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Two students then made Title IX complaints against Kipnis, arguing that her essay (and a tweet) constituted “retaliation” against the students who filed the original charges.
As a result, Kipnis herself became the subject of a disturbingly opaque investigation, although she was soon cleared.
These and other revisions of university codes followed the announcement last year that the Department of Education would be investigating 55 colleges and universities for “possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints” under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
(Harvard was found to have failed to comply with Title IX in responding to such accusations.).
Like many young women, however, we were far from immune to the mystique of a man who can command the admiring attention of a crowd, and if he was like most men, he was sensible to the flattery of all those rapt faces.
Yet at the root of this queasy dynamic was genuine intellectual excitement.
Instead, it came as I stepped into the women’s restroom afterward, just in time to overhear two of my fellow classmates rhapsodizing over how cute the professor was, with particular attention lavished on his long, slightly bowed, denim-clad legs.
I was naïve enough to be a bit shocked that girls my age would talk that way about such an exalted figure.
If we think of the university as a purely professional realm, where services are exchanged for a fee among rational economic actors, then sexual relationships seem clearly out of bounds, as they are in most workplaces, especially between supervisors and subordinates.That species of desire makes ideas feel more vitally connected to our bodily lives and tells us that passions can be spurred by qualities deeper than six-pack abs.Whether students or their teachers should ever act on such desires, however, has never been an untroubled question.Like many vaguely parental relationships, the pedagogic one can have a strong and unsettling erotic undertow.
My fellow students and I probably wouldn’t have looked twice at our prof if we’d met him at the bus stop or waiting in line at the campus café; he was at least 35—maybe even 40!
He was accused of getting her drunk at an art exhibition and then groping her while they slept, fully clothed, in his bed.