Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Melanie McKee (Mills)


A history of sexual harassment traces the recognition and development of the issue as a social problem in the workplace and on college campuses. A review of research literature reveals both percentages of students involved and the effects on those students of academic or teacher/student sexual harassment. A brief overview of institutional policy statements shows that some colleges/universities have responded to the issue with a ban on all consensual amorous relationships between teachers and students; some ban such relationships only when a supervisory relationship also exists, and some do neither. Some policies include sanctions on those who violate bans; others do not. A rhetorical analysis of a statement made by a teacher who opposes all bans offers evidence of power abuse and serves as a paradigm of a rationalization of those teachers who do take advantage of their positions of power relative to their students. This paper does not advocate bans on teacher-student relationships; it does advocate sanctions on teachers who establish sexual relationships with students through the abuse of their power.