Performance of the professor role can incorporate elements of other roles, and boundaries can become unclear particularly if instructors engage in behaviors to reduce relational distance (Garlick, 1994). Especially for graduate students, a professor can serve as a teacher, mentor, counselor, and a friend. Each of these roles is negotiated within the context of an existing power differential. Although it may appear that the relationship (whatever the roles being played) is consensual, in fact it is not and cannot be because the faculty member has all the power (Zalk, 1990, p. 145), be it the formal power associated with assigning grades and writing recommendations or the more elusive power stemming from faculty member’s control of knowledge and opportunities to shape the student’s selfappraisals. Some professors do not handle the power well and take advantage of the powerless.
Faculty members may exploit their organizational power by introducing sexual content into their professorial performances acting parts, such as “the intellectual seducer,” “the power broker,” and “the opportunist” (see Deziech & Weiner, 1984, for a discussion of professorial roles). In the case of the opportunist, physical settings and circumstances are used to mask premeditated sexual advances (Zalk, 1990). For example, a Cornell University professor was found guilty by a faculty ethics committee of sexually harassing four former students (Goldin, 1995) who worked for him as assistants and traveled with him on various school-related trips. One student recounted a trip in which she shared a bed with the professor because he told her there were no other rooms in the hotel.