condemn but discourage such a relationship (Pyke).
Such a policy therefore can be used to both discourage and control such a relationship. It discourages through ensuring that all the faculty members are morally upright individuals and it controls through ensuring that in the event such a relationship exists, certain guidelines are already in place to ensure that both individuals rights and responsibilities are protected. But it is common knowledge that such a relationship is always frowned upon by the society at large. This is because such relationships are often formed with an ulterior motive by either the student or the faculty member.
Therefore in most cases, the relationship always ends up with someone being used to his or her regret. Hence, it is important for such a policy to exist in order to ensure that both parties are protected and most importantly, that the party in the wrong can be identified and dealt with accordingly.


Post a Comment