Student-faculty romance is dangerous and unacceptable


[dropcap]A[/dropcap]dam Van der Zwan’s opinion piece entitled “Student-faculty romance. Sorry, where’s the problem?” further perpetuates the need to constantly satisfy our every desire instantly. In the age of fast food, fast fashion, and instant messaging, we have become so used to fulfilling our needs quickly, diminishing the need for waiting. We neglect to really take time to think and look seriously at the potential consequences. Pursuing a relationship with a professor will indeed incur many consequences that can be incredibly damaging to both parties.

Like many other students, I too have come across professors and faculty members who are incredibly attractive. Every week, I feel my heart beat faster whenever they begin their lecture, and always find excuses to go talk to them during breaks and office hours. But fantasizing and whispering with friends is as far as I will ever go, because embarking on a relationship beyond a professional one is not just unprofessional — it’s wrong.

Professors are people who have spent a considerable amount of time researching and studying, and because of that they deserve their students’ respect. But make no mistake, this level of respect also comes with great responsibility. According to SFU’s Code of Faculty Ethics and Responsibilities, professors have a responsibility to ensure that they do not “exploit students for their private advantage.”

Embarking on a relationship beyond a professional one is not just unprofessional — it’s wrong.

Even if the student initiated the relationship, the professor has the responsibility to realize that this is a boundary that cannot be crossed. Conflict of interest, favouritism, potential blackmailing, and sexual assault are all problems that can be prevented if professors and students alike realize that the relationship between both parties must be a professional one.

Further, I stand behind UBC interim president Dr. Martha Piper’s consideration to ban romantic relationships between students and faculty. There is indeed an “inevitable power imbalance” that comes about from these kinds of relationships, and this can lead to exploitation.

Ultimately, there will be people who you find attractive that you just cannot touch, either by virtue of social norm or just because it is absolutely not your place. Trust me, I’ve been there and I’ve drooled over certain professors, too. It’s never easy to put aside your feelings and your pride, but the last thing you need is a black mark to your name — and their name — before you finish your degree.

If you absolutely can’t keep your feelings to yourself, then I urge you to wait until you have your diploma in hand and you have tossed your mortarboard in the air. I urge you to pursue graduate studies away from the institution where you fell in love with Professor McHottie. No one can guarantee that this relationship will work out. If it doesn’t, both parties are in for an emotional roller-coaster and a host of problems.

Take a breath and step back. Love may be blind and irrational, but that doesn’t mean that you should be too.