Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Attractive Students and Attracted Professors

In 2005 Michal Gee an instuctor at Boston University posted on a blog his sexual ideation/fantasies concerning a current female student  who he felt to be extraordinarily beautiful/attractive. As a result of this posting he was terminated by Boston University.  Said posting was removed from the blog but was republished in another blog which went into some detail concerning the firing of Michael Gee.  Eventually the Washington Post reported on this story- “Don’t Blog So Close to Me” by Robert McMillan, July 15, 2005; excerpts follow-

“Gee, a 17-year-veteran of the Boston Herald who left the paper in the spring, was fired this month from a part-time journalism school position at Boston University after sharing inappropriate thoughts about a student on a blog.

“‘Of my six students, one (the smartest, wouldn’t you know it?) is incredibly hot,’” Gee wrote, according to the Associated Press reported . “Gee was fired July 13, according to Bob Zelnick, chairman of BU’s journalism department. Zelnick said the posting violated the trust essential to the student-teacher relationship. Students ‘have to be confident their work will judged impartially’ and not on the basis of their looks, he said.”

Gee posted his comments on July 5th on the sportsjournalists.com blog. The blog’s administrators later removed Gee’s posting. But just because his words are gone doesn’t mean they haven’t been preserved elsewhere… like right here in this column, and over at Boston Sports Media, where blogger David Scott posted them on July 15 so the rest of us could wonder at them: “Gee, Gone. Again“: “Today was my first day teaching course 308/722 at the Boston University Dept. of Jounralis (sic). There are six students, most of whom are probably smarter than me, but they DON’T READ THE PAPER!!! Not the Globe, Times, Herald or Wall Street Journal. I can shame them into reading, I guess, but why are they taking the course if they don’t like to read. But I digress. Now here’s the nub of my issue. Of my six students, one (the smartest, wouldn’t you know it?) is incredibly hot. If you’ve ever been to Israel, she’s got the sloe eyes and bitchin’ bod of the true Sabra. It was all I could do to remember the other five students. I sense danger, Will Robinson.

Gee’s senses were right on. If only he had heeded them.

Scott asked BU about Gee’s remarks on July 12th before writing about them. Here’s his commentary: “What on earth was Gee thinking, when he made these inappropriate comments? Further, what editor would hire a guy who publicly admits to drooling over his student? Even more perplexing was Gee’s response after at least one SJ poster gave this friendly advice: ‘Congrats on the gig and the proximity to a hottie, but be careful. Not with her, but with this site. She or your bosses could Google your name and the university at any point and find this thread. ‘ Even that lucid warning didn’t seem to have an effect on Gee’s libido or his proud postings: ‘Dear Folks: I suppose I should be flattered that many of you think this gorgeous woman who’s half my age would consider having sex with me. Which, if I have any news instincts, she won’t. My problem is losing my focus when I meet her to-die-for eyes.‘”

Holy mackerel! That’s some hot journalism action! And boy, does it spread. Gee’s burying the lede instead kicked it into high gear in the blogosphere.

He can probably forget freelance opportunities at Ms. magazine where the comments on his actions are less than complimentary“.

The Dankprofessor continues-

 Of course, being attracted to ones students is nothing new, publishing them on the web as a blog posting is new!  However, blog posting continues as evidenced by a very recent posting in which the posters are not identifiable.  One such posting follows-

 I once had a VERY pretty woman in one of my classes in LaLaLand (where hotness is de rigeur), and though she wasn’t quite on the level of NFL cheerleader distraction (she was fairly professional in dress and not super-ornamented or made up), she was pretty incredibly lovely. She had a Halle-Berry-without-makeup beauty. And on top of all that, she had…how shall I say this?…a *perfect* rack. And the fit of her clothes emphasized this in a tasteful but nevertheless attention-drawing way.Anyway, I say all of this to demonstrate that I, too, was distracted by her hotness and the perfection of her secondary sexual characteristics. And *that* finally convinced me that “the gaze” is indeed male and that I’ve learned to look at all women, including myself, through that gaze. I thought I had escaped it and reinvented it, but this woman made me realize how much I was kidding myself.

The dankprofessor believes that professors finding themselves attracted to some of their  students is commonplace, attractions which are experienced by both male and female professors, feminist and non-feminist professors.  But what is not commonplace is writing about it; talking about it with selected colleagues is probably more frequent; such was my experience.  What I hold to be universal in academia is a universal formal exclusion of this topic; nothing in the faculty handbook; no formal workshops dealing with the subject.  No guidelines of any sort of how not to be distracted by attractive students; how to avoid differential treatment of attractive students, e.g., how to avoid giving higher grades to attractive students.  Such, of course, is not out of the realm of the possible since social psychological research  has demonstrated over and over again in a multitude of contexts that the beautiful people are treated more favorably than the non-beautiful.  How to avoid such differential treatment in academia?  Might the ethical professor and at the same time the very attracted professor recuse himself from grading to avoid  biased grading?  After all such is what is often mandated for the prof who is dating a student to avoid prejudicial grading, to avoid differential grading based on what is ones psychosexual involvement with a student.  Of course, as I have previously pointed out recusing oneself from grading a student based on an ongoing dating relationship is in itself a form of differential treatment.  And as I think we can agree the ethically engaged prof who refuses to grade students who he or she finds attractive would not be seen as acting from some high ethical ground but rather from some base exhibitionistic level, a level that would be seen as leading to exclusion from the classroom.  So what is an ethical prof to do??

Addendum-

Well, I didn’t get it quite right in this blog on attractive students and attracted professors. I cited a blog in which profs write about having attractive students; I indicated that the profs were not identifiable, such was not the case.  I went back to that blog and clicked the online identity and at least for some of the entries, this led me to their real world identity.  And the quote I had given  in my posting was that of a female prof, not a male prof.

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If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor.
© Copyright 2007

September 22, 2007 Posted by | attractive students, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, ivory tower romance, recusal, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

   

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