The committee had meetings all fall with students, faculty and staff who eagerly participated and asked tough questions, Johnson said.The new policy comes at a time when sex and gender issues — all the ways that people define themselves, their sexuality, their relationships, and how they interact with one another — are relentlessly discussed on college campuses.Billie Dziech, a professor at the University of Cincinnati who has studied and written about relationships between professors and students, said policies about such relationships are evolving. “Institutions wouldn’t go near it, just wanted to avoid pushback from faculty. There are many institutions that have what I personally would describe as very weak policies. What Harvard and an increasingly long list of universities has done is to have prohibitionist policies.” Dziech said some policies have earned complaints from students who would say, “‘Oh, we’re grownups, we can choose with whom we have sex.'” She said Harvard’s decision was courageous.
Scores of universities are under scrutiny from the federal government for its handling of sexual assault cases, as the Obama administration uses Title IX legislation, which bars discrimination based on gender, to pressure colleges on the issue.Under a settlement with the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights, Harvard University and its law school promised to revise sexual harassment and assault policies to ensure a safe campus.