Faculty-student sex ban hurts freedom

Earlier this year the University of Michigan voted to ban sexual relationships between all faculty and all undergraduates There is talk that Michigan State University  may do the same soon Currently at MSU, such relationships are prohibited only when the student is in some way supervised by the faculty member. The new and proposed expanded bans pose threats as they impinge the on freedom of association.

It is clearly justifiable to require some personal distance when faculty members are able to abuse their power over students. But it does not make sense to extend this ban to situations where the student has no academic relationship with the faculty member.

MSU has several thousand faculty and close to 40,000 undergraduates. Most of them live in the surrounding Lansing community. In communities people meet other people in various ways (including being neighbors) and socialize and develop relationships. It is hard to imagine that a romance is necessarily predatory between two people who have no relationship with each other at the university, just because they have different status at the institution. Lacking the actual or arguably even potential disparate-power relationship, the university has no business controlling people’s personal lives.

In seeking to protect students, this ban is an undue restriction on both students and faculty. The phrase used to justify the measure is often about “protecting” students. The most effective way to remove someone’s freedom is in the name of protecting them.

Yes, MSU has a serious reputation problem as a result of the activities of Doctor Larry Nassar. Creating a set of puritanical restrictive rules for faculty and students would not make up for anything that Nassar did, or help MSU’s reputation.

The MSU Board of Trustees should avoid an extreme misdirected over-reaction to a scandal, and let university personnel have freedom over their lives.

Arthur Slabosky

East Lansing

Ken Harrow

retired MSU faculty

East Lansing

Discrimination real in Michigan

With same-sex couples celebrating the fourth anniversary of the freedom to marry in Michigan this summer, many think that LGBTQ people in our state no longer face discrimination. Sadly to say, this is not true.  Recently, a gathering of church clergy and laypersons from across the spectrum of denominations and political affiliations surfaced a dynamic discuss about anti-LGBTQ discrimination in Michigan. Clergy and lay folks alike spoke to the experiences of their parishioners and of their own families.   

Only with equal protections for all, including LGBTQ people, can all Michiganians live with dignity and freedom from discrimination. Across the country a majority of states lack LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination laws.

That means that LGBTQ people are left vulnerable to being fired from their jobs, refused housing, or denied public services and even access to educational opportunities, based solely on who they are or who they love. This kind of discrimination defies the values of fair-minded Michiganders across the state.

Extending explicit protections to all should be the standard in Michigan — with them, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Roland Stringfellow


Metropolitan Community Church


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