Monday, February 26, 2007

Faculty-Student Relationships

As we have been covering the professor-student relationship in Oleanna, I thought that it would be interesting to see what, if any, universities have specific policies establishing what is or is not acceptable in a relationship like John and Carol shared. Although most of the class agreed that Carol was the "villain" in this case, imagine if John's actions were explicitly sexual in nature. The University of Pittsburgh actually has a specific policy governing faculty-student relationships, which states:

"If an intimate relationship should exist or develop between a faculty member and a student, the University requires the faculty member to remove himself/herself from all supervisory, evaluative, and/or formal advisory roles with respect to the student. Failure to do so may subject the faculty member to disciplinary action" (

Had the exchange between John and Carol taken place at the University of Pittsburgh, what would the outcome have been? Is this policy fair? Do you think that university policies like this are necessary or useful?


Blogger Max Brown said...

Another thing to think about is how the individuals involved in the relationship are affected by the context that their relationship exists. For instance, a student-instructor relationship would seem likely to be more secretive than would be an inter-office relationship. Additionally, what happens to the institution after the relationship is revealed? I think that to a certain extent, it's objectiveness is compromised. Perhaps I am biased because while in High School, it was discovered that a person I sat next to in class was having familiar relations with our instructor. Not surprisingly, once the relationship was exposed, both the institution and the individuals involved came under extreme scrutiny.

1:23 AM  
Blogger Jeremy Byers said...

I think that if the exchange between John and Carol happened at the University of Pittsburgh it wouldn't have esculated like it did in the movie and book. Because they have the rules in place before hand that would of removed John from his advisor role he was in when they meet. The only thing is that what constitutes an intimate relationship, *cough* Clinton ordeal *cough*, i mean if there had not been any sexual actions taken besides flirting and saying he likes her, are they still under this policy. I am not sure if John and Carol would fall under this right away. I do think that this policy is useful but i think it needs to be more specific about what and whatnot can happen between a student and his or her professor.

3:15 PM  

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