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Ban on Sex With Students Advances

May 29, 2003|Stuart Silverstein | Times Staff Writer

A policy restricting romantic relationships between faculty and students won approval Wednesday from the University of California's Academic Senate.

The policy would prohibit professors from having sexual liaisons with students they oversee or are likely to oversee in the future.

The policy, intended largely to prevent sexual harassment complaints, was approved six months after the dean of UC Berkeley's prestigious Boalt Hall Law School resigned in response to a former student's accusation of sexual harassment.

The policy was approved by a 32-12 vote, with three members of the Senate abstaining. The proposal now heads to the UC system's Board of Regents to be considered for final approval, which could come as soon as July.

If the policy is adopted, the University of California would join a growing list of American higher education institutions that have enacted outright bans or restrictions on sexual relationships between professors and students.

Although work on the policy began in 2001, the effort gained momentum after the resignation of Boalt's dean, John P. Dwyer, in November.

Dwyer acknowledged having had a sexual encounter with the woman who filed the complaint when she was a Boalt student, but he said it was consensual. The woman claimed that Dwyer fondled her after she passed out following a night of heavy drinking.

Many of the UC campuses have restricted consensual faculty-student relationships, but there has been no systemwide ban.

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