Harvard University has put an official ban on romantic and sexual relationships between professors and undergraduates, Bloomberg reports. That means all professors are banned from having sex/dating all undergraduate students. No fucking a student you met at nickel shots night off campus and certainly no fucking anyone whose T.S. Eliot paper you have to grade.

"Undergraduates come to college to learn from us."Alison Johnson, a Harvard history professor who helped author the policy, told Bloomberg News. She added, "we're not here to have sexual or romantic relationships with them."

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But what is college if it not a place to transgress sexually and exercise poor judgement? If two consenting adults want to complicate their lives by fucking across academic hierarchies, they should go ahead and knock themselves out, right?

My own initial reaction to this news was a reflexive tut about the "nanny state" of college campuses. However, it seems that these bans, although difficult to enforce, are actually worth being in favor of.

Let's think through this without the current histrionics of college campus politics. Allow me to offer a quick corollary about organizational responsibility versus individual responsibility.

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I used to be a union organizer. My colleagues and I were explicitly forbidden from sleeping with workers (current union members or potential ones). This seemed like a very reasonable policy. When we would start on an organizing drive or a strike in a workplace, we went in with the espoused goal to raise wages, dignity, and respect for workers. We achieved these goals through pressure campaigns run on the employer (weirdly, employers don't really like to part with money!). Fucking dues-paying members during a campaign or afterwards seemed antithetical to those very noble goals we set out to achieve. We were professionals (we were not even allowed to wear blue jeans when we organized a worksite because it made us seem too casual, too unserious) and given the high stakes nature of an organizing drive, there just seemed like too much to lose just to get your rocks off.

We had no power over the workers; there was no great imbalance to exploit. We left that up to the bosses. If they won or lost the campaign, it had no effect on our salaries or standing within the union. Yet sleeping with workers was enough of a taboo that after six years of working on campaigns, I seldom heard of that rule being broken.

But back to school. Consider the espoused goals of the university classroom. Are these goals better served by professors being able to fuck members of the student body with impunity? How many students per semester should they be allowed to fuck before it's considered a 'problem'? Six? Fourteen?

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How about just one? They get to fuck one student every semester.

This does not seem like a reasonable policy.

Well, you could argue, what if these professors just fuck and date students whose grades they have no influence on? Then no one is put in a bad position.

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OK, what if that professor only teaches seniors but they fuck as many freshmen as they can. Then what if that same teacher is promoted to a position as an administrator or a dean? Will they shake the hands of the students they fucked three years prior then hand them a diploma?

Consider how much money and effort it takes on behalf of that student to be a part of a university. SAT tests taken, other schools turned down, and student loans amassed. Shouldn't the institution honor that level of effort by explicitly discouraging staff from fucking tuition-paying students?

Another question arises: who is being protected by the ban? The students, the professors, or the university itself? It is notoriously difficult for universities to control the way students behave with other students. However, the university can exert some level of influence over how its employees behave with students. These bans ultimately protect the university from the shitty behavior of their employees with the added benefit of buffering students from it as well.

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Further, where is there greater potential for harm:

A) Make the Don't Fuck Students rule implicit.

B) Make the Don't Fuck Students rules explicit.

Implicit rules are not rules, they are suggestions. Implicit means "trust professors to make their own calls." By making the rule explicit it raises the stakes on a teacher who wants to break this very reasonable expectation.

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Nevertheless, declaring total war on personal relationships is largely unenforceable unless you want some sort of college sex police squadron (which, I admit, sounds erotic). Much like the war on drugs, the sex ban raises the stakes when lines are inevitably crossed. It is, however, reasonable to ensure that professors who fuck undergraduates put their relationship with the university at risk. Having an explicit ban is the right spirit: oblivion-seeking professors should find better hunting grounds.