Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Being above suspicion

It seems that an annual ritual associated with the arrival of the new year is the making of lists, particularly of the genre of top ten lists. So I have been mulling over what sort of list I could come up with that is relevant to this wonderful blog and would be helpful to those blog readers who wish to safely navigate the university terrain during 2008. And I thought that I would create a list for those professors and lecturers and teaching assistants who have absolutely no interest in dating any student, irrespective as to the student being enrolled in ones class or never enrolled and who wish never to be suspected of dating or of ever dating a student. It’s the being above suspicion that concerns me since profs who are not dating students are in terms of their public behavior and persona often quite similar or identical to the public behavior and persona of professors who are dating a student.

So following is the dankprofessor’s New Year’s list for non-dating male profs who wish to remain above suspicion as to dating a female student. 

1. Never be seen off campus in any context with a female student in a one to one situation. Particularly avoid dining, having coffee, etc., with a female student in a public setting.

2. Although being off campus with a female student in a group context is less risky, there are still risks. If you are the only faculty member in a student group, others (both other students and professors) are likely to view you as having gone “native” and often impute sexual motivations. In such group settings, minimize you interaction with any particular female student to avoid being perceived as part of a couple.

3. Never have social gatherings of any kind in your home in which female students are present. The dynamic of having parties and inviting some students, but not others, often leads to feelings of unfair favoritism and resentment by the uninvited students. The most benign form of interaction with female students may lead to perceptions of intimacy by a select few; remember, it only takes one person to file a complaint. Also, being married is obviously no guarantee that you will not be prone to such perceptions.

4. On campus, never walk with a female student side by side. If you are seen repeatedly walking with one female student, some persons will impute couplehood. If while walking across campus, you run into a female student, stop and talk to her, but do not talk to her while walking. Of course, never dine, have coffee with a female student on campus without other persons present, preferably other faculty.

5. It is very important that you maintain social distance from former students who are still on campus. If you are perceived to have a close relationship with a former student, some will impute a sexual component, a sexual component that they may now believe may have been present when she was in your own class. And, if you should become engaged to or marry a former student, others may now believe that there was a sexual component when she was under your supervision.

6. Unfortunately, male faculty mentoring female students become particularly at risk. Since there is a great deal of one to one interaction, mentoring relationships often become close relationships and therefore outsiders are prone to impute a sexual component. Also, some non-mentored students are prone to resent the mentored and also prone to impute favoritism. So mentoring female students is out. 

7. Leaving ones office door open or closed while conferring with a student does not really significantly effect perceptions. It is the female student who is frequently seen waiting for you in the hallway that may lead to sexual imputations. Given this situation, the concerned professor should generally discourage student office visitations. The safest form of student conferral is by computer email with ALL messages NEVER deleted.

8. In terms of involvement in university activities it is difficult to limit oneself to participating in activities in which there are no female students in attendance. So to avoid being seen as a social isolate, do attend some university events, but only those events that have a clear feminist underpinning such as Take Back the Night events.

9. In term of in-class behavior, never address students in an informal manner, using first names is definitely a no-no.  And, of course, always have students address you in formal terms Dr. or Professor. And clearly communicate to students you don’t care whether they think you are a good teacher; communicate that you don’t care about student evaluations and you don’t care about students. Being an unpopular professor as far as students are concerned is one of the very best ways to avoid suspicion. So if anyone implied that you might have an inappropriate sexual affiliation, the typical reaction would be utter disbelief.

10.  Don’t get involved in any sort of civil liberties activities. Never give any kind of lip service to the rights of consenting adults unless it is in a feminist framework, wrap yourself in a breastplate of righteousness exuding your contempt for sexual deviance and deviates and communicating nostalgia for the good old days when everybody knew their place.

So that’s it, follow these guidelines and you will be above suspicion.

If I missed an important item that you think the dankprofessor should have included, do let me know. I am an open person, always open to others, and have no problem not being above suspicion. 

And have a Happy New Year.

—–
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

   

December 31, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, fobidden love, fraternization, higher education, secrecy, sexual policing, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Crucifixion of Santa Claus

The story of the crucifying of Santa Claus in the state of Washington was published in China along with a picture of the actual crucifixion.  Click here for the story and picture.  President Bush commented on the incident at the White House Christmas party indicating his opposition in principle to all forms of crucifixion while expressing doubt that the crucifixion had really occurred- “I have trouble believing any story being circulated in mainland China; after all, the Chinese have never believed that Santa Claus is real.” 
—–
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 

December 24, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From Consensual Relationships to Rape; the Ohio State University Work Group Report

 In my last post on OSU Work Group examination of the OSU policy on consensual sexual relations between faculty and students I may have presented too much as well as too little.  I may have presented too much in the context of having key points overlooked or lost in the mass of this material while at the same time accidentally omitting a key point.

First the dankprofessor must emphasize that the Working Group was appointed by the OSU President’s Council on Women.  The report of the Working Group was then forwarded to the President which led to the creation of the Task Force Examining the Policy on Consensual Relations which issued its report on July 11, 2005.  I have presented the first part of the Working Group report, the second part will follow in an upcoming post; the President’s Task force report will also be examined in an upcoming post.

It should be emphasized that the Work Group functioned to set the basic framework for a possible change in the OSU policy on prohibiting student professor sexual relationships.  What I did not report in my prior posting was the membership of the Work Group.  A listing of the membership follows-

Deborah A. Ballam, Associate Provost of Women’s Policy Initiatives; Director, The Women’s Place; Professor, Fisher College of Business
Olga Esquivel-Gonzalez, Interim Director, Consulting Services and Employee Relations
Rebecca Gurney, Graduate Administrative Associate, Rape Education and Prevention Program of the Multicultural Center
Eunice Hornsby, Assistant Director and OD Consultant, Organization and Human Resource Development
Beth Miglin, Partnership Coordinator, The Women’s Place
Deborah Schipper, Coordinator, Rape Education and Prevention Program of the Multicultural Center

Do note that two of the six members of the Work Group were involved in rape education; two other members were involved in the OSU group, The Women’s Place, and the remaining two were
involved in employee relations.  In the dankprofessor’s opinion, this group was formed with an expected outcome which would employ an anti-rape framework.  Why else have 1/3 of the membership coming out of anti-rape backgrounds?  Or the question can be formulated in the following manner, why on a committee formulating policy on consensual relationships would 1/3 of the membership be involved in rape prevention programs?

Well, if one carefully reads over their report, it should become clear that the members do not believe that the concept of consensual relationships can be applicable to student professor sexual relationships.  The closest they come to employing the concept of consent is to use the concept of  “exploited consent” which in their terms I believe means that such consent would only occur in a power differentiated situation and that if the situation was not power differentiated the female student would then not consent.  As I indicated in my prior posting on OSU, there is absolutely no way of proving that such would be the case.  In any case, where you have one party involved in a sexual relationship who cannot provide consent, then one has a situation of rape or sexual assault.  This does not mean that the party did not verbally consent, but such does mean for them that the “consent” was coerced.  It is in this rape framework that the committee functions.  No wonder that the female student is never viewed as initiating any sexual relationship; faculty initiation functions as a default assumption for them which I find quite understandable since if one believes that one is dealing with a rape victim, it becomes almost axiomatic that the rape victim did not initiate.

One should also note that the only reason given by the Work Group for prohibiting student professor sexual relationships revolves around the power differentiation and the inability to fully give consent, and therefore stopping so-called predatory professors from engaging in predatory behavior. Nothing is mentioned about conflict of interest; nothing is mentioned about avoiding civil lawsuits.  Unquestionably, the report would have been different if there were persons appointed to the Work Group who have some background in civil liberties or had an academic appointment in Political Science or, God forbid, Sociology.  Of course, not one member of the committee was a full-time professor.  And when they called upon persons outside of the Work Group to provide input, the situation was no better; they relied upon counselors to testify about helping grief stricken students who were attempting to cope with a broken relationship with a professor.  For them, better to call upon counselors of the grief stricken than a student or a professor who would testify about how their relationship made a positive difference in their lives.  Obviously,  the OSU President’s Council on Women stacked the deck and got the report they wanted- a report about rape, a report in which the term “consensual” was viewed as being employed as a shield for what they considered the underlying rape reality.

Buying into this rape mythology apparently is quite easy for those within academia who are committed to a victim feminism.  Such a mythology is not accepted and generally given short thrift by the larger society.  For example, in terms of the Clinton/Lewinsky fiasco, even Clinton’s most ardent adversaries, including Prosecutor Starr, did not portray Lewinsky as a victim of sexual assault.  To buy into the rape mythology one must reduce female students to children, and this is what campus victim feminists do, but without calling them children but rather calling them victims.  The larger society has a proneness to accept the rhetoric of equating student professor sex with child adult sex which I have discussed in a previous posting but generally such does not represent an embracing of a rape mythology as presented by the OSU Work Group.

The Work Group in part relies on Professor David Archard’s analysis of consent and on his “exploited consent” concept.  In my last posting, I indicated I would try to access Archard’s article, but was unable to do so; the article is part of an anthology.  However, I did find that Daphne Patai had reviewed the anthology in context of a review essay on victim feminism.  I urge blog readers to click on the Patai article; it is required reading for anyone seriously interested in this subject.

The dankprofessor was taken aback by the Work Group citing the writings of Bell Hooks as being consistent with their analysis of the lack of consent in student professor relationships.  I was taken aback since Bell Hooks is a feminist who has strongly come out against prohibiting student professor relationships.  Such is the case in her article PASSIONATE PEDAGOGY; EROTIC STUDENT/FACULTY RELATIONSHIPS.  And I quote the following from her article-

“Student devotion to a teacher can easily be a context where erotic longings emerge. Passionate pedagogy in any setting is likely to spark erotic energy. It cannot be policed or outlawed. This erotic energy can be used in constructive ways both in individual relationships and in the classroom setting. Just as it is important that we be vigilant in challenging abuses of power wherein the erotic becomes a terrain of exploitation, it is equally important to recognize that space where erotic interaction is enabling and positively transforming. Desire in the context of relations where hierarchy and unequal power separate individuals is always potentially disruptive and simultaneously potentially transformative. Desire can be a democratic equalizing force — the fierce reminder of the limitations of hierarchy and status — as much as it can be a context for abuse and exploitation. The erotic is always present, always with us. When we deny that erotic feelings will emerge between teachers and students, this denial precludes the recognition of accountability and responsibility. The implications of entering intimate relations where there is an imbalance of power cannot be understood, or those relations handled with care in a cultural context where desire that disrupts is seen as so taboo that it cannot be spoken, acknowledged, and addressed. Banning relations between faculty and students would create a climate of silence and taboo that would only intensify dynamics of coercion and exploitation. The moment power differences are articulated in a dialogue where erotic desire surfaces, a space is created where choice is possible, where accountability can be clearly assessed.”

The Work Group also chose not to cite empirical studies of student-professor relationships that are not consistent with their findings.  There are not many empirical studies in this area, and probably one of the best is by Marcia Bellas and Jennifer Gossett, “LOVE OF THE “LECHEROUS PROFESSOR”: Consensual Sexual Relationships Between professors and Students,” THE SOCIOLOGICAL QUARTERLY, Vol 2, No. 4, 2001, pp. 529-558. Bellas and Gossett did not take a unidimensional approach as taken by the Work Group; they see the situation as being much more complex as indicated in the following quote from their article-

“Both student and faculty respondents universally viewed their relationships as meaningful and justified. Some respondents, both professors and students, saw their relationships as no different than any type of romantic relationship. Although aware of their status difference, for some, the professor/student status represented only one of many ways in which they defined themselves and their partners For these respondents, the relationship seemed to transcend the social categories imposed on them. Indeed, we suspect that for some individuals, their ability to transcend social boundaries contributed to their willingness to cross the student/professor divide in the first place. For many of our respondents, issues related to race/ethnicity, sexuality, and age brought greater challenges to their relationships than did the professor/student status difference. We found that negative reactions from others tended to he most extreme for those who crossed multiple social boundaries

For the most part, respondents were well aware of the benefits and detriments of consensual relationships between professors and students. While some saw no special benefits associated with these relationships, both professors and students cited the rewards of intellectual compatibility and a shared lifestyle. Students, in particular, recognized the benefits of professional socialization. Despite such benefits, respondents also recognized the negative or potentially negative aspects of such relationships, especially the power difference between professors and students, and consequently advised others not to pursue them. Respondents tended to refer to power issues in abstract rather than personal terms, however, or noted that power differences are inherent in most relationships.
Faculty respondents in particular viewed their own relationships as equitable, although female faculty, and especially lesbians, expressed somewhat more concern about power issues than male and heterosexual female faculty. This heightened sensitivity among women, particularly lesbians, may reflect the subordinate position of women and gays/ lesbians in social hierarchies. Students, too, tended to see their relationships as being fairly equitable, although they expressed greater concern than faculty about power issues. Most recognized that students are in a more vulnerable position than professors Most were also cognizant of the ways that power differences are reinforced by other status differences, particularly age. We suspect that the sensitivity of many of our student respondents to power issues probably contributed to their ability to analyze their relationships and to negotiate satisfactory solutions to any conflicts Those who cannot do so may end their relationships. Several students who ended their relationship cited power and control issues as contributing to the demise of the relationship.”

Another excellent empirical study is-Skeen, R.E. and J. M. Nielsen (1983). “Student-Faculty Sexual Relationships,” QUALITATIVE SOCIOLOGY, 6(2), 99-117.
—–
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

 

 

December 22, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, fraternization, higher education, Ohio State University, rape, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | 2 Comments

Part 1- The Ohio State campaign to ban student professor sexual relationships

Prior to Ohio State University (OSU) adopting a policy prohibiting student professor sexual relationships, OSU engaged in a lengthy  process of evaluation of such a policy.  It appears to the dankprofessor that the OSU evaluation of said policy is probably more detailed than any other university to adopt a prohibition policy.  In addition, OSU has made available online key documents relating  to this process.  The dankprofessor is going to engage in a critique of some this material. 

We will begin with the first detailed report from January 11, 2005.  My comments will be in the text of the report and will be in bold.  This post will be the first of 2 posts on this report.  For the sake of accuracy, the text of the report is provided without any editing by the dankprofessor.  If one is really interested in this issue, then it is necessary to plod thru this text.  The text does reveal the banning agenda at the grass roots level.

Report To The President’s Council On Women

From The Work Group Examining The University’s Policy On

Consensual Sexual Relations Between Faculty And Students

Introduction

This workgroup of the President’s Council on Women’s Issues has been charged by the Council to explore whether the Council should recommend to the President that the university re-examine its policy on consensual sexual relationships between faculty and students. In carrying out this charge, the work group has considered the following: Ohio State’s current policy, the AAUP’s current policy recommendation, the policies of CIC and benchmark universities, the rationale supporting the policies that strongly discourage but do not prohibit consensual sexual relations between faculty and students, policies of other professions, the climate goals enunciated in both the Academic Plan and the Diversity Action Plan, considerations supporting strict policies on consensual sexual relationships between faculty and students, the human costs for students of such relationships, and the costs for the university, particularly in terms of fulfilling the goals as stated in the Academic Plan.

This workgroup concludes that it is time for the university to re-examine its current policy on consensual sexual relations between faculty and students and recommends that a committee be charged to undertake this task.

Ohio State’s Current Policy (Appendix 1)

The Ohio State University’s sexual harassment policy currently strongly discourages consensual and romantic relationships between supervisor and employee or between faculty and student, but does not prohibit such relationships. The policy prohibits anyone involved in such a relationship from having direct responsibility for evaluating the employment or academic performance or for making decisions regarding the promotion, tenure, or compensation of the other party to the relationship. The policy does note that “these relationships may be subject to concerns about the validity of consent, conflicts of interest, and unfair treatment of other students or employees.” The current policy does not explicitly require the reporting of consensual relationships.

AAUP’s Policy Recommendation (Appendix 2)

The American Association of University Professors’ suggested policy is similar to Ohio State’s current policy-it discourages, but does not prohibit consensual sexual relationships between professors and students. Like Ohio State’s policy, the AAUP suggested policy recognizes that consensual relationships between faculty and students “are fraught with the potential for exploitation. The respect and trust accorded a professor by a student, as well as the power exercised by the professor in an academic or evaluative role, make voluntary consent by the student suspect.”

Report to The President’s Council on Women From the Work Group Examining the University’s Policy on Consensual Sexual Relations Between Faculty and Students The Ohio State University, 1/2005 8

Policies Of CIC And Benchmark Institutions (Appendix 3)

The 15 CIC and benchmark institutions take a variety of approaches to the issue of consensual sexual relations between faculty and students:

     

  1. . Three prohibit such relationships between faculty and students over whom the faculty has some professional responsibility and discourage such relationships with other students (Iowa, Indiana, and Arizona).

     

  2. . Five have policies similar to the OSU and AAUP policies-they strongly discourage but do not prohibit sexual relationships with students (Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin-Madison, Minnesota, and Texas-Austin). However, all five of these institutions, unlike Ohio State, do require that such relationships be reported.

     

  3. . Three neither discourage nor prohibit such relationships, but do require that they be reported if the faculty member has evaluative authority over the student so that that authority can be reassigned (Northwestern, Michigan State, and Illinois).

     

  4. . Two caution in their policies that such relationships can be problematic but neither discourage nor prohibit them (Illinois-Chicago and Purdue).

     

  5. . Two do not address such relationships in any way in their policies (UCLA and Washington).

Rational Supporting Policies That Discourage But Do Not Prohibit

The issue of regulating consensual sexual relations between faculty and students has been controversial throughout the country. Most colleges and universities have policies similar to that suggested by the AAUP and Ohio State’s policy-such relationships are strongly discouraged but are not prohibited.

The arguments against stricter prohibitions center on (1) the right of the student as an autonomous adult to engage in a relationship that is not prohibited by law; (2) preserving freedom of association for both sides of the relationship; and (3) implementation problems-how does an institution enforce such a policy? A number of articles summarize the arguments against strict prohibitions on such relationships. For more information see Appendix 4.

Climate Goals Enunciated In The Academic Plan And The Diversity Action Plan Support A Re-Examination Of OSU’s Consensual Relations Policy

The last revision of Ohio State’s sexual harassment policy occurred prior to the adoption of the Academic Plan and the Diversity Action Plan. Thus, the policy has not been considered within the context of the goals outlined in those plans. Such consideration is now appropriate.

The overarching premise of the Academic Plan is that “The Ohio State University aspires to become one of the world’s great public research and teaching universities.” The Academic Plan acknowledges that the environment in which we teach, learn, and research is critical to achieving our goal:

Report to The President’s Council on Women From the Work Group Examining the University’s Policy on Consensual Sexual Relations Between Faculty and Students The Ohio State University, 1/2005 9

Academic excellence will be enriched by an environment that mirrors the diverse world in which we live. Within this environment, we will come to value the differences in one another along with the similarities, and to appreciate that the human condition is best served through understanding, acceptance, and mutual respect.

The Diversity Action Plan (June 2000) also acknowledged the importance of the university environment when it listed as one of its six objectives creating “a supportive environment that is welcoming for all individuals” both in and outside of the classroom.

In considering how to achieve the climate goals specified in these plans, one must be mindful that inequalities of power exist among the individuals who comprise our university community. Unequal power creates vulnerability to abuse of power that can interfere with creating a climate characterized by understanding, acceptance, and mutual respect which is supportive and welcoming for all individuals. This inequality of power inherent with “consensual” sexual relations between faculty, staff, and students jeopardizes the development of our ideal environment.

Of course, power inequalities are intrinsic to university life.  One of the greatest power inequalities is between tenured and non-tenured faculty.  Such a power differentiation is supported by an array of universities from the elite research universities to the lower status teaching undergraduate colleges and universities.  Although there have been attempts to abolish or limit the numbers of tenured positions in any university, these attempts have been almost uniformly opposed by tenured faculty.  Unquestionably, abolishing tenure and replacing it with contract lectureships, would radically flatten the faculty playing field in terms of power, but tenured faculty, such as the ones in this Work Group, do not want equality amongst faculty.  And, of course, the Work Group does not propose any form of sexual prohibitions between faculty members, no matter how great the power differentiation is between tenured and non-tenured faculty.  I mention this at this point since it is clear that the Work Group is not really interested in diminishing extreme power inequalities in the university.  It would be hard for them to move on fellow faculty since it is taken for granted that faculty are adults, and one cannot attack the ability of faculty to provide consent.

Considerations supporting strict policies on consensual sexual relationships

One of the key considerations in determining whether The Ohio State University should adopt a stricter policy on consensual sexual relations between faculty and students is the issue of whether such a relationship can truly be consensual. For consent to exist, there must be the ability, the option, to say “no.” If a student feels overwhelmed by the rank, prestige, or powerful position of the faculty member, then true consent may not exist.

Of course, in many sexual relationships outside and inside the university, many people feel swept away when they first engage in amour.  So being overwhelmed for many is an intrinsic part of romance, love and sex.  In fact, this feeling of being overwhelmed may be sought out by the romantically inclined.  Are these persons not capable of providing consent?  Should the feelings of surrender and ovewhelmingness be prohibited and sanctioned by any institution?

True consent also may not exist in situations where the student is so influenced by the power, status, or prestige of the faculty or staff member that the student consents to the relationship only because of the power, status or prestige, and absent those would not consent.

If absent the power, the person would not consent.  An interesting idea, but totally a non-verifiable supposition.  In any case, cross-cultural research has demonstrated over and over again that women in general terms are more attracted to men with more resources. Proposing the idea that women should not be attracted to the more powerful would call for a radical overhaul of heterosexuality.  The writers appear to be blinded as to the the dynamics of heterosexual attraction.  Of course, it may be that the consent may be given by some only if the other has power, prestige and status.

For example, Professor David Archard (2001) examines the notion of “exploited consent”. Archard (2001) defines exploited consent as that which is “given because of the unequal nature of the relationship between two people”. The less powerful person consents to the relationship willingly and voluntarily, but only because of the position the more powerful person holds. If the more powerful person did not hold that position, the less powerful would not likely have consented. Archard (2001) describes the concept within the context of professional relationships:

I would suggest three characteristics of professional relationships that are relevant. The first is an ethos of intimacy, closeness, trust, openness, and confidence. The second is the relative dependence and vulnerability of the client. The third is the esteem, respect, and admiration that the client has for the professional. All of these dispose the client to be more open and receptive to the proposals of the professional.

If, Archard (2001)asks, the less powerful person would not have consented to the relationship absent the position held by the more powerful person, can this be true consent?

Again, the answer to the question is unknowable for any particular person in said situation.  However, given the nature of heterosexual attraction, unquestionably the vast preponderance of persons would consent, some quite enthusiatically.  And I can’t help but wonder how many would equally give up their right to consent.  I do not think that Archard speaks to that situation.

Professors and students, particularly graduate and professional students, share the same three characteristics that Archard (2001) attributes to professional relationships. Thus, one can question whether students truly can consent to a sexual relationship with a faculty or staff member.

One can question in numerous contexts.  Questioning is not the issue; prohibition is the issue.  I can question the viability of marriage as representing the best interests of men and women; prohibiting marriage is another matter.

And let us not forget the framework that Archard and the writers of this report employ, it is the professional, and in this case the professor, who is proposing, always proposing.  The student never proposes.  None of the above can entertain this notion.  Unquestionably, such appears to be a default assumption for the aforementioned.  And interestingly enough, as a professor, I seldom proposed, proposals were almost always initiated by the female student who the aformentioned in essence hold incapable of proposing.  In fact, I would go a step further, and state that consensual relationships would not flourish if there were not a significant number of females students who were at one time or the other attracted to one of their professors.  The writers could easily get what they want if they were able to reprogram their female students in their own image.   They may very well want to do this, but they are unable to do so.  So they end up running a power trip on female students.

An imbalance of power is inherent in the teacher-student relationship, as well as the relationship between a student and a staff member. The student may defer to the teacher or staff person as an expert, a respected figure whose authority is unassailable. This power imbalance can be further exacerbated by the existence of other factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, international student/scholar status, command of the English language, and previous sexual victimization.

It’s the same old rant; differential power precludes consent.  And the ones engaging in the rant want to take away power from others so some university administrators (police) can control students and professors.

The age difference that might be encountered in a faculty/staff and student relationship might also indicate a vast imbalance of power based on the cognitive and psychosocial development level of the student. A number of models of development of students during the college years raise questions about developmental issues that might interface with a traditional undergraduate student’s decision to engage in, and the experience of, a consensual relationship with a faculty member (Chickering & Reisser ; Sanford; Perry).

As they say, it is an age difference that might be encountered; of course, they know it might not be encountered.  There are older students and younger profs at Ohio State.  And they know that there are many older grad students, and they also know that the age difference between TAs and undergrads is minimal.  No recognition given to the might nots, and there are many, many might nots.

In Perry’s model, for example, most first- and second-year college students are found to be in the Dualism stage. The hallmark of this stage is a deferral to “authorities,” who are assumed to know the answers to all questions. It is the role of the authority to teach the student the answers and the role of the student to soak up all the information held by these authorities. The “classic” authority at the university is the professor, who is seen as older, wiser, and the possessor of all knowledge in the field (at least all knowledge that is currently known).

If these students are in this “Dualism” stage, this shows the failure of higher education to facilitate critical thinking and independent thinking.  Such should lead to educational reform, not to a sexual prohibition.  After all, no matter how widespread education as a form of indoctrination, there are still some who remain or become independent thinkers and automonous adults.  And there is simply no justification for taking away their autonomy because others are not autonomous.

 For a student who is a Dualist, and who is invited into a consensual relationship with a faculty member, a normal and natural conclusion might be to assume that the faculty member knows best and, thus, that the relationship is desirable and good for the student. Additionally, the Dualistic thinker might believe that such an informed and esteemed professor must see something “special” in the student such that the professor would even initiate such a relationship. A normal and natural Dualistic response would be to defer to the greater wisdom and knowledge of the authority figure. This view of the position of the professor and the role of the student necessarily compromises the student’s ability to analyze the situation at the same level as the professor. At this stage, the student is cognitively unable to process information at a higher level, which would allow for the questioning of the authority’s position and the testing of various perspectives (Hornsby, 2004).

Again it is authority proposing; this default assumption persists.  The student as a person cognitively unable to process information at a higher level could be applied to children but becomes a dangerous stereotype when applied to adult students or adults in general.  Such has been in essence the rationale for book banning and censorship since the vulnerable reader cannot deal with this these writings; too vulnerable while the censors suffer, of course, from no such vulnerability.

 In addition to relative cognitive development, we must not lose sight of other aspects of the “uneven playing field.” We would be naïve to think that characteristics of race/ethnicity, class, gender and sexual orientation do not affect the relative power that individuals bring to any interaction. Many authors and educators have extensively examined how these characteristics affect an individual’s ability to influence and be influenced, to exploit and to be exploited (Kivel, 1996; McIntosh, 1988; hooks, 1994).

I am not sure why gender and race is invoked here.  Are they concerned with racial solidarity or female faculty and students united in a sisterhood which eradicates the student professor boundaries?

Power, and hence the ability to give uncoerced consent, is also affected by the international status of the parties involved. It seems obvious that a student, coming to the United States from another country, with family and friends perhaps thousands of miles away, might feel less powerful than a United States citizen. Furthermore, student visas are often dependent on academic status and enrollment in specific programs of higher education, creating a strong motivation on the part of the student to try to please those who have the power to permit or deny such academic status. In addition, the ability to communicate clearly and to understand the English language, as well as American cultural customs, can also impact a student’s ability to recognize manipulative behavior and respond effectively. Wow!  This is stereotyping run amok.   And in these nativist times, such could be used as a rationale for banning foreign students who are not proficient in English and lacking in the ability to fend for themselves. Finally, if the student has a history of previous sexual victimization, this can influence the student’s ability to recognize and react effectively against sexual exploitation. Lowered self-esteem, feelings of disempowerment and the adoption of faulty coping skills are some of the negative psychological and behavioral outcomes associated with sexual victimization. These outcomes, paired with increases in high risk behaviors are often seen in college students who have survived sexual abuse, and can negatively impact the student’s ability to deal with the manipulative behavior of an authority figure (Miller, Moeller, Kaufman, DiVasto, Pathak, Christy, 1978; Finkelhor, 1984).

However, such is not unique for students.  Professors can also be in the same category.  As well as candidates for higher office. As well as for everyone.  Let’s bring in the sexual police to solve this problem!  But if we bring the police or the sexual police who will protect us from them?  Will the writers of the report step in to protect us from the protectors?  Throughout the writers never see themselves as being on a power trip, and having a naïve faith in the good university administrators (authority figures) to use their power judiciously.  I wonder if they now have faith in our president, President Bush, to use his authority judiciously granted him under the Military Commissions Act to detain whomever he deems an enemy of the state.

Personal Cost to Students and Impact on Educational Experience

In addition to the issue of exploited consent, a strong argument supporting a stricter policy is the cost to students who are involved in such relationships. Archard notes in his article that “what studies there have been suggest that the vast majority of students who enter into affairs with their lecturers suffer as a consequence. They do not subsequently report that they were glad to have had the experience. Quite the contrary” (Archard, 2001).

I will check out Archard’s article.  And in my next post I will present some citations that don’t come up with the same result that Archard came up with. In any case, no one denies that in student professor relationships that there are happy as well as unhappy endings.  What the banning advocates never produce are findings that students in these relationships end up unhappier than if they were in other types of relationships, such as in a relationships with fraternity members, or football players.  In a weird way, I think by their omissions the writers end up implying that these suffering students would be OK in other sorts of relationships.  For some, it may be the case, for others unhappiness may accompany them in all their relationships.

While many faculty and staff know of cases where a faculty/staff/student sexual relationship ended amicably, many of us also know of cases where the relationship ended in disaster with long-lasting negative consequences for the student, department, or institution.

Note that they view all these relationships as ending.  I guess it depends on what one means by “ending”.  The writers must know that student faculty marriages are commonplace but such marriages become unmentionable in this report.  And I find it interesting that the writers hold that students suffer from long-lasting negative consequences, no mention of professors suffering from such consequences.  Apparently the writers simply cannot imagine a male professor being hurt.  No empathy here. For them, professors involved in these relationships are robotic manipulators; they can never be hurt, disappointed in love. The writers consistently dehumanize male professors who are involved in these relationships.

In addition, the offices to which students turn for support are aware of some instances where particular faculty have engaged in a pattern of short-term sexual relationships over the years with a number of students, many of which have ended in disaster for the students. In some of these cases, the relationship did not appear to be the result of spontaneous attraction, but rather the outcome of the premeditated targeting, seduction and exploitation of a vulnerable student. At the end of such relationships, these students often experience severe emotional and psychological consequences, depression, and even suicidal behavior. Students may come to question their own academic accomplishments, wondering if their grades are the result of hard work and talent, or merely the “reward” for their sexual relationship with their professor. They may change majors or drop out of school altogether, sacrificing years of investment in their education and career.

Unquestionably, some instances of this do occur just as they occur in “civilian” life.  Such is the nature of freedom.  I would love a world where there is no manipulation, no rape, but such is not a rationale for taking away freedom, the freedom to decide who to date, who to marry. 

Moreover, it is not just the student in the relationship who is affected. Other students frequently feel negatively impacted by “consensual” sexual relationships between faculty and students: Whether or not there is favoritism in awarding of grades, financial assistance, or special opportunities, there may be the perception or suspicion of favoritism when a consensual relationship is present. This perception or suspicion can impact the extent to which other students in a class or program choose to apply for such opportunities or the level at which they engage in their program or the class (Hornsby, 2004).

Thus, for both the student in the relationship and for other students in the class or program, the quality of the educational experience is negatively impacted by such relationships.

Note how they start out by stating that “other students frequently feel negatively impacted”, then they end up with “other students” without any qualification, end up negatively impacted.  In any case, even if there were not any student prof romantic relationships, student complaints would continue to be rife in the university re favoritism.  I heard from students throughout my professorial career that  so and so prof gave me a poor grade because he or she does not like me, he favored the X student and I am a Y.  And one of the more frequent charges I heard was that so and so grade was received because my prof was a feminist or the student did not tow the feminist line.

In addition, in cases where the relationship ends badly, the faculty and staff, and even the reputation of entire programs and departments, can be negatively impacted. This can affect the ability of the institution to recruit and retain both students and faculty, as well as the ability of the institution to raise funding, both public and private, that is essential for continuing success.

Give concrete examples.  Give specific examples from the history of OSU.  If the reputation was effected, such means that this was known by a wider public, but the writers can provide no examples.

Finally, existing research on the prevalence and consequences of consensual sexual relationships supports the assessment, discussed above, of the damage students can suffer as a result. Existing research primarily investigates relationships involving a graduate student and a faculty member, including instructors, advisors, clinical supervisors, and research advisors. There does not appear to be any empirical research regarding consensual relationships between undergraduate students and university faculty or staff, excluding relationships between collegiate athletes and coaches. Almost all existing research focuses on consensual sexual relationships between female students and male faculty or staff members.

Studies by Pope, Levenson, and Schover (1979) and Glaser and Thorpe (1986) had similar findings, indicating that 17% of females with graduate psychology degrees had sexual contact with at least one faculty member during their graduate training. In the study conducted by Pope et al. (1979), one in four women who received a Ph.D. within six years prior to the study had sexual contact with an educator. Glaser and Thorpe found that two-thirds of these sexual contacts occurred before or during an ongoing working relationship between the faculty member and student. In a survey sampling female graduate students across academic disciplines, male faculty members asked 22% of graduate women on dates, and 60% of these women dated the faculty member. In this sample, 13% of the entire sample dated a faculty member at least once during graduate school (Schneider, 1987). Fitzgerald, Weitzman, Gold & Ormerod (1988) found that 26% of male faculty members across academic departments reported sexual involvement with female students.

OSU staff that counsel students who have been involved in such relationships report many disastrous outcomes for the students.

Of course, they find negative outcomes.  Counselors do not counsel persons who feel great about their relationships.  And here is a major problem with this report and that is that they never attempt to find anyone who feels OK about their relationships.  They solicit counselors and others who try to help the grief stricken, but they never bring forward any persons for whom the relationship has made a major positive difference in their lives.  Anyone can make a fallacious case by citing only examples in support of their position.  The writers see the world through negative tinged lenses.  Any positive relationships would simply be an aberration for them

 This assessment is supported by research that indicates numerous negative consequences for students who have consensual relationships with university faculty or staff members. Negative consequences include feeling coerced or exploited (Irvine, 1997; Plaut, 1993; Schneider, 1987), feeling that there was a “conflict of interest” or ethical problem with the relationship (Glaser & Thorpe, 1986; Jacobs, 1991; Tabachnick, Keith-Spiegel, & Pope, 1991), emotional and psychological consequences (Plaut, 1993), a compromised ability to get the most out of the learning experience (Conroe & Schank, 1989; Plaut, 1993), negative repercussions for one’s academic career after the relationship ended (Irvine, 1997) and in some cases, dropping out of the graduate program or transferring to another program or university, due to the negative impact of the relationship (Schneider, 1987). Other negative impacts on students were dealing with perceptions of favoritism from classmates, having difficulty establishing professional independence, and having disrupted the “ability to acquire those skills that are necessary to become an autonomous professional” (Conroe & Schank, 1989). Women who said “no” to social invitations from professors experienced negative consequences as well, such as receiving fewer opportunities for academic advancement (Conroe & Schank, 1989; Glaser & Thorpe, 1986; Irvine, 1997). Schneider (1987) found that 46% of women who were asked or pressured to date a faculty member “were fearful of jeopardizing their academic futures.” Glaser and Thorpe (1986) asked women to evaluate their feelings about the relationship at the time that it happened, and at the time that they were surveyed. While only 28% felt coerced at the time of contact, 51% agreed with this statement later. Likewise, 36% saw an ethical conflict with the relationship at the time, but 55% agreed with this statement later. Ultimately, 30% of women who had intimate relationships with professors felt somewhat or very coerced, and 33% believed that the sexual relationship “greatly hindered” the working relationship.

It is important to note that several important gaps exist in the research. Existing studies sample women with graduate degrees, or women currently enrolled in graduate programs. It is impossible to determine how many women discontinue graduate studies after such a relationship ends. A few articles and chapters give anecdotal or case examples, but few use quantitative research, and those that do rarely look at impact. For example, no study asked women who were in consensual relationships if they received a lower grade, had slower academic progress on thesis or dissertation activities, or had other specific consequences.

In spite of the gaps in the research, however, both the experiences of our Ohio State professionals who counsel students as well as scholarly research that does exist show the costs to students of being involved in sexual relationships with faculty members.

It does not show “the costs to students”; it shows the costs of some students, and systematically avoids dealing with the positives of such relationships.  The writers ignore empirical studies that are at odds with their stereotypes.  Two studies will be cited in my next post.

And in their report they do not allude to any issue regarding civil liberties, the right to be free from governmental regulation of  ones intimate life.

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

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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

 

 

December 18, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, fraternization, higher education, Ohio State University, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | 1 Comment

Respite

The dankprofessor has taken a brief respite descending into the dank netherworld, and will soon return fully reconstituted and resurrected to the world of blogdom.

December 14, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kansas attorney general under siege

I know that I have drifted outside of the academic boundaries.   But under the direction of the dankprofessor, we can be set adrift to Saudi Arabia or even to the American heartland.  And so we now  go to Kansas to visit the Kansas Attorney General who is under siege.  Under siege for sexual harassment or a consensual relationship or adultery or soliciting for improper information or for all of the above?

So if you think you can handle it, click the following post. 

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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

December 10, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, sexual harassment, sexual politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lashing of rape victim defended by Saudi fundamantalist

I am sure that we all have heard about the case in  Saudi Arabia where a rape victim was sentenced to 90 lashes as a result of being in a car without a male relative.  And after her lawyer appealed the case, the judge significantly increased the number of lashes and suspended her lawyer from practicing law.  Outrageous behavior except for those fundamentalists who believe that the woman is getting what she deserves.  And given the importance of fundamentalism in todays world whether in Saudi Arabia or middle America, it becomes  incumbent for us non-fundamentalists to have an understanding of the fundamentalist mind.  So in the quest for that understanding, do click this message from the Islamic Shield.

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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

December 10, 2007 Posted by | coercing women, ethics, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights | Leave a comment

The litigation con

 It has been brought to the dankprofessor’s attention that the dankprofessor has not dealt with the prevention of litigation as a reason or possibly major reason why so many universities have adopted policies banning student professor consensual sexual relationships.  The argument can be made that universities simply want to save money, want to decrease the potentiality of successful lawsuits so consensual bans come into being.  Paul Abramson puts forth this argument in his recent book ROMANCE IN THE IVORY TOWER when he states the following, “The real reason for these prohibitions…is that universities want to further reduce their liability in civil lawsuits- no sex and no romance means no negligence.”  Do note the Abramson is not stating the universities should adopt such bans, but rather this is the reason that the bans are adopted.The problem with the assertion that fear of litigation is a reason or major reason for adopting these policies is that there is absolutely no evidence that such is the case.  I have reviewed numerous campaigns to ban student professor relationships and hardly ever is avoidance of litigation mentioned. Presently I am reviewing the two year campaign to adopt these policies at Ohio State University, and there is a huge amount of material documenting this campaign in detail, and so far I have not found any evidence that litigation issues were mentioned by any advocate at OSU. In the near future, I will present info and analyses concerning the OSU campaign. 

And, in addition, Abramson states in his book that there is no evidence that once these policies are adopted that either the incidence or costs of sexual harassment lawsuits are decreased on university campuses. And I am not aware of any successful lawsuit regarding a campus consensual relationship either before a campus adopted a consensual ban or after the campus adopted the ban.  If there was such a case that led to a large monetary settlement, I can’t find it.  No matter the amount of a monetary settlement, there is simply nothing on the record that I could find that there has ever been such a case. In fact, I challenge my readers to provide some relevant cases in this area.  I may have missed such a case.  So the dankprofessor does request blog reader assistance in finding such a case that is university related.I would also speculate that the adoption of bans have probably added some additional costs for universities. One would relate to the adoption of a bureaucracy to enforce such a policy.  And then there is the expense of hiring sexual harassment trainers to run workshops and seminars in this area.  And then there is the money expended to make faculty aware of any new polices. 

I am also quite aware of the argument that consensual relationships can end in acrimony and such can lead to a successful sexual harassment lawsuit. No doubt about it that some relationships can end in acrimony as well as some ending in a cordial manner, but whatever the ending may be, there is still no evidence of a university case in which the consensuality or prior consensuality was an important component in a sexual harassment lawsuit involving a university. 

But there is an additional component that should not be left out, and that is if there is a ban on consensual relationships, then the defendant to a sexual harassment civil suit cannot argue in his defense that the relationship was not harassment since it was consensual.  And the lack of a consensual defense by the defendant could facilitate the success of sexual harassment lawsuits and would simply be irrelevant as to providing increased protection to the university. 

So I do not think that the dankprofessor should be viewed as delinquent for not previously dealing with the litigation scenario.  The litigation scenario used as a justification for banning student professors relationships is just another academic con game, and, in this case, the accomplished academic con artist  is unlikely to use this con.

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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

December 10, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, litigation, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Red Cross consensual firing updated

As previously indicated, the Red Cross did not fire the person who was in the so-called subordinate position re this consensual relationship.  Subordinate was Paige Roberts, executive director of the Southeast Mississippi Chapter of the Red Cross. She is married and the mother of two children.  The Red Cross would not reveal their reasons for firing the CEO and not firing Roberts.  Consensual relationship does mean the involvement of at least two persons.  The Red Cross’s action in this case was quick and Draconian.  A consensual relationship just does not seem to me to be an immediate danger to the reputation and functioning of the Red Cross.  I still think that the underlying dynamic concerning this firing has not been revealed.

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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
 

December 7, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, corporate dating bans, ethics, sexual politics | Leave a comment

The Red Cross and the possibility of another workplace con

Red Cross CEO Mark W. Everson announced his resignation from the Red Cross on 11/27.

The resignation was not voluntary.  As reported in the media and by the Red Cross he was dismissed/resigned as a result of having a consensual sexual relationship with a “subordinate  employee.”  Of course, all Red Cross employees would be subordinate to the CEO.  The identity of the employee he had a relationship with was not revealed, and the employee will continue to be employed by the Red Cross.  Everson’s annual salary with the Red Cross was $500,000.  Everson had only been with the Red Cross for 2 months. Previous to this position he had been Commissioner for the Internal Revenue Service and was appointed to that position by President Bush.

I find this whole situation to be most disturbing.  Little or no information was released as to the specifics of the nature of the consensual relationship and how said relationship lead to the CEO’s termination.  Given he was dismissed for a consensual relationship, it must be that two persons voluntarily consented.  But only one was disciplined in the context of dismissal; the so-called subordinate employee not only was not disciplined, but remains in good stead in the same position she/he occupied prior to the CEO dismissal.  If it takes two to engage in illicit consensuality, then shouldn’t both parties be disciplined, if there is to be any discipline?  But, of course, as we know, many would argue that the subordinate employee’s ability to consent was impaired therefore such would lead to the differential Red Cross response.  However, if differential power precludes consent, the relationship was not consensual, and the CEO could be charged with sexual harassment, but a sexual harassment charge was not forthcoming..  In fact, sexual harassment was not mentioned by any of the parties to the case.

But this does not mean that others with an investment in the sexual harassment industry have not implied or outright stated that this case is the sort of case that sexual harassment training organizations find of interest.  For example, one such organization, ELT, has stated the following about this case.

“Exec level terminations like this typically involve very serious misconduct – fraud, theft, misappropriation.  But in this new climate of intense ethical scrutiny, office romances now fall into mix of unforgivable transgressions.  By loosing his job to his libido, Everson now joins the prestigious ranks of Paul Wolfowitz of the World Bank, and Harry Stonecipher of Boeing.”  

Wow!  Consenting sexual conduct is now in the same league with fraud, theft and misappropriation. It’s the same as stealing from the company  or stealing for the company.  But what was stolen in the present case?

The ELT presentation continues-

“The damage from this kind of scandal doesn’t just stop at the risk of litigation.  (Remember that “sexual favoritism” is a growing claim – meaning that coworkers who witness a consensual relationship between a supervisor and subordinate can make a case.)  The harm goes much deeper. 

Start with the hard costs of just replacing Everson – it’s not cheap to find a suitable executive to lead a high profile organization that’s under constant scrutiny.  Managing an exec level search twice in one year is a lot of money down the drain.  Then there’s the inevitable loss of employee confidence and productivity that follows this kind of an announcement – not to mention the potential for increased turnover. Employees start to jump ship when they think it might be sinking, and when they associate their employer with corruption and embarrassment. And we can’t forget the bad PR and loss of confidence by the community.  Just think of all the corporate sponsors and individual donations that have been compromised by a little consensual sex in the workplace.”

Well the Red Cross could have given their CEO a leave of absence, had him go thru some sort of special therapy and then hopefully he could have resumed his position.  But it was the Red Cross’s decision to go thru with the additional expenses.  And as for employees jumping ship because they associate their employer with corruption and embarrassment, where was the corruption?  And what was the embarrassment about?  That the company moved too fast, that they immediately removed the CEO without any substantive investigation, that they did not discipline the subordinate employee?  And as far as loss of the confidence of the community, can one believe that the community as a whole really cares about the consensual relationships within the Red Cross?  Such is other worldly thinking.  In fact, many members of the community lost their confidence in the Red Cross well before this CEO’s Red Cross employment, such was lost by the incompetent performance of the Red Cross during Hurricane Katrina. 

And then in the Elt posting, ELT gets down what for them is the nitty gritty-

“What happened at the Red Cross can happen in any organization. No one is immune. It’s why compliance and prevention efforts around workplace harassment are so pervasive and top of mind for employers.  Organizations know they can’t just stand by, awaiting their turn on the front page of the newspaper.  Incidents like these are inevitable. 

This is where sexual harassment training comes in.  While romancing a subordinate may seem like an obvious no-no, educating employees about workplace harassment (particularly fraternization policies) is still desperately needed.  This is especially true for senior execs.  The landscape has shifted in recent years. Conduct that was once “acceptable” or at least ignored at the Board level, is no longer okay – and is ripe fodder for the media.  When the rules shift, it’s up to the organization to make sure that everyone gets the message loud and clear, especially the top brass.  Executives may think they don’t need to be part of sexual harassment training efforts, but cases like Everson’s make it clear they do. (ELT Blog: Don’t Forget Your Senior Execs-They Need Compliance Training Too).”

And the dankprofessor continues, and its hysteria time since “no one is immune”; such is why pervasive efforts are needed to immunize companies from the disease of consensual sexual relationships that can infect the entire company.  And who can facilitate the immunization process? Sexual harassment training organizations, and, course, ELT should be given primary consideration.  Their whole posting functions as one big advertisement for their services.

But what ELT does not tell us in this posting is that the CEO is married with two children, that the CEO was involved in an adulterous relationship with a subordinate employee.  Now it could be that the CEO’s dismissal had nothing to do with a violation of a consensual policy, but occurred because of his adultery. It is harder to dismiss anyone publicly on the grounds of adultery; easier to go to violation of the company’s consensual dating policy. And then in the Dankprofessor’s opinion who was the CEO’s partner in adultery becomes of paramount importance.  Even within the Red Cross, internal politics can get pretty dirty and all kinds of manipulations and cover-ups can occur.  I do not know what is the truth.  I do feel that the Red Cross moved awfully fast on this case, too fast.  At this point there should be some healthy skepticism as to the facts surrounding the dismissal/resignation of Mark W. Everson.

But Elt  which is an acronym for Specialists in Ethics and Legal Compliance Training does not engage in any skepticism, they simply accept the public relations statement of the Red Cross as being truthful.  I wonder why the ethically sensitive, such as ELT, does not have any skepticism about the reasons for the Red Cross firing.  Do they advise companies to proceed as quickly as the Red Cross did in firing a CEO? Do they advise their trainees to always immediately accept the public relations statement of their company?

But ELT realizes that there is no quick fix for employees involved in these scenarios.  As they indicate-

“…remember that harassment training is not a one time event.  Laws change and issues evolve.  People come and go.  And when it comes to curbing bad behavior – especially the kind that comes from a heady mix of sex and power – folks need their memories jogged from time to time.  Guess that’s why the US Supreme Court, the EEOC and many state laws call for “periodic” sexual harassment training.  It’s legal speak for “keep reminding them.”

So this may be a part of the workplace con- organizations with vested interests in the sexual harassment industry hype how consensual sexual relationships are now considered so horrendous that only through repeated training sessions can the dreaded consensual sexual relationship not rear its ugly head in the workplace.  And might this situation represent another workplace con in the framework of the Red Cross firing someone for adultery with an anonymous other and using the consensual relationship charge as an expedient way of getting rid of Everson?  Of course, the dankprofessor does not know just as persons subject to an effective con do not know they are being conned.

  —–
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

 

December 5, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, corporate dating bans, ethics, fraternization, sexual harassment, sexual politics | Leave a comment

The dankprofessor as a sexual outsider?

On November 6, I published a post entitled, “The professor as THE sexual outsider”. This post focused on a post by Kentucky Youth Pastor Kyle McDanell which was published on his blog.  The focus of the Pastor was on Paul Abramson and the content of his recent book.  I was quite critical of the pastor’s posting and now Pastor McDanell has responded to my post.  And it is the dankprofessor’s pleasure to respond to this intemperate and misdirected attack on me.

Pastor McDanell was particularly distraught with the following passage from my post which read as follows-

So when the pastor thinks of student professor relationships he thinks of child adult sex. The professor becomes the child molester because the student cannot be an adult. I believe that this is the default assumption held by many persons going way beyond Christian evangelicals. It goes back to our childhood when the teacher is always the adult and the student is always the child. Many persons just can’t get beyond this framework. No matter that the student is 25 or 35 or 55; the student is always a child and always a victim. The idea of student and professor studying and learning together as two adults and loving each other as two adults and as marrying each other as two adults and parenting as two adults just goes beyond the mental capacity of those holding this hardcore default assumption.

So then the pastor states-

“For one, I never said such a think, and two, he only proves everything I have just said. First, let’s deal with the whole child-sex thing. I never said that, and he is simply misinterpreting my own words. Apparently, he thought he saw something that was between the lines that wasn’t there. I am not that dumb to think that most college students are under 18. I am a college graduate and am currently working on my masters, I know what a college student looks like, and how many varying ages there are. I never said that the professor was a child molester, and the further comments that he makes on this false assumption are ludicrous at best.”

 Unfortunately for the pastor somehow he bypasses his own key sentence which I indicated reflects  that he embraces a default assumption that equates student professor sexual relationships with child adult sex.  The sentence read as follows- “He (Abramson) doesn’t want to be told that sex between a student and adult are wrong.”  Obviously, this sentence represents a characterization of the professor as an adult and the student not an adult and not an adult is equivalent to being a child.  Default assumptions are not easily recognized by those holding them; the holder often is unable to see them and if questioned, one often becomes perplexed in the manner in which the pastor is perplexed.  He cannot “see” the default assumption; he cannot find it in his text, but it is there in his text, out in the open so to speak, for all readers to see.

The pastor also characterizes my thinking in the following terms-

“And here lies where Dankprofessor and I differ. He sees my common sense view on human nature “extreme.” Because I argue in favor of traditional morality, common sense, and (oh my gosh) Biblical standards, I am apparently too extreme for our society. I wonder if Dankprofessor ever sees his own views extreme. Probably not, which is typical of closed-minded leftist. They can preach about Conservative Christians like myself being intolerant and closed-minded without even seeing their own bigotry. I would argue that professors like Abramson and Dankprofessor are themselves extreme. But something tells me that I won’t get the fanfare that the left gets.”

But the good pastor will get fanfare and from all places it will come from close-minded “leftists” since it is usually authoritarian feminist leftists who are intolerant and close-minded when it comes to my viewpoint on student professor relationships.  In fact, in the 14 years that I have been involved in this issue, this is the first time I have been labeled as a leftist! So be it; such effectively demonstrates the absurdity of throwing around labels rather than focusing on the issue.   And as far as my being upset about his traditional morality and his Biblical standards, I have no trouble in accepting that the pastor believes what he believes.  What I find troubling is when the pastor takes his views and wants them to be mandated as part of public policy, when he advocates for the abrogation of the rights of adults to engage in consensual sexual relationships.

And the pastor continues-

“Many of Abramson and Dankprofessor’s own arguments prove this point. It doesn’t matter if what they argue makes no sense, the important thing is to just love one another and make sure it’s consensual. I’m all for love and being consensual, but I am also in favor of marriage and commitment. Chances are the student will likely split once they get that passing grade. so much for consensual sex!”

Now I must confess to being insulted, insulted when he implies that I am not in favor of marriage and commitment.  Nothing could be farther from the truth since I am married and I am committed to my wife who I met when she was a student of mine in 1998, and then we married in 2000.  And I have supported her through her battles with a number of life threatening illnesses as she has supported me.  In illness and in health we have been there for each other.  And to imply, as he clearly does, that female students who are involved with professors are prostituting themselves for grades is, of course, insulting not only to female students but to females in general.  Believing that female students are gradediggers is similar to believing that females in general are golddiggers and reflects the sexual fantasies of the holder of such views.  The reality here is that the pastor ends up pornographizing student professor relationships which might very well represent a form of psychological projection.

If the pastor knew anything at all about student professor relationships, he would know that often such relationships are formed in the context of a mutual love for a particular subject matter- of literature, or of history or of sociology, etc.  Such love can become transformed from a love of knowledge to a knowledge of love.  What I find ironic is that such love is so alien to what is so prevalent on today’s university campuses- hookup sex, often in the context of binge drinking and then more drinking and then more sex…Of course, the pastor may not find there to be any significant differences between hookup and committed non-marital relationships since he apparently holds all pre-marital sex to be equally sinful, no matter the form of said sex.

And the pastor continues-

“Secondly, the argument that Dankprofessor lays out here proves my previous points. Notice the Utopian worldview. It seems just normal to him, apparently, that a college student can walk into class, fall in love with the professor, and they go off and get married and have “consensual” sex, and none of that would affect the professors professional opinion of the student. Somehow he can make the assumption that the two can be both sexual partners and then be unbias in grades and favoritism in the classroom. Such a world doesn’t exist!”

If as the pastor claims that I am Utopian, I would counter claim that he is confusing utopianism with an ethical commitment.  As a professor, I was ethically committed to treating/grading students as students equally.  No matter whether I personally liked or disliked the student; no matter whether the student was a child of committed evangelical Christians; no matter whether the child of Christian or a Jew or an atheist.  I know that few professors actually have such a commitment, however this was not the case for me.  As a professor, I frequently engaged in questioning and self questioning not only in regards to the grading process but in regards to my life in general.  As for conflicts of interest, I find it interesting that conflicts of interest are rife on campus, but it is often only so-called sexual conflicts of interest that receive the attention of more than a handful of faculty.  In any case, I do not believe for a second that the pastor’s predominant interest in this area is one of non-prejudicial grading or conflicts of interest. His interest in this issue is because it is a sexual issue.  Take the sexual component out, and I think that the good pastor will ask to be excused.

And last but not least the pastor concludes-

“Finally, what my argument against Dr. Abramson’s book have to do with homosexuality, I have no idea…

Apparently it is also extreme to oppose homosexuality. Apparently what is “mainstream” to him, and how the typical liberal like himself would define freedom, is liberation from all shackles of morality. That is, except for the morality that he defends, like opposing extremist like me. That is the moral thing to do apparently.Again, how he goes from me being against student-professor relationships to anti-homosexuals is unclear to me. Perhaps he could clarify for me. But I hope that it is obvious how right I was in my original posts concerning Professor Abramson and how Dankprofessor has only proven me right. I stand by my first post, and I welcome others to a friendly debate.”

 Well, as requested, here is my clarification.  The pastor is clearly opposed to adult consensual sexual relationships which offend his version of morality.  The problem as I see it occurs when the pastor wishes to impose his moral shackles in the framework of coercive institutional regulations to consenting adults; in the first case he wishes to coerce consenting students and professors and in the second case he wishesto coerce persons engaging in same sex consenting sexual behavior. And as I stated previously, true believers who view themselves as fighting what they consider the good fight against sexual “debauchery” and sexual predators often “see themselves standing at the abyss…fighting The sexual outsider united in a stand that they believe will save our children.”

And, in conclusion, for the knowledge of the pastor, I spent a good part of my academic life working with Christian campus ministries in the engagement of ethical issues.  However, in these partnerships I never dealt with Christians who wished to impose their morality on others.  Rather the Christians I worked with were characterized by a humility and a communication of love.  Such as I was told was compatible with the teachings of Jesus who never embraced any form of institutional formal religion and never practiced authoritarianism in any form.

—–
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

“So

December 2, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, grading, higher education, homosexual, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | Leave a comment

   

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