College professors dating their students

The details vary, also the kinds of catastrophes prophesized—once it was plagues and crop failure, these days it's trauma and injury.Even over the last half-century the narrative has drastically changed.

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But while engineering students may still pair-bond with professors of Restoration drama in California, many campuses are moving to prohibit all romance between any professor and any student.

Feminism has taught us to recognize the power dynamics in these kinds of relationships, and this has evolved into a dominant paradigm, the new propriety.

Consider the Freudian account, yesterday's contender as big explanatory story: Children desire their parents, this desire meets up with prohibitions—namely the incest taboo—and is subject to repression.

But the desire persists nevertheless, occasionally burbling to the surface in the form of symptoms: that mysterious rash, that obsessional ritual.

(Along with all the well-established marriages that started as student-teacher things, of course—another social reality excised from the story.) Let's imagine that knowledge rather than protectionism (or institutional power-enhancement) was the goal of higher education. Here's an idea: "10 Signs That Your Professor Is Sleeping With You To Assuage Mid-Life Depression and Will Dump You Shortly Afterward." Or, "Will Hooking Up With a Prof Really Make You Feel Smarter: Pros and Cons." No doubt we'd all benefit from more self-knowledge about sex, but until the miracle drug arrives that cures the abyss between desire and intelligence, universities might try being educational instead of regulatory on the subject.

PHOENIX — Arizona State University faculty voted Monday to revise a policy on dating between faculty and students, which might avoid more situations like Tasha Kunzi says she found herself in with a grad-school professor in 2010.

For a more pessimistic account, peruse some recent treatments of the student-professor hook-up theme—Coetzee's—in which learning has an inverse relation to self-knowledge, in which professors are emblems of sexual stupidity, and such disasters ensue that it's hard not to read these as cautionary tales, even as they send up the new sexual correctness.

Of course, societies are always reformulating the stories they tell about intergenerational desire and the catastrophes that result, from Oedipus to faculty handbooks.

" (OK, it was me.) David seemed oddly flummoxed by the question, and began anxiously jangling the change in his pants pocket. He started mimicking the female student, tossing her mane around in a "notice my hair" manner.

People shouted suggestions for other pretest scenarios for him to perform. Someone who studies street gangs whispered to me, "They've lost control of the room." David was jangling his change so frantically you had to strain to hear what anyone was saying.

What's excised from the new story is the most controversial part of the previous one: childhood sexuality.

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