Play Well: January Edition

By on January 6, 2016

By Sara Choate–


Q: Is it ok for a professor, TA, or RA to sleep with a student?

This is a challenging question because these categories of people possess varied levels of power over a student, not to mention age and physical proximity.  It’s generally a good relationship rule of thumb for two people to share equal power when they decide to enter into any form of romantic exchange or relationship.  The degree of the power imbalance is directly proportionate to the likelihood negative, unhealthy outcomes will occur.  Simply put, the more influence someone has and could wield over another person, the higher the chance bad stuff will go down for the less powerful one in the relationship.  I suggest you consider two things if you’re considering one of the aforementioned  scenarios:

  1. If others in your residence hall or class learned of the relationship, what would the public perception be? Could this impact you in a negative way in your social circles?
  2. What might happen if the relationship goes sour? Do you stand to lose more than the emotional connection if it doesn’t work out?

While there may be some room to debate the ethics of dating an RA, let me be very clear:  It is entirely unethical for a professor to date their student.  Even if the student is not in the professor’s class currently, they could potentially take their class in the future.  The only green zone for dating exists after the student graduates, when there is no longer a potential conflict of interest.   If you’re aware of a professor crossing this line, I encourage you to come forward and report it to Mary Elizabeth Miles, Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Director of Employee Relations and Compliance by phone at (502) 852-6688; or by email at [email protected].  If you prefer to report anonymously, go to:

About Nick Amon

Nick Amon is the Opinion Editor for The Louisville Cardinal, all views and opinions are of his own. If you have an opinion of your own that you'd like to see in The Cardinal, email him at [email protected]

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