GUEST ROOM | Should Grad Students Be Banned From Dating Each Other?

The Consensual Relationships Policy Committee has undertaken a long overdue revision of Cornell’s policies on romantic and sexual relations between faculty and students.  These relations are fraught because of differences in power and experience, because they can involve serious conflicts of interest and because they can have disruptive effects on the functioning of and climate within our professional workplaces. However, there is another class of romantic and sexual relations that seems similarly fraught — in kind if not in degree — that has received almost no discussion:  those between graduate students within the same department or workplace. Graduate school provides a transition between young adulthood and full professional stature, and graduate students mature enormously over the course of their studies. Before graduating they may participate in many of the professional functions of faculty, including undergraduate teaching, training and supervising new graduate and undergraduate students, evaluating students and writing recommendation letters, managing collaborations, and writing and reviewing manuscripts and proposals.