Harvard’s New Professor/Student Sex Ban Will Spare The World Some Creepy Relationships And Very Bad Erotic Novels

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shutterstock_224701432Writers around the world are probably balling up their manuscripts about graying English professors having affairs with nubile young students, because Harvard  has just officially banned professors from having sex with undergrads.

The news will surely come as a surprise to the many students–and parents–who thought student-professor sex was already against the rules, but it is a recent move by the university. According to Bloomberg, Harvard’s policy previously just specified that it was inappropriate for professors to have sex with their students, which basically freed them up to sleep with undergrads they were not teaching.

This reminds me so much of the time on Friends when Ross dated a student and didn’t tell anyone because he thought they would think it was weird. But then he was moved by love to be proud and in the open and he announced to another professor–his boss–that they were happy and wouldn’t hide. And the other professor looks a bit bewildered and says, “Then … you’re fired?” as though it’s the most obvious thing in the world, which it probably should have been.

Rumors about randy professors and novels about sexy undergrads abound, but outside of erotic fiction, a relationship between a professor and an undergrad student under his or her supervision is creepy, inappropriate, and ripe for exploitation.

“Undergraduates come to college to learn from us,” said Alison Johnson, a Harvard history professor who chaired the panel that wrote the school’s new policy on student/professor relationships. “We’re not here to have sexual or romantic relationships with them.”

While student/professor sex does happen, the illicit nature of the coupling means that many people just sort of assumed it was already banned. Harvard senior Jack Smith told Bloomberg that most people he knew had thought it was banned already.

“It should have been the policy everywhere,” he said.

The new policy prevents professors from having romantic or sexual relationships with their own graduate students, but professors could still theoretically hook up with graduate students whom they do not supervise. Grad students, meanwhile, are allowed to have relations with undergrads as long as the grad students are not responsible for grading, supervising, or evaluating the undergrads in question.

This new ruling will probably spare the world a few creepy, exploitative relationships and a lot of very, very bad novels. As far as I’m concerned, that makes it a flawless victory.

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