Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

The Ohio State University Melodrama Continues; Task Force Examining Consensual Relationships

   Once the Ohio State University Work Group completed its report and recommendations, the report was then  forwarded to the OSU Task Force Examining the Policy on Consensual Relationships.  The Task Force issued its report on July 11, 2005 and it was then forwarded to the OSU Academic Senate.  A complete copy of the Task Force report along with the Work Group report can be reviewed by clicking here.
   From the get go the Task Force makes it clear that the report of the Work Group was of critical import to the Task Force:  “Because of the high quality and comprehensiveness of the Work Group report, the Task Force has used it as a foundation for our deliberations.”  Given the specifics of the Work Group’s report, it becomes quite damning that the Task Force accepts this report with absolutely no critical evaluation.  It is therefore not surprising that the Task Force relied on persons who were remarkably similar in background to the members of the Work Group: “We particularly benefited from the expertise of six individuals, including four Task Force members, who reported to our Task Force on their professional experience dealing with OSU students. They were: (1) Deborah Schipper and (2) Rebecca Gurney from the Rape Education & Prevention Program (3) Karen Kyle from the Student Advocacy Office (4) Eunice Hornsby from Human Resources (5) Karen Taylor from Counseling and Consultation Service.”  
   It also should not be very surprising that the Task Force report was to a significant degree just a rehashing of the Work Group report.  Such is indicated by what the Task Force attempted to pass off as data which was used as a basis for their conclusions: “Those persons who supplied information to the Task Force indicated that serious problems relating to faculty/student consensual relationships had come to their attention in the last few years. The number of reported cases clearly seems to have risen, with one respondent indicating that her office received 7 such complaints in one year, involving 7 different departments on campus. Although there is no reliable way to determine the precise incidence of such relationships – now or in the past – we heard reports that consensual sexual relationships were regarded as “not an unusual event.”…All the cases described involved male faculty and female students. For that reason, this report uses the masculine pronoun when referring to faculty or staff and the feminine pronoun when referring to students.”
   The abysmal lack of data did not escape the notice of some OSU faculty at a meeting of the OSU Academic Senate: ” Dr. Carl Allen, an OSU dental professor, said the report is outdated, unscientific and that there’s no evidence to indicate more stringent rules would make a difference. “It’s embarrassing that we don’t have statistics,” he said. “The proper response would be: ‘Let’s find out what the extent of the problem is and let’s educate people about this.’ ” Physics professor Gordon Aubrecht said a prohibition “smacks of a police state.” (Quoted from “Ohio state professors bristle at proposed ban”, COLUMBUS DISPATCH, February 6, 2006.)
   Yes it is embarrassing, but it is something more, I would call it outrageous.  Outrageous that a university would seriously consider suspending basic rights of both students and faculty based solely on anecdotal reports which were anonymous and unverifiable.  I would go one step further and state that those reporting these anecdotes had an axe to grind, a personal investment in the issue, and that just about everyone involved in this situation knew that such was the case.  But so what, as Gordon Albrecht states, this “smacks of a police state”.  
   And at this Academic Senate meeting all Senate members, except for Task Force Group members, opposed the prohibition policy.  But given this opposition, the police mentality immediately came to the forefront  when grad student Inna Caron asked the group, “Why do you have a problem with this being prohibited?  Do you want to reserve the opportunity to do this?”  Then as reported, Caron “…pointed out that everyone who spoke out against the prohibition was male”.(Quoted from Columbus Dispatch article.)
   There we have it.  Speak out against the proposed prohibition, and the motive mongers come into play and the dissenters are discarded since they are all males.  Identity politics at its worse.  University life at its worse.  But the reality is that few are outraged, it’s just business as usual.
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 2008

 

January 4, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, Ohio State University, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

   

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