J. K. Galbraith’s post-mortem sex advice for Yalies

Yale University has banned all sexual relationships between faculty and students. According to the Yale Alumni Magazine, the new rule extends a previous ban that applied only when the faculty member had “direct pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities” over the student. Now all undergrads are off limits.

Yale is a bit slow clambering aboard the sex panic bandwagon. When Dean Henry Rosovsky sought to impose a similar rule at Harvard in 1983, Prof. John Kenneth Galbraith reacted with a confession:

Kitty and Ken Galbraith: Wayward couple

Kitty and Ken Galbraith, wayward couple

Just over forty-five years ago, already a well-fledged member of the Harvard faculty on a three-year appointment, I fell in love with a young female student. It was not in an instructional context; however, non-instructional amour is a “situation” against which you also warn. A not wholly unpredictable consequence of this lapse from faculty and professional decorum, as now required, was that we were married. So, and even happily, we have remained. But now my distress. As a senior member of this community, I am acutely conscious of my need to be an example for our younger and possibly more ardent members of the faculty. I must do everything possible to retrieve my error. My wife, needly to say, shares my concern. What would you advise?

In reply, Rosovsky had the wit to suggest that Galbraith consider endowing a chair as penance.