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It’s not just a matter of two consenting adults’ hearts wanting what they want.Because not only are these relationships almost always an unacceptable abuse of power, they also affect the dynamics of departments, entire fields, and the very act of academic mentorship altogether.Such is the case here, and thus I somewhat question the motives of the author of the post, Kelly Anders. Asking the question creates the illusion that there is a real controversy. I addressed this question a long time ago, in an early post here barely seen at the time but among the most frequently visited since.
” The answer is, has been, and forever shall be, “No.” The answer to an ethics question sometimes becomes obvious when it is apparent that every argument on one side is either a logical fallacy, an unethical rationalization, or the application of an invalid ethics principle.
A teacher always has superior power over any student by virtue of his or her position of authority, and it is an abuse of that power to use it to entice students into dates or bed…[It] is naive to ignore the extended conflicts such relationships create.
Might the professor’s best friends on the faculty be more generous when grading their friend’s significant other if he or she is one of their students?
(Just count the times this author uses the word “hero.”) Thus, the master/protégé dynamic cements power differentials that are simply too pronounced to create a healthy relationship, Not to mention the fact that grad-student/faculty relationships literally ruin careers: When a student and faculty member start sleeping together, rarely is it a well-kept secret; often, the student becomes a departmental pariah.
Without support from fellow students (and, often, dismissed by the other professors in the department), many of these once-promising grad students wind up out of the discipline entirely.
Movies have featured them, books have centered on them. But they've also led to power struggles, charges of coercion and abuse of power.