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A survey of Westchester colleges and universities revealed that no formal policies addressing faculty-student dating are in place, but many schools said that a prohibition against such relationships is implicit in other policies regulating professional conduct."We view this kind of relationship as inappropriate," said James Bryan, Dean of Students at Manhattanville College.
A Gray Area Representatives from the State University of New York at Purchase, Marymount College, Sarah Lawrence College, Pace University, Westchester Community College, Iona College and Mercy College also said that such relationships were discouraged by the administration though not specifically addressed in college policies.
But administrators, professors and students alike say that the issue of faculty-student dating is a complex one.
Some say that the unequal power in a relationship between a student and a faculty member -- particularly one who is in a position to grade or make recommendations about the student he or she is dating -- is inherently exploitative.
Others cite happy marriages of professors to their former students.
Several psychologists who teach at local schools also stress the difficulty of regulating human behavior, regardless of what's printed in a college policy handbook.
A scenario that has been raising concern on college campuses might go something like this: He is a middle-aged English professor, an expert on Henry James, who appears worldly and sophisticated in his tweed jacket while lecturing to his class. The appropriateness of faculty-student dating is being discussed on campuses throughout Westchester, echoing a nationwide debate about whether such relationships should be tolerated, regulated or banned altogether.
She is an 18-year-old freshman, starry eyed and entranced by her teacher's apparent brilliance and sensitivity. Faculty members at the University of Virginia recently voted to prohibit sexual relationships between professors and the students they supervise. Are they two consenting adults in love, or is it sexual harassment and exploitation?A more stringent regulation, which would have banned romance between all professors and undergraduates, was voted down."I can understand the impulse to legislate against this kind of thing," said Dr.Suzanne Kessler, Associate Professor of Psychology at SUNY Purchase."But most of what we're talking about is not what falls under a strict definition of sexual harassment.