University of Florida Weighs Student-Professor Sex Ban

"Oh, wow, Professor Watkins. I haven't seen you since I took your class on Sino-American relations. Your lectures were always rousing."

"Oh Johnny, you can call me Charlene now, and if you found me teaching you relations arousing, well, I do live close to campus. Maybe we could have some independent study."

Such fantasy situations may no longer allowed to become reality at the University of Florida. The state's flagship school is considering a blanket ban on sex between students and professors.

The school already bans relationships between professors and students they're currently teaching, but otherwise the school's policies currently don't dictate whether professors and students they don't teach can date. So a professor and his/her student are totally free to do whatever consenting things they want once a term is over. Likewise, a history professor who just happens to meet an undergraduate drama major on campus are free to date.

That's a pretty common policy among schools across the map, but that's beginning to change. Earlier this month Harvard University issued a new policy that forbids professors from having sex with any undergraduate student. That move comes after U.S. Department of Education announced last year that 55 colleges and universities, including good ol' Harvard, were under investigations for violations of Title IX involving sexual harassment. So now more schools have been provoked to reevaluate their own policies.

University of Florida is now among those schools.

"UF is a large and complex organization and it is always good practice to periodically review policies to determine if they are working," UF president Kent Fuchs said in a statement released to the Tampa Tribune. "I believe it is appropriate for us to do so. I welcome the opportunity to discuss this in the coming months."

So what are the policies at schools in Miami-Dade?

The University of Miami has a nuanced policy that discourages but doesn't outright forbid anyone who holds "academic, administrative or other evaluative authority" from having relations with anyone over which they have that power. That include coaches and players, professors and students, thesis advisor and students, etc. However, if it happens the senior party in the relationship must report the situation to their supervisor and remove themselves from authority over the junior party.

"Members of the University community are strongly discouraged from entering into amorous relationships with persons over whom they have such evaluative authority or from attaining evaluative authority over those with whom such a relationship exists," reads the policy. "If they nevertheless do so, they must take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that they do not simultaneously have evaluative authority and an amorous relationship."

Florida International University also has a similar policy.

"The University discourages amorous or sexual relations between employees and students. Such relationships, even when consensual, may be exploitive, and imperil the integrity of the educational process or work environment," reads the school's faculty handbook. "The University requires the resolution of any conflict of interest created by these relationships."

Miami Dade College's policy is more of less the same: strongly discouraging student-teacher relations, reminding staff that they could be considered sexual harassment and improper, and imploring faculty to report such relations and removing themselves from authority over the student.

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Kyle Munzenrieder