Symposium at UQAM examines relationships between faculty, students

December 4, 2014

A recent symposium at l'Université du Québec à Montréal examined romantic relationships between professors and students. “Everyone knows it happens, but no one talks about it. And when we do talk about it, it’s to point to couples that have worked out. That way we avoid talking about the other scenarios, which are much more common, with issues that are more complicated, desperate, and, frankly, shameful,” said organizer Martine Delvaux, a professor at UQAM. The symposium was expected to be fairly small, but was caught up in recent current events including the allegations against former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi and the posting of stickers denouncing sexual harassment on the doors of 3 UQAM professors. Attendees discussed issues including what constitutes consent at university as well as the uneven power dynamic involved in a relationship between a faculty member and a student. Dalvaux said that usually the student is the one with the most to lose in such a relationship. “She has lost her power of speech. No matter what she says, she will be accused of having wanted to seduce her professor or of having been naïve enough to be seduced,” she said. University Affairs