February 5th, 2015
Harvard University has adopted a ban on professors’ having sexual or romantic relationships with undergraduate students, joining a small but growing number of universities prohibiting such relationships. The move comes as the Obama administration investigates the handling of accusations of sexual assault at dozens of colleges, including Harvard.
The ban clarifies an earlier policy that labeled sexual and romantic relationships between professors and the students they teach as inappropriate, but did not explicitly prohibit professors from having relationships with students they did not teach.
Harvard said Thursday that the change had been made after a panel reviewing the institution’s policy on Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education, determined that the university’s existing policy language on “relationships of unequal status did not explicitly reflect the faculty’s expectations of what constituted an appropriate relationship between undergraduate students and faculty members.” It said the policy had been revised “to include a clear prohibition to better accord with these expectations.”