One of my moles inside the undergraduate mill at MIT got a mass email recently from three bureaucrats: the Provost, the Chancellor, and the VP of Human Resources:
As President Reif recently wrote in a letter to the MIT community, MIT is taking a number of actions to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct. We write today to update you on an expanded conflict of interest policy on consensual relationships among community members.
The new policy was initiated and championed by the Institute’s Committee on Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response (CSMPR), led by Professor David Singer, Political Science, and has been adopted by MIT’s senior administration. We appreciate the many faculty, students, and staff who provided valuable input during the development of the policy. The final policy is stronger thanks to your engagement, and your commitment to advancing a culture of respect, fairness, and equality.
The last part is an interesting example of groupthink. How do these three bureaucrats know that all 4,500+ undergraduates have a “commitment to advancing a culture of respect, fairness, and equality”? Maybe some of them are committed only getting a degree and starting to repay their loans? Or maybe some of them think that a “culture of respect” prevents frank discussion of scientific errors and engineering shortcomings? Or maybe some of them support equal opportunity, but not “equality” (equal outcomes)?
The policy itself raises an interesting question. For example:
No MIT faculty or staff member may have a sexual or romantic relationship with any undergraduate student. [emphasis added]
In the age of Tinder, who decides what constitutes a “romantic relationship”?