Should students and lecturers be allowed to ‘get it on’? Does lecturer-student sex interfere with one’s university education? Is it immoral or just sex between two consenting adults? A Rhodes lecturer and a student tell us what they think about the matter.
From a lecturer:
The question of lecturer-student intimacy/sex is more complex than most like to believe. On the right and the left are those who argue that it is either simply permissible or not. There’s nothing simple about this issue; in fact, it is not the kind of issue that we can determine or decide on principle at all. That is not because between all of us we don’t have enough brain cells to work it out, but because of the peculiar nature of the higher education domain itself. This peculiarity resides in the status of the university as cultural half-way house. For most students it is the first venture beyond the familial logic of the private domain (home, parental role models and a rewards system based on the right to violence in the name of discipline and nurture). At the same time it is also the first time many students inhabit the public domain of equality, consent and contractual anonymity. Most interactions between lecturer and students are characterised by both these dynamics at the same time – that is, our interactions are shaded by expectations of both the filial and contractual. Lecturers are role-models, kind-of-parents who nurture students through a delicate developmental stage that is (still) one of intellectual and emotional (in)dependence. At the same time we also occupy a contractual role: we are, also, contractually employed service providers (through our teaching) of a specific “commodity” (knowledge). To understand that both these logics always apply at the same time is to understand the undecidable status of the university as institution and the identities of those who work and live in it. As a result one cannot simply say: the university is only a familial domain and any such intimacy is a form of incest because lecturers act in loco parentis (as if parents) – as those do who say such intimacy is in principle wrong; but neither can one say it is simply a contractual domain of consenting adults and hence such intimacy is always permissible. In the promise that our interactions here may be purely public or contractual, lies the seduction; in remembering that the domain is also still, however faintly, familial, lies the prohibition. Caught in-between the two are all of us who have to be our way through that tension as truly responsible, moral agents. This undecidability is the backdrop against which all other issues – about the dangers of bias, prejudice, favouristism, loss of objectivity and the difference between under- and post-graduate students etc. – become meaningful questions. For some this may suggest that to ask the question about lecturer-student intimacy is to ask it every time, as if for the same time. This probably follows from my analysis. As far as I am concerned, though, I think that the seduction is really the result of our collective fascination with this undecidability itself; with its implicit promise that, not only is possible to belong and not-to-belong at the same time, but that such undecidability could be bearable, perhaps even fun; a temporary intrigue, if you will.
Dr. Leonhard Praeg, Senior Lecturer, Department of Political and International Studies
Contrary to popular belief, lecturers are actually human beings too and have sexual needs like the rest of us. Seriously! I see nothing wrong with two consenting adults doing the deed. It’s not like we’re in school anymore. Of course a teacher doing a school student is wrong and highly unprofessional etc. but we’re in university now and things are different. We are young adults starting our lives in the big world of responsibility. If you’ve managed to get into university you should have reached a certain maturity to accept responsibility for your actions. As long as your sexual relationship with a lecturer doesn’t interfere with your academic career I think everything is hunky dory. I’ve personally slept with a lecturer before and it was the best sex I’ve ever had. Nothing like a bit of experience boys and girls! It didn’t even feel awkward afterwards because I knew it was sex and nothing else and it didn’t make things uncomfortable for me. The walk of shame wasn’t too lekker though. Sleeping with a lecturer didn’t interfere with my academic career in the slightest; screwing him didn’t even boost my grades unfortunately. I think as long as you both know what each others boundaries are and agree to what kind of relationship the two of you are having then its all cool. Two single people getting together and getting it on is perfectly all right in my opinion, just use protection and don’t expect extra credits! I don’t recommend getting totally motherless at the Rat and trying to pick up a lecturer there though, you’ll only make a fool of yourself and regret your decision in the morning. Amazing how hot some individuals look through tequila-tinted glasses. So in short, lecturers are human, you are human so do what humans were made for (safely).Anonymous