“I think it’s really inappropriate for students and professors to have a relationship, just because it can get really tricky. I also don’t think that it’s healthy. I mean, they could be helping them, or misleading them in the wrong direction, and it can be bad for both sides, in terms of the professors professional career and the students mental health or career as well.”
Jairo Yanez-Vasquez, 2B Arts and Business
“I believe students and professors shouldn’t have a sexual relationship at all because it’s a very academic environment. It’s a very formal setting, and we handle delicate situations which should be treated very professionally and I think a sexual relationship might create a bias in this relationship. There should be a policy, like is any other business environment or company, against it.”
Nawal Hussain, 2A Honours Math
“In certain situations it would be okay for a student and a professor to engage in a sexual relationship. What I mean by that is, for example, you are a random professor in the University and they are a random student, if both of you want to engage in a sexual relationship there should be rules you have to follow. First you declare to the university that there is a conflict so they make sure that you never take that professor’s class… I think it’s okay for two adults to be in a consensual relationship of any sort.”
Rakn Hassain, 4A Honours Art
“I don’t know… I’ve personally never gone through one. I mean, they should have rules against it but that’s if they find out in the first place, and good luck finding out, you know?”
“I think that those should be avoided at all costs. They can lead to awkward situations for all those involved and can potentially have catastrophic consequences for either party depending on how thing occur.”
“Absolutely no. For obvious reasons. There’s an obvious power imbalance. That’s the real reason. It’s just out of the question for that exact reason. There’s no such thing [as consenting adults], i mean, if one person believes the other person has control over them, then they aren’t really free to choose. It’s got nothing to do with being an adult. It has to do with freedom to choose. Legitimate freedom to choose. And they don’t have that legitimate freedom to choose, they don’t appear to, anyway. There’s no way to tell if they’re choosing because they can or if they’re choosing because they think they have to.”
John Mielke, Applied Health Sciences “I would say that there’s a nuance there, and I wouldn’t say that it’s a yes or no, but part of the decision about its appropriateness would have to take into account the age of the student and their stage in the training process and then the relationship between the faculty member and the student. And I think with those, you don’t have a complete answer, but you can start to see where some of the boundaries are.
I don’t think you can say rightfully yes or no, but you have to look at the details of the situation. I think, like so many things, although it would be nice to say definitely yes or definitely no, I think it’s more complicated than that, as relationships tend to be. And so we need to be mindful.”
I’m sure the lack of diversity in the photographs of professors who answered our question is evident, but while Imprint appreciates that they were willing to address such a delicate and awkward question, we were also consciously trying to include diverse voices in this discourse. We believe representation matters at all levels of an institution.
When we approached professors that were not cis white males, they were unwilling to be quoted and photographed. One of the main concerns they voiced were possible repercussions that their answer might have.
One of them mentioned that a quote coming from a woman would not be received the same way as from a man.
We think this is an important issue to address, and we want to address it in our own small way.
Please come back for the next issue of Imprint on May 29th for an exploration of the experiences of professors of different genders and backgrounds.
Correction: The Campus Question on pg. 3 of Vol. 42 Issue 2 of Imprint, printed May 15, 2019 asked students and professors their opinion on the appropriateness of professor-student romantic/sexual relationships. The quote attributed to Professor Dan Wolczuk was not actually his answer, but the answer of Nour Al-Hendi, and has now been fixed online.