Saturday, September 26, 2009


Wow. An administrator at Buckingham University in the UK is getting some flack for referring to female undergrads as "perks" for the male (heterosexual) faculty. In his words,
Most male lecturers know that, most years, there will be a girl in class who flashes her admiration and who asks for advice on her essays. What to do?
Enjoy her! She's a perk.
He goes on to explain that this doesn't mean nailing her. Rather, you should just ogle her and then transfer your sexual excitement to your wife.

Now, there are all sorts of troubling issues raised here, some of which are addressed by Dana. But I was fascinated to read this account by Dave Brockington over at LGM. As Brockington explains, the attitude about student-faculty relations is quite different over in the UK than it is here. Here, of course, it is strictly frowned upon (although not always against school rules). People can lose their jobs over this sort of thing. To the extent it exists, people don't really discuss it publicly. Across the Atlantic, however, a faculty member must file paperwork -- a "declaration of interest" -- before dating a student, but after that, it's largely accepted, even if not widely publicized.

Honestly, I'm not sure whose approach is better. This sort of thing obviously goes on on both sides of the Atlantic. Is it better to acknowledge and bureaucratize it, or shun it and pretend it doesn't exist? I'm curious if there are any actual data showing incidence of this across different sets of policies.

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