Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Student professor intimate relationship attacked, pt. 3

Mark Bourrie’s response to my blogging merits a reply.  His response follows-
 
 No, Dank, I want professors to act professionally, in the context of the power inequity that exists, the disruptive aspects of these affairs to the rest of the students, the possibility of litigation, the real and perceived conflicts re: marks, scholarships, internships, references, etc. You need not put words in my mouth. I have made myself very clear. The legal profession views clients as adults, and it bans sexual relationships between lawyers and clients because of the power imbalance and the coercive power that comes from the lawyer/client relationship. I believe this is the same type of power imbalance that exists between profs and students.

Of course, I agree with Dr. Bourrie that we should all be concerned about the disruptive aspects of these affairs if there be any.  Of course, if affairs of any kind are introduced into the classroom and such is disruptive of the class agenda, remedial action should be taken.  Remedial action should be taken in terms of any kind of disruptive behavior, such as students talking to others during lecture, or persistently interrupting others, being rude to to others, etc.  However, I expect that we would agree that students do not have a right not to be offended in the classroom. If we systematically avoid dealing with subjects that we fear would be offensive to some students, then education would be reduced to a form of pablum.

As for the possibility of litigation in regards to consensual student professor intimate relationships, the dankprofessor knows of no successful litigation that has been taken in this area.  At least I know of none that has taken place in the United States.  Maybe the situation is different in Canada.  Maybe, Dr. Bourrie can give me some examples of successful litigation in regards to consensual student professor intimate relationships.  And, of course, I am not referring to sexual harassment lawsuits in which there might have previously been a consensual relationship.  I will not defend persons who are a party to sexually harassing another.  I will hold that the behavior of persons who engage in mutual consent in the present situation under consideration should not and do not fall within the purview of litigation; such should be considered basic and elementary.

As for real and perceived conflicts of interests in regards to grading, etc., if I could wave a magic wand and remove all sexual interaction between students and professors, perceived conflicts of interests would remain rife in the university.  It is par for the course for students to believe and often state that another student received a higher grade than oneself because the professor liked him or her or the professor does not like me as much as him or her.  Students usually use this technique or psychological ploy to avoid attending/dealing with their own work; it is often a way of refusing to accept criticism and it is widespread in academia. Of course, any prof who feels he/she cannot objectively evaluate any student should recuse him or herself from evaluating that student.  Unfortunately, such is unlikely  to occur; said recusing prof would probably be stigmatized or even terminated.  

Problems relating to prejudicial grading should be at the forefront of university concern, e.g, how to avoid prejudicial grading when the professor finds the student exceptionally physically attractive, reminds one of ones ex-girlfriend, etc., or is repelled by the appearance of the student.  Nothing on this in the university.  These sorts of grading issues usually only come up by those who suffer from a “keen” interest in the sexual behavior of others, whether it be of a professional or non-professional nature.  If so-called professionalism rationalizes or justifies such an interest, such is most unfortunate.  In my opinion, in general terms, terms like professionalism often function to cover up the real underlying interests.  Such is my non-professional but professorial opinion.  The dankprofessor also has an opinion as to why charges of prejudicial grading are never lodged against womens studies professors who  hold that they should bond with their female students or who have overtly expressed hateful comments about men.  But I will withhold my opinion on this. Maybe Bourrie can help us out on this one.

As for the university adopting policies similar to those adopted by the legal profession or the lawyering class being held out as a model for the professor class, God help us.  Yes, there are many ethical problems and other problems in the university world, particularly plagiarism by both students and professors and administrators, but such I believe dwells into insignificance as to the the ethical problems of the lawyering class.  Putting ethics and lawyers together is often considered to be an oxymoron.  In any case, the lawyer client relationship is simply not analogous to the student professor relationship.

April 8, 2009 Posted by | attractive students, Canada, Concordia University, consensual relationships, ethics, grading, higher education, litigation, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers

%d bloggers like this: