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.
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.
It is precisely because this type of relationship is apparently consensual that regulation becomes problematic.
Instances where a professor demands sexual favors for a grade or recommendation clearly constitute sexual harassment, for which there are policies and sanctions already established.
I can understand certain circumstances where the professor appears almost God-like and therefore is highly regarded by the student.
The young person can feel in love and can fall prey to any manipulation on the part of the professor," he said. Cancro said that under such circumstances it is the professor's responsibility to maintain the boundaries of the relationship.
Everyone brings up the case of the long-term, happy relationship, but that's a rarity.
What you are really trying to do is smoke out the professor who every semester picks up a student to have a relationship with -- the habitual offender," she said.
Student-Patient Analogy Some professors make the comparison between a faculty-student relationship and a relationship between a therapist and a patient, which is always considered unethical by professionals.