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 »

  1. [...] dankprofessor had previously reported on November 10, 2008 that Ms. Carrington had been involved in a sexual relationship with Warwick Professor Istvan [...]

    Pingback by Warwick University student dead in apparent suicide « Dankprofessor’s Weblog | January 25, 2009 | Reply

  2. One party was a vulnerable adult who was repeatedly coerced into an abortion and ended up having a breakdown. The other was a robust professor who still continues to lecture at that university to this day. Pray how were they equal adults with equal experiences and why should one party be exposed for having to undertake an abortion that from all accounts she did not want. The Human Rights Professor was the party who was fundamentally in the wrong by creating the circumstances which led to this student’s breakdown and you suggest that she is exposed. Why? because one breakdown is not enough for the person in question. This is not a question of two people of equal emotional status being exposed,and you fail to include the very fact that the man in question brought about the state that this student found herself in.
    Incidentally, the university recognised the disparity as he is no longer a Professor, just a mere doctor of Law now.

    Comment by Alexandra Academic | October 3, 2009 | Reply


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