Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Consideration of a consensual affair at Warwick University

The UK’s Telegraph reported on December 7 that

Warwick University is considering its stance in the wake of the romance between the law professor Istvan Pogany, 57, and a mature student in her 30s.

The human rights expert began a relationship with the woman following the death of his wife.
The affair started in 2007 and the pair travelled abroad on holiday together. When the couple informed the university about their relationship, it advised the professor not to flaunt the affair or mark her papers.

The student fell pregnant in earlier this year and agonised over whether to have an abortion.
She is said to have cancelled a series of appointments before finally going through with a surgical termination and taking the remains home in a conical flask for a proper burial.

The burial is said to have taken place in the professor’s back garden at his home in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The affair led to an internet gossip campaign among students and staff and two website petitions, one praising Professor Pogany as a brilliant academic and another that accused him of abusing his position of power. Both online petitions have been removed.

The Hungarian-born lecturer, who teaches Human Rights and international law, is currently abroad on arranged study leave and is not due back to Warwick University until the beginning of January. When contacted for comment, he answered in Hungarian.
The student said: “I just want to put this behind me.”

In a statement, Warwick University said: “The university is aware of a relationship between Professor Pogany and a student. We are aware that some institutions within the UK are moving towards the establishment of a code of conduct in respect of such matters and this is also presently under review at Warwick.

“We are mindful that the people involved are both adults and the university has to take this into account in the way it responds both to the situation itself, and also to enquiries about that situation.

“We take our responsibilities to both our students and staff very seriously.
“We are seeking to support and advise both the student and the member of staff. It is not possible to for us comment further without breaching the privacy of those individuals concerned.”

Such represents a most unfortunate and sad situation.  Except for the most committed romantics, I think we all know that love affairs can have rather bitter endings, endings that can plague the parties to these affairs for many a year, even in some cases for a life time.  On the other hand, I think we all know that there are love affairs that last for a life time at least in the sense of evolving into marriage and domesticity or just domesticity.

As for Warwick University (re)considering its stance in the wake of the romance between the law professor Istvan Pogany, 57, and a mature student in her 30s, the dankprofessor asks what is there to reconsider?

Warwick’s present stance is reflected in their statement-
“We are mindful that the people involved are both adults and the university has to take this into account in the way it responds both to the situation itself, and also to enquiries about that situation.”

Yes, they are adults and consenting adults.  The parties to this relationship I am sure have many regrets.  But Warwick should have no regrets.  They have no responsibility for a student and professor who are both adults and choose to have an affair.  If they should assume responsibility and develop more than a laissez faire policy on student professor consensual relationships then they will open
up a Pandora’s box for regulating the intimate lives of their constituents and subjecting themselves to a plethora of lawsuits.  Such represents the American away and hopefully UK universities can avoid going the American way.

Also, it is interesting to note that Warwick in this press report is not treating both parties as adults.  They
name the professor but the student is nameless.  If both are responsible adults, shouldn’t both of their names be employed?

What also irks the dankprofessor is that this story was featured on the blog victimsover18  moderated by
John Heard who devotes his blog to highlighting “the fact that sexual assault and abuse occurs with people over 18 as well as under 18″. 

Of course, Heard is correct that sexual abuse occurs with those over and under 18, but the problem is that Heard adopts the myopic assumption that the “Warwick couple” represents a situation of abuse.  Maybe this assumption to him comes in  the form of a revelation from a Higher Power.  But the dankprofessor speculates that Heard has been inculcated with the American campus feminist anti-sexual agenda, and there is no quick fix for getting beyond said inculcation.

December 10, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, United Kingdom, Warwick University | 2 Comments

Shame on the University of Iowa

The Daily Iowan, the student newspaper of the University of Iowa, reported on Monday that new policy recommendations relating to sexual assault and sexual harassment have been unveiled by all three University of Iowa campuses and have been forwarded to the Board of Regents for their consideration at tomorrow’s meeting of the Board.

UI representative Steve Parrott said there are key elements to the UI’s new policy that will change the way officials handle all cases.

The elements that peaked the dankprofessor’s attention follow.

To establish one point of contact for victims, the UI hired Monique DiCarlo from the Women’s Resource Action Center to act as the school’s coordinator for sexual-misconduct response.

Each school would also establish new victim-advocate positions. DiCarlo will assign a victim-advocate to each sexual-assault report.

“Having an advocate on hand at all times is crucial for any victim,” said Cathlene Argento, a Women’s Resource and Action Center volunteer. “It’s great that victims can form a relationship with someone to help them through that event in their lives.”

The mother of the alleged UI sexual-assault victim complained in a letter to UI President Sally Mason that she felt there were too few UI officials looking out for her daughter.

Parrott said the UI will now strongly encourage victims to take their sexual-assault allegations to the police as well as the UI.

Now the dankprofessor is not adverse to universities developing resources for alleged victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment.  But given that there have been two recent suicides at the University of Iowa by faculty members charged with sexual harassment, one would hope that there would be some consideration given to the well being and rights of those charged with sexual offenses on campus.

Employing the rhetoric of Cathlene Agento, the Women’s Resources and Action Center volunteer, wouldn’t it be great that faculty and others so charged be able to “…form a relationship with someone to help them through that event in their lives.”  And if such a policy had been applied to charged faculty at UI during the past year, maybe, just maybe, two faculty lives could have been saved.

The fact that the UI ignored these recent events in the promulgation of these policies is indicative of an utter callousness of the UI administration.  Maybe the callousness is part and parcel of an avoidance and denial syndrome by the UI administration. Or might it represent a revenge mentality that has been prevalent among too many campus feminists in the area of sexual harassment. 

Of course, in the larger society and criminal justice system, it is the desire for revenge particularly at in the context of a police state mentality that has led to the implementation of due process which puts restraints on police and civilians seeking quick “justice”.  Due process protections are not put forth to facilitate efficient police work; due process reflects barriers which police should have to handle with care.

At the University of Iowa, and I expect many others Americans universities, the response to due process concerns reflects a feeling that universities may end up coddling male sex offenders, and rather the coddling should be directed toward their student victims (always the victims not the alleged victims).  But in the dankprofessor’s opinion these policies may help to save the lives of accused faculty.  If  this is considered to be coddling, the dankprofessor believes that such is a necessary coddling.

Shame on the University of Iowa administration for its callousness and avoidance and denial.

December 10, 2008 Posted by | ethics, higher education, sex, sex offenders, sexual harassment, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, shame, suicide, University of Iowa, victimization | Leave a comment

   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers

%d bloggers like this: