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Whether students or their teachers should ever act on such desires, however, has never been an untroubled question.To do so raises the possibility of both favoritism and exploitation.As a result, Kipnis herself became the subject of a disturbingly opaque investigation, although she was soon cleared.Then she wrote about Exactly what happened between the philosophy professor and his two students is not all that material to Kipnis’s argument: She is more concerned that the new university strictures permit only one view of student-faculty relationships, when in fact, like most human connections, they sprawl across a bewildering spectrum.My freshman American literature course presented me with many revelations, but one of the most indelible happened not inside the auditorium classroom where, twice a week, our professor stood onstage in front of more than a hundred 18-year-olds.Instead, it came as I stepped into the women’s restroom afterward, just in time to overhear two of my fellow classmates rhapsodizing over how cute the professor was, with particular attention lavished on his long, slightly bowed, denim-clad legs.
And I felt a little sheepish, too, since I’d secretly been thinking the same thing myself.Like a drunk person or a child, a student, by definition, cannot consent to a tryst with a faculty member.As Harvard’s policy puts it, “Even when both parties have consented at the outset to the development of a romantic or sexual relationship between individuals of different University status, it is the person in the position of greater authority who, by virtue of his or her special responsibility and the core educational mission [of the faculty of Arts and Sciences], will be held accountable for unprofessional behavior.” How did we get to the point of protecting young adults’ feelings by denying that their feelings count?Kipnis made a passing reference to the same professor’s involvement with a graduate student whom he claimed he had dated.Two students then made Title IX complaints against Kipnis, arguing that her essay (and a tweet) constituted “retaliation” against the students who filed the original charges.
(Harvard was found to have failed to comply with Title IX in responding to such accusations.).