Romance in the Ivory Tower: The Rights and Liberty of Conscience

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MIT Press, Feb 25, 2011 - Education - 184 pages

Should the choice to engage in a faculty-student romance be protected or precluded? An argument that the right to choose a romantic partner is a fundamental right of conscience, protected by the U.S Constitution.

Allen Ginsberg once declared that “the best teaching is done in bed,” but most university administrators would presumably disagree. Many universities prohibit romantic relationships between faculty members and students, and professors who transgress are usually out of a job. In Romance in the Ivory Tower, Paul Abramson takes aim at university policies that forbid relationships between faculty members and students. He argues provocatively that the issue of faculty-student romances transcends the seemingly trivial matter of who sleeps with whom and engages our fundamental constitutional rights. By what authority, Abramson asks, did the university become the arbiter of romantic etiquette among consenting adults? Do we, as consenting adults, have a constitutional right to make intimate choices as long as they do not cause harm? Abramson contends that we do, and bases this claim on two arguments. He suggests that the Ninth Amendment (which states that the Constitution's enumeration of certain rights should not be construed to deny others) protects the “right to romance.” And, more provocatively, he argues that the “right to romance” is a fundamental right of conscience—as are freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Campus romances happen. The important question is not whether they should be encouraged or prohibited but whether the choice to engage in such a relationship should be protected or precluded. Abramson argues ringingly that our freedom to make choices—to worship, make a political speech, or fall in love—is fundamental. Rules forbidding faculty-student romances are not only unconstitutional but set dangerous precedents for further intrusion into rights of privacy and conscience.

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 The Romantic Conscience
25
2 Liberty of Conscience
81
3 Liberty of Conscience and the USConstitutional Archives
121
All We Need Is Love Love Is All We Need
155
Notes
159
Index
167
Copyright

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Page 114 - It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors ? Fallible men ; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons.
Page 126 - Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should " make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church...
Page 78 - against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.
Page 69 - The conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of their adopting the constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added...
Page 97 - That principle is that the sole end for which mankind are warranted individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number is self-protection ; that the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others.
Page 73 - Constitution expressly declared that, among other essential rights, "the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States...
Page 142 - States as the basis of their peace and happiness; to support the Constitution, which is the cement of the Union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the States and to the people as equally incorporated with and essential to the success of the general system; to avoid the slightest interference with the rights of conscience or the functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction; to preserve in their full energy the other...
Page 126 - I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and state. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore man to all his natural rights,...
Page 70 - And can the wisdom of this policy be doubted by any who reflect, that to the press alone, chequered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity, over error and oppression; who reflect, that to the same beneficent source the United States owe much of the lights which conducted them to the rank of a free and independent nation; and which have improved their political system into a shape so auspicious to their happiness. Had
Page 73 - ... no right, of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified, by the congress, by the senate or house of representatives acting in any capacity, by the president or any department, or officer of the United States...

About the author (2011)

Paul R. Abramson is Professor of Psychology at UCLA. He is the author or coauthor of many books, including Sarah: A Sexual Biography, With Pleasure: Thoughts on the Nature of Human Sexuality (with Steve Pinkerton), and Sexual Rights in America: The Ninth Amendment and the Pursuit of Happiness (with Steve Pinkerton and Mark Huppin).

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