Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Arbitration Board Reinstates Bird

The Canadian Press reported today that an arbitration board has ordered the reinstatement of Gregory Bird, a psychology teacher and general studies program leader at Lethbridge College in the province of Alberta.

Mr. Bird admitted to having sex with three female students and an internal investigation held by the college found him guilty of “inappropriate relationships with students” and dismissed him from the college. The arbitration board consisted of an arbitrator, two college representatives and a faculty association representative; they ordered that Bird be reinstated by May 1.

The Canadian Press also reported that all three students were consenting adults, none of the students claimed to have received preferential treatment from the professor. The professor testified that two of the women he had known prior to their becoming Lethbridge students and two of the women took classes from him while he was dating them. Investigation of the professor was initiated by a complaint from a former student. It was unclear whether the complaining student was one of the three involved students. The complaint led to an investigation and Bird’s firing.

Mr. Bird argued that he could not be fired because the college did not have a rule banning student professor intimacies.  The Board ruled that “Employees should not lose their jobs for breaking unwritten rules in areas where the line between right and wrong can be ambiguous. ” The college argued that Bird’s actions were a violation of the college’s sexual harassment policy. As for the college lacking a policy on consensual dating, Lethbridge College Vice President stated:
“Why would you write a policy that presupposes faculty might sleep with students?”

The college has yet to make a determination as to whether to appeal the arbitrator’s decision. Arbitrator’s decisions can be appealed on the grounds that the arbitrator violated the terms of the arbitration. Appealing the arbitration even if ultimately unsuccessful can significantly delay the return of the professor to the classroom.

The Canadian Press reported: “If Mr. Bird does return in May, he will do so without back pay and will be subject to conditions set out by the arbitrator. They include not being allowed to date or have sex with any student at the college and having to inform his supervisor if he dates a former student who has been out of the college for less than a year. He must also notify the college if one of his future students is someone with whom he has had a close relationship.”

Presently, Lethbridge College is developing a policy on student professor relationships.

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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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

January 19, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, Lethbridge College, litigation, sexual policing, sexual rights, student professor dating | 2 Comments

   

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