I was disappointed to read that the Princeton faculty voted to prohibit faculty from initiating or engaging in romantic and sexual relationships with graduate students. Obviously, sexual harassment is serious and must be forbidden. But the new policy is so broad as to be prejudicial.
As a first-year faculty member at a Midwestern university, I became friends with a doctoral student in my department who was one year younger. I was not on her committee or the instructor in any of her classes. I asked her out (there was no policy forbidding that at the time). We dated, fell in love, married, pursued rewarding professional careers, and raised two kids who have grown into outstanding human beings. If my university had had a policy such as the one just passed by the Princeton faculty, none of this would have happened.
Smart policy targets the problem, rather than forbidding an entire class of human interaction. Like sexual harassment, sexual abuse of children by religious leaders is a serious problem, but our policy response is not to ban children from attending houses of worship. Collisions kill tens of thousands each year in the United States, but we set speed limits rather than banning driving.
To ban romance between faculty and grad students is prejudicial. I would like to continue to believe that the Princeton faculty generally stands against prejudice, and am distressed that the opposite occurred in this case.