Netizens reject student-teacher affairs ban

By Kou Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2016-6-1 0:53:01

China shouldn’t use foreign rules to govern campus relationships: experts

A professor's proposal to ban romantic relationships between students and professors has been criticized by Chinese social media users, with around 90 percent of netizens reportedly denouncing the ban for impeding "free love."

In an article published in China Youth Daily on Monday, Yan Yiming, a professor of the Beijing Institute of Technology, called for an "explicit ban on romance between teachers and students," adding that ethical relations between teachers and students have become a problem in Chinese higher education.

"It's already common sense in the US that teachers and students should not develop romantic relations," Yan said in his article.

But compared with their US counterparts, the Chinese public has shown more tolerance of teacher-student romance, with 90 percent of netizens believing that "free love" should not be banned on campus, news portal reported Monday.

Some netizens have cited the student-teacher romances of well-known figures as evidence, including early 20th century writer Lu Xun, who had a son with one of his students.

Li Yinhe, a leading Chinese sexologist, told the Global Times that US rules on the subject "mainly target the potential for sexual harassment."

Meanwhile a commentary published by the Beijing Times on Tuesday wrote that the ban on teacher-student romances at many US universities is derived from feminist theories that hold a dominant position in US society. On the other hand, China has its own traditions that have shaped its people's understanding of love, the commentary claimed, saying it is thus inappropriate to directly copy Western methods.

Several student-teacher sexual relationships have made headlines in recent years, including the case of a teacher at a Nanjing university who harassed 14 female students and forced some of them to take half-naked pictures, the Beijing Youth Daily reported in March.

"When it comes to power, students are relatively vulnerable and may be harmed in the relationship," said Li Yinhe.

"A ban should be imposed on teachers' sexual harassment of students, rather than on affection between teachers and students," Li said, adding that love between students and teachers should be respected but is better left to develop after the student graduates.

According to a regulation on teachers' professional ethics released by China's Ministry of Education in 2014, teachers are forbidden from  sexually harassing or having "improper relations" with students. But the regulation does not specify whether romances constitute improper relations.

"If a new rule is going to be made... comprehensive research and preparation are needed. We cannot directly use other countries' rules, and we must clarify the boundaries of relations between teachers and students," said Ke Qianting, an associate professor of gender studies at Sun Yat-sen University, adding that otherwise the rule may impact normal relations between teachers and students.

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