"Teachers are in a position of authority and trust to foster the intellectual development of their students. When they engage in sexual relations with a student, they violate that trust implicit in a professional teacher-student relationship."
When students arrive at college to begin their academic journey the relationship between teacher and student shifts from the high school model. Faculty and staff have a code of conduct that they must adhere to. Here is a look at the landscape of sexual relations in college as they apply to faculty, staff, and students.
Every college has a sexual harassment policy in place that makes it clear to faculty that sexual harassment, misconduct, and/or abuse clearly violates the expected standards of campus conduct. In addition, many schools have policies that ban undergraduate student-faculty relationships, even when both parties consent, for a number of different reasons:
When sexual relationships between professors and students are permitted, it can sometimes be more difficult to recognize or report sexual harassment. Unwanted sexual advances by anyone, particularly someone in a position of power, can be intimidating or even frightening, which may impact whether or not a survivor feels comfortable reporting what has happened. (Martin, 1993)
Social media also plays a complex role. Because professors often communicate with their classes and/or individual students via digital assignments, cell phone, e-mail, Blackboard, and GoogleDrive, it is easy to communicate directly with professors outside of class. Even so, these communications should remain professional.
If a faculty member says or does something that is unwanted, unwelcome, and/or uncomfortable, it can be reported. The chain of command begins with the student's faculty advisor and department chair. They should be trained in how to follow the college policy in sexual harassment and assaults. Students can also connect with additional resources both on and off campus that can explain student rights and what options are available moving forward.