Policy on Teacher-Student Consensual Relations < Yale University
The phenomenon of student-teacher romantic and sexual relationships is one that is found across many. Faculty-student relationship: A romantic perspective I will be talking about is not what falls within the strict definition of sexual harassment. There are a few factors in play that make the professor-student relationship meaning that it isn't illegal or theoretically immoral for romantic relationships to.
The most prominent among these technological advances is the rise in popularity of social networking and matchmaking sites such as DateMySchoola website dedicated to college dating established in These new technologies modify certain aspects of the current system of relationship formation, rather than fundamentally changing it.
Participants in these services who are looking for a face-to-face relationship still tend to impose geographical and group-based limitations on the pool of potential mates. This indicates that, despite the increased number of possibilities, users still value the possibility of an offline relationship. Participants use the services in order to meet others who are outside their social circles, but still attempt to impose some limitations to maintain the possibility of a physical relationship.
When students use the internet to find and create relationships, the most common bonds formed are on the level of friends and acquaintances.
About ten percent of those interviewed reported one or more romantic relationships that had originated online. They found that there is no significant difference in between those ranking high and low in risk for social or dating anxiety in the types of relationships that are formed through the internet.
The difference lies in the fact that those with high anxiety indexes used webcams to communicate with people they had met and maintain their relationships.
Stevens and Morris speculated that webcams allow for some of the benefits of face-to-face communication while retaining some of the buffering effects of cyber-communication, alleviating the social anxiety of the user.
Date rape and Sexual violence Dating violence occurs in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and is defined as verbal, physical, psychological or sexual abuse to either gender. Physical abuse includes all forms of intending harm onto others: Regardless as to where the abuse comes from, the end-effect usually leaves the victim feeling used.
Yale University Publications 2018–2019
Colleges have also started education programs aimed at reducing the incidence of date and acquaintance rape. One priority is getting victims to report sexual assaults, since they are less likely to report one if it is an acquaintance. While the consequences and social problems of these relationships are relatively clear in elementary and secondary settings, the issue becomes more complicated in a university.
The fact that the vast majority of college students are at or above the age of consent means that romantic relationships between faculty and students are not necessarily illegal. This differentiates the issue from concerns over such relationships in elementary and secondary schools. If a student and a professor are in a relationship while the student is enrolled in that professor's class, there is the possibility that their relationship could create conflicts of interest.
Besides the potential breach of classroom etiquette, there is also concern over grading impartiality. Another possible issue that since professors have so much power over their students in matters of grading, recommendations, etc. College Women on Dating and Mating Today" pg Retrieved 2 November Syrett 28 February The company he keeps: Retrieved 17 November Tixall letters; or The correspondence of the Aston family, and their friends, during the seventeenth century, with notes by A.
Differences that make a difference: Retrieved 14 November College men and masculinities: John Wiley and Sons. Folklore and the Construction of Violence Against Women. Sociological perspectives on e-dating. Using the internet as a means of connecting to others. Concern about the potential problems resulting from consensual sexual relationships between faculty and students has led some universities to enact formal policies16 and others to set less formal guidelines for faculty behavior.
Some examples will be given later in this paper. Despite these few recent developments, it is clear that there is still a substantial level of confusion in the academic community about the basis for any such standards.
In general, teachers are given little or no guidance as to how to deal with this issue.
College and university dating
The remainder of this paper will attempt to develop a framework for discussion of this issue, based on the considerable literature arising from cases in the health professions and a consideration of what constitutes a productive mentoring relationship.
The fiduciary must act with the utmost good faith and solely for the benefit of the dependent party. All of these professions carry a special trust not to abuse the seen or unseen dependent elements that inevitably develop.
Further, such relationships may have the effect of undermining the atmosphere of trust on which the educational process depends. Implicit in the idea of professionalism is the recognition by those in positions of authority that in their relationships with students there is always an element of power.
It is incumbent upon those with authority not to abuse, nor seem to abuse, the power with which they are entrusted…. Other amorous relationships between members of the faculty and students, occurring outside the instructional context, may also lead to difficulties. Relationships between officers and students are always fundamentally asymmetric in nature. A teacher and student may simply be at the same institution and have no direct relationship.
On the other hand, there may be a reasonable potential for a relationship to occur, for example in the case of a department chairman or dean, on whom the student may need to depend at some point. It is in such relationships that the need for both closeness and boundaries are at their greatest.
Clinical supervision in the mental health professions carries special needs for appropriate boundaries because of their relative levels of intensity, intimacy, personal disclosure, and isolation2,5 Levinson19 p. In his role as guide, he welcomes the initiate into a new occupational and social world and acquaints him with its values, customs, resources and cast of characters.
As exemplar, he serves as one whom the student can emulate. He may sometimes serve as a counselor in times of stress. This role may be reflected in relatively immediate functions, such as grading, or in more temporally indefinite functions such as the writing of letters of recommendation for advanced training, licensure, or career opportunities.
The first is what Levinson19 p.
The mentor represents a combination of parent and peer; he must be both and not purely either one. If he is entirely a peer, he cannot represent the advanced level toward which the younger man is striving.
If he is very parental, it is difficult for both of them to overcome the generational difference and move toward the peer relationship that is the ultimate though never fully realized goal of the relationship. Next is the issue of mutuality,1 and this is probably where the challenge of the mentoring relationship to maintain appropriate boundaries becomes greater than in other professional relationships.
As good teachers, we expect our students to contribute to our own professional growth. We learn from what they read, we want to be challenged by their questions, and we like to see their success as reflecting, at least in part, on our own professional expertise and devotion to them.
Faculty-Student Relationships | Office of the Provost | University of Pittsburgh
A part of this mutuality is our social interaction with our students, especially in a close academic environment. They can enhance working relationships in the training environment. They help acquaint the student with the people and the culture of the profession he or she is planning to enter. They may help contribute to the personal development of the student. And such activities reflect a concern with the development of the whole person, not only a well-educated professional.
In this way, our role as teacher is similar to that of a parent or a therapist. In an article outlining the characteristics of a helping relationship, Rogers21 wrote about the importance of warmth, caring, liking, and interest, all of which reflect a degree of closeness to our clients.
We must each give up the master without giving up the search p. The mentoring relationship traditionally has held special problems for women. And when a man becomes interested in guiding and advising a younger woman, there is usually an erotic interest that goes along with it.
What follows from that are many combinations we can easily recognize: The kicker is that the relationship of guide and seeker gets all mixed up with a confusing sexual contract. Almost without exception, the women I studied who did gain recognition in their careers were at some point nurtured by a mentor.
When a woman is in the position of power, she, too, holds this responsibility. Conroe and Schank2 suggested a guideline, at least with regard to clinical supervision, emphasizing the importance of finding a balance that suits the situation at hand. Sexual involvement not only has profound symbolic significance in a relationship, but it is relatively easy to define in operational terms. We may treat students differentially, not because of their academic or clinical qualifications, but because of a personal regard or attraction.
Boundaries, therefore, refer to a spectrum of activities that have the potential to exploit the dependency of a student in a number of ways. Boundary violations compromise the integrity and effectiveness of the student-teacher relationship.
If the professional relationship is an administrative one, the student may lose a potential resource for assistance in areas such as financial aid, career counseling, and so on. A dual relationship can confuse roles for the student, who is no longer sure what the relationship to his or her mentor should be. And eventually, that person is too much like her father for her own developmental good. The known existence of a sexual relationship and its tacit acceptance by the academic community reduces the tendency to discuss the issue openly, either as an institutional issue, or as an issue in clinical supervision.
Finally, one must consider the potential of personal harm to the student, especially if there is a history of poor self-esteem, dependency, or victimization.
As with patients who become over-involved with their therapists, the betrayal of trust and sense of loss can sometimes lead to depression and a need for psychiatric care. First, we need to be aware of risk factors — those things that may lead to a blurring of appropriate boundaries.
There are a number of factors that could reflect a psychological vulnerability on the part of the student, such as low self-esteem, a need for authority, a pattern of repeated victimization, or difficulties with a personal relationship. For example, a student may see her teacher as the kind of father she wished she had.
Boundary Issues in Teacher-Student Relationships - AdvocateWeb
There are risk factors for the teacher as well. As with therapists, we sometimes see a pattern of predatory sexism related to a characterological impairment. Attempts by the student to terminate the disturbing aspects of such a relationship often result in either intimidation or dependent, demanding entreaties on the part of the professional.
Teachers may exhibit their own psychological vulnerabilities, which play out in relationships with their students. There may be times of our lives when we begin to doubt our attractiveness or our effectiveness and feel that we need to test ourselves. Most of us get into the business of helping partly to satisfy our own narcissistic needs. We need to be needed, and that sometimes makes it hard to let go of our charges. We may be experiencing difficulties in our own personal relationships, and it becomes tempting to reach out to a student who, at the very least, respects who we are and what we do.
Even if we do not take such an initiative, we may find it harder to resist the initiative made by a needy or seductive student who hopes that we can fill personal needs that transcend our role as mentors.
Finally, there is a set of risk factors that are inherent in the professional or institutional setting itself. For example, a faculty member experiencing little collegial support from other faculty members, may depend excessively on the loyalty, sympathy and support of a devoted student. We need to be honest with ourselves about whose needs we are meeting, when we invite a student to work with us, when we decide which students we may involve in a special project or in a social engagement, or to whom we tend to disclose certain kinds of personal information.
We may sometimes need to see if there are other ways for us to get certain of our own needs met, whether at home, in therapy, or through our colleagues. We also need to treat the challenge of maintaining appropriate student-teacher boundaries as an open issue. This should be done both in the orientation of new faculty members and as a part of the training and supervision of our students. The maintenance of healthy boundaries is not only something that teachers need to do in their own relationships with students.