Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

University of New Mexico’s statement on Lisa Chavez

Sex In The Public Square is to be commended for posting the entirety of the position statement of UNM Deputy Provost Richard Holder on the fitness to teach of English Professor Lisa Chavez.  To view this statement, please click here. To view all of the dankprofessor’s prior postings on the Chavez controversy, click here.

Particularly note the following excerpt from the Holder statement.

First, I do understand the concerns and outright pain this situation has caused on behalf of almost all who have considered it carefully, and I regret the entire matter as much as any of you. However, we have to be guided by our carefully crafted policies and avoid at all costs trampling on the rights of any one of us, no matter the feelings any extramural activities may provoke.

Avoiding at all costs trampling on the rights of others is the key central point of this statement.  It merits applause from all academics who take the academic enterprise seriously.  The only question remaining is whether the Deputy Provost can talk the talk but also walk the walk.  And I have little doubt that the Deputy Provost will be tested given that following the sending of the statement, the Director of Creative Writing resigned in protest and a number of faculty who opposed the Provost’s decision continued with their protests.

Of course, the dankprofessor hopes that the parties opposed to Professor Chavez will accept the goodwill and good statement of the Deputy Provost.  However, given academic life as it is at most universities in the United States, goodwill and good statements are often not enough to bring an immediate resolution to matters such as this one.  Let us hope that this goodwill will lead to a civil welcoming back of Lisa Chavez by her English Department colleagues this coming Fall semester.

—–
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

April 26, 2008 Posted by | ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, sadomasochism, sex, sexual politics, University of New Mexico | Leave a comment

University of Georgia prof defends faculty protest

Janet E. Frick, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Georgia,  has written an op ed piece explaining why some UGA faculty signed a petition in opposition to the selection of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as the graduation speaker for the UGA 2008 Spring commencement.

Basically Professor Frick argues that the UGA faculty just can’t take it anymore.  This past academic year the university has gone through one sexual harassment scenario after another.  And the good professor feels

The UGA community has been hungry for leadership on this issue. The selection of a commencement speaker who was embroiled in arguably the most public sexual harassment case in history – for this year’s commencement – demonstrates neither leadership nor sensitivity.

The leadership and sensitivity not displayed have been by Michael Adams, president of UGA.  According to Frick, a sensitive UGA president would not have selected “any speaker embroiled in controversy about sexual harassment – yes, that includes former President Bill Clinton – would be seen as an ill-advised choice this year.”

In the dankprofessor’s opinion, Professor Frick’s advice is not good advice for the UGA or for that matter any university.
Such advice reflects a descent into the culture of comfort.  Being committed to comfort and sensitivity will almost always be at odds with a culture of controversy and dissent, a culture which should be a part of any campus.

The rationale for avoidance of controversial speakers or the suspension of academic freedom is almost always justified under the mantel of offense or sensitivity or under the argument that some campus group can’t tolerate the speaker or the controversy. As for the argument that the faculty of UGA just can’t handle controversial speakers on sexual harassment, such is a very poor reflection on the faculty.  Maybe these faculty should resign if controversial speakers are too much for them to handle.

Janet Frick concludes her piece with the following statement- “I would like to see our president acknowledge that this decision was controversial, and defend the right of members of the UGA community to object to it.”

Of course, at this point in time it is obvious that the President’s decision was controversial; acknowledging it would be superfluous.  And as for defending the right of members of the UGA to object to it, is it not taken for granted at UGA that the right of objection by faculty and others is axiomatic?  If persons are attempting to suspend such a right then Professor Frick should publicly identify these persons.

—–
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

 

 

April 26, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, ethics, higher education, political correctness, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, speech, University of Georgia | Leave a comment

   

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