Is this…really that difficult?
It might surprise you to learn that there are a fair number of universities that allow sexual relationships between students and staff. One would think that any respectable school would unequivocally forbid these engagements, in no small part because the imbalance of power in these situations in both real and potentially destructive. Nevertheless, numerous schools—Columbia and Rutgers among them, high-ranking institutions of higher education—all permit such trysts to varying degrees.
That is a strange thing. The modern university is well-known for its monomaniacal commitment to sexual libertinism: Most schools these days seem to have their own versions of a “sex week,” the purpose of which is to distribute several thousand gallons of synthetic lubricant to students while teaching them how to “peg” each other. There is apparently no sexual vice that universities are above; the only time they adopt an even remotely moral framework is at the urging of neo-Puritan feminists who believe that young men should be expelled for wolf whistling.
In that regard it’s not surprising that schools might let students sleep with their academic advisors or deans or presidents. And yet it is still kind of astonishing. Apart from being practically inadvisable, it just seems like bad optics: What school wants to be known as the one where staff have sexual liaisons with eighteen-year-old freshmen? Well, apparently many of them.
Of all the things wrong with the modern campus, this might seem like a relatively minor issue, and indeed there are more serious problems facing universities today. But this is nevertheless rather emblematic of it all. Banning sexual relationships between staff and students—between, for all intents and purposes, superiors and subordinates—should be a no-brainer, the sort of thing everyone can get on board with. The fact that it’s allowed in so many cases is deeply embarrassing for those universities, though one supposes, if they’re at this point already, they’re not very much inclined to feel shame.
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