Last week’s staff editorial on the student-faculty relationship policy bravely lambasted the college administration for its lack of transparency about Vassar College’s policies and operations. “This act by the Administration,” the drafting of a policy change that would ban student-faculty relationships, that is, “only worsens the lack of transparency that many students feel is affecting the Administration’s ability to enact meaningful discussion with the student body,” wrote the Misc’s Editorial Board. I think that meaningful discussion between students and administrators is essential, given the current campus climate. However, I would like to point out that the Administration did not, in fact, craft this policy.
Members of the faculty—not Cappy nor Dean Roellke—proposed, debated, and crafted this policy. To blame the administration for the unilateral action of the college faculty is absurd. Moreover, faculty members control the terms of their employment, and students should not be allowed to control what norms the faculty sets for its membership. The Misc’s call for transparency and student participation is admirable, but just as it would be absurd to argue that the college’s administrators ought to have input at VSA meetings, it is absurd to assert that students should be allowed to stick their noses into the affairs of the faculty. As for the affairs of the faculty, I hold a different view. I believe that this policy denies students their sexual agency, and represents the paternalism and infantilization of the neoliberal university at its worst. The current policy strikes the right balance between autonomy and limiting abuse of power; if I want to sleep with a professor who does not directly supervise me, or who is not in my department, I should be allowed to do so. Vassar has a history of being open to sexuality (and student-faculty relationships), especially sexual orientations that have been stigmatized in American culture and politics. Before the vote on this policy, I have these words to say to the Vassar faculty: don’t pull out, keep “smashing” away.
—Zack Struver ’15