Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

UK lecturers “warned” to look but don’t touch

The BBC News reports (my comments are in the text)

A university leader has caused controversy by saying curvy female students are a “perk of the job”.

Terence Kealey, of the University of Buckingham, said lecturers were aware of females who “flaunted their curves”.

In a tongue-in-cheek article for Times Higher Education Magazine on the seven deadly sins of academia, he advised academics to “look but not touch”.

The National Union of Students condemned the comments as insulting and disrespectful to women.

Dr Kealey, a clinical bio-chemist and vice-chancellor of Buckingham University, likened the classroom to a lap dancing club and said admiring the curves of attractive students could help “spice up” marital sex.

In his article about the sin of lust, Dr Kealey wrote: “Most male lecturers know that, most years, there will be a girl in class who flashes her admiration and who asks for advice on her essays.
“What to do? Enjoy her! She’s a perk.” …

Dr Kealey recalled the days when sex between student and tutor, in return for academic favours, could go by unchecked.

“Thanks to the accountability imposed by the Quality Assurance Agency [the university watchdog] and other intrusive bodies, the days are gone when a scholar could trade sex for upgrades.”

OR to put it more accurately, the days are gone when a scholar and student can have a consensual relationships

‘Appalled’

Olivia Bailey, womens’ officer for the NUS, said: “I am appalled that a university vice-chancellor should display such an astounding lack of respect for women.

The dankprofessor is appalled that Olivia Bailey is not appalled at the lack of respect shown by the university vice-chancellor toward male lecturers.  To think that the curves of attractive female students could spice up marital sex, simply outrageous.   Of course, the good vice-chancellor neglects female lecturers who may get spiced up when in the vicinity of an attractive male student.  The vice-chancellor should be admonished for desexualizing female lecturers.

“Regardless of whether this was an attempt at humour, it is completely unacceptable for someone in Terence Kealey’s position to compare a lecture theatre to a lap dancing club, and I expect that many women studying at Buckingham University will be feeling extremely angry and insulted at these comments.”

I doubt it.  The dankprofessor thinks that Ms. Bailey should also be admonished for stereotyping female students as being “extremely angry and insulted”.  Ms. Bailey should restrain herself from creating female students in her own image.

His article has prompted a lively debate on the Times Higher Education website.

“I’m amazed that Terence K has a position in any university, and I’ll be damn sure never to apply for a job at Buckingham,” said one reader.

Another added: “Any scholar, who assumes that female students who show interest in the subject and ask for help because they have a crush on you or hope to manipulate you with their sexual charms, is a reality-challenged idiot.

Oh, please, he did not say all female students.  Does the reader really believe that no female student will ever attempt to manipulate a male lecturer with her female charms?  Manipulation goes on and on, everywhere, even at UK colleges, even by scholars using their scholarly abilities to manipulate their students and the their colleagues.

“And anyone who thinks that female students are there in the classroom expressly as objects of the instructor’s viewing pleasure needs to retire.”

But another said: “I’m appalled that everyone’s so appalled! – it’s just not that important, or offensive.”

Ditto from the dankprofessor.

Humour

Adding his own voice to the online debate, Dr Kealey said his article was a “moral piece” which used humour to encourage people to exercise self-restraint.

And he told the BBC: “It says that sex between middle-aged academics and young undergraduates is wrong. It also says that academics should enjoy the company of their students. That too is unexceptionable.

OK, for Kealey it’s all about age, no problem for the younger academic or for the older female student?

“The Times Higher readership is composed mainly of academics who would be expected to appreciate articles written at more than one level. The crudeness of some of the examples was to underpin the inappropriateness of transgressional sex and that is a conventional literary device.

Oh, God, it’s all about the crudeness of transgressional sex.  Or maybe its also about the crudeness of pedestrian sex.

“Sex between staff and students is not funny and is not a legitimate source of humour but it is legitimate to use humour to illuminate the ways that people finesse the dissonance between what is publicly acceptable and what is sometimes privately desired.”

Or maybe it’s about Dr. Kealey trying to finesse himself so he won’t lose his job.

A spokesman for the University and College Union said: “Harassment is not something to be taken lightly and I would be surprised, and deeply concerned, if any university, or vice-chancellor, tried to laugh it off.”

Isn’t this the first mention of harassment.  What has harassment got to do with anything?  I would hope that just about anyone would laugh off this comment.

Dr Kealey has been vice-chancellor at Buckingham – the UK’s only independent university – since 2001.

September 24, 2009 Posted by | attractive students, consensual relationships, higher education, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, student professor dating, United Kingdom | 1 Comment

Hofstra student rape accuser becomes the accused

The Hofstra student who charged that she was the victim of a group rape on campus is now reported to have completely recanted her story.  Hofstra has apparently suspended her as a student and she faces criminal charges.  Those she charged as rapists have been released from jail.

The dankprofessor takes note of this in the context of an East Georgia College prof who was suspended after he protested that his university had no section in their university’s sexual harassment policy regarding false sexual  harassment charges.

The dankprofessor had hoped that after the Duke university false rape charges against the lacrosse team members that more university faculty and students and administrators would be less prone to jump to conclusions and really embrace notion of the presumption of innocence in relation  to alleged criminals, including those accused of rape. 

I guess that such hopes unfortunately represent a form of pipe dreaming.

September 18, 2009 Posted by | consensual relationships, Duke University, East Georgia College, false rape charges, fear, higher education, Hofstra University, rape, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Facebook

You can friend the dankprofessor on Facebook.  Just put my civilian name- Barry Dank- in the search box. When you friend me, use the accompanying message and state- referred from the dankprofessor blog.  I will be posting most of my blog posts on Facebook.

September 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Prof accuses then becomes accused

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reports that

The abuse of campus sexual harassment policies to punish dissenting professors has hit a new low at East Georgia College (EGC) in Swainsboro. Professor Thomas Thibeault made the mistake of pointing out—at a sexual harassment training seminar—that the school’s sexual harassment policy contained no protection for the falsely accused. Two days later, in a Kafkaesque irony, Thibeault was fired by the college president for sexual harassment without notice, without knowing his accuser or the charges against him, and without a hearing. Thibeault turned to FIRE for help.

And help he needs.  It is surreal, to say the least.  Complain about the lack of protection for the falsely accused then you are accused of literally some unspeakable crime against something and are led away from campus and barred from returning.

I remember when I was a full time academic and at one of those so-called training seminars I pointed out that there was nothing in the policy about false accusations but then I went further and stated that the university policy inverted the values of our criminal justice due process system.  In the civilian world the accused is given all sort of rights, and may take avail of a public defender, but in the university world the defendant is provided with no rights while the complainant is given all sorts of assistance.  Could it be that in the university world the accused is presumed guilty and treated as one of the guilty, no pretense of fairness here while in the civilian world it is generally all pretence- due process on the surface, but the presumption of guilt structures the system; the only thing to be determined is what is the guilty person formally guilty of.

Please do click this link, it is all there for your viewing.  Of course, it is easier to engage in avoidance and denial.

September 15, 2009 Posted by | academic freedom, East Georgia College, ethics, higher education, sexual harassment, sexual politics, sexual rights | Leave a comment

UK lecturer attacked for suggesting SEX WORKS to student

 The Consenting Adult Action Network, www.caan.org.uk, reports that Simon Burgess a photography lecturer at East Surrey College of the UK faces disciplinary action and possible expulsion for suggesting a photography book SEX WORKS as a resource book to a student. 
 
sexworks_cover
 
 
SEX WORKS is by gender visual artist Del Lagrace Volcano.  Volcano is a well known visual artist having exhibited his works internationally.  Presently his work is being exhibited at the Glasgow Museum of Contemporary Art.CAAN reports that support for Burgess has been coming across the board from UK academics, artist communities and alternative sexuality communities. The dankprofessor expresses his support for the academic freedom of Simon Burgess and hopes that support from many American academics will be forthcoming.

September 14, 2009 Posted by | academic freedom, CAAN, East Surrey College, ethics, higher education, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, United Kingdom | Leave a comment

Sex, desire and the absurd at FGCU

In an August 13, 2009 article the naplesnews.com reported in some detail on the Florida Gulf Coast University administration’s investigation of Professor Patrick Davis’s alleged involvement and upcoming marriage to a former student.  This article is required reading for anyone who is seriously interested in how a consensual relationship between a student and a professor in which neither the professor nor the student is the complainant ends up being subjected to investigation.

 In the situation under consideration, third party informants were the source of the complaints. I have previously argued that third party informants play a crucial role in the revealing of consensual student professor relationships.  In the present case, allegations about capricious grading are brought up.  The allegations should of course be investigated irrespective of whether there was a related sexual component.  However, as to be expected, it appears that the sexual component is treated as the primary component.  As the dankprofessor has repeatedly pointed out, universities should concern themselves with fairness in grading not what they may consider to be fair or foul sexual relationships.

The naplesnews.com article in passing cites the university’s non-harassment and anti-discrimination policy, which states that a conflict exists “when an individual evaluates or supervises another individual with whom he or she has, or desires to have, an amorous or sexual relationship.”

 Now this is a new one for the dankprofessor- a supervising individual is in violation of a non-harassment policy if said individual simply has a desire to have an amorous or sexual relationship with the supervised. Not acting on the desire is not enough; simply having the desire is adequate for disciplinary action. 

 So what is a desiring professor to do.  The only ethical action in this absurd scenario is for the professor to recuse himself or God forbid herself from supervising the student. The conforming prof could simply screen out attractive students from his classes.  Or in other words, get rid of attractive students.

I guess Florida Gulf Coast University reputation as a university that has sexually run amok is merited.

September 11, 2009 Posted by | attractive students, consensual relationships, ethics, Florida Gulf Coast University, grading, higher education, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Sex and grading

Professor Charles Lindsey of the Florida Gulf Coast University has responded to my critical post in his recent commentary on the issue of the regulation of student professor sexual relationships and the regulation of sexual relationships between other members of the university community.  I appreciate his temperate response and I now respond to his critique.
 
Professor Lindsey disputes my assertion that restrictions on relationships between people when one exercises supervisory authority over another are automatically “power abuse”.  Of course, such may come down to the adage of beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Here is how I behold.  Consensual sexual relationships between adults should not be subject to the intervention by a higher authority just because said authority feels that some or most persons may be offended by said consensual relationships.  Such should not occur simply because their may be the appearance of impropriety.  Appearances should not trump the right of consenting adults to be left alone.  The Supreme Court in the Lawrence case affirmed that traditional antipathy toward consensual same sex sexual relationships is no grounds for the intervention of state authority into said relationships or the penalizing of the parties in said relationships.  The same is true in regards to interracial relationships. But unfortunately there has been a long history of interventions by universities into interracial, same sex and student professor relationships at various times in American history.  It all depended on which way the winds of sexual bigotry were or are blowing.
Professor Lindsey then states the following-
Your argument seems to be that since we cannot stamp out all forms of prejudicial grading, we should remain silent about this one. I don’t agree with that either (if I am misrepresenting your position, feel free to correct me). Faculty have an obligation to be fair and objective in grading students, <i>and to be perceived as fair and objective</i> as much as we can manage it. Having relationships with one’s current students is highly damaging to this perception–ask any of the other students in the class–and the university has a legitimate interest in preventing such damage, since it ultimately impacts the reputation of the entire institution.
 
Lindsey does not understand my argument or the basic issue which is involved here.  Of course, I agree that faculty have the obligation to be fair and objective in grading.  Faculty should not treat any student differentially based on a sexual relationship or any other form of relationship.  To argue that ones personal relationship with a person who is also a student automatically precludes fair and objective grading is absurd.  It may or may not impact on ones grading.  Such is an empirical question that may be addressed in regards to any specific situation.  As indicated previously the fact that some students some of the time may look askance at such relationships is simply not relevant if one takes a civil liberties perspective.  And, of course, for many and probably most student professor sexual relationships, other students and other professors may have no knowledge of a particular relationship.  Given the contemporary campus climate re this issue, most of these relationships are probably quite closeted.
 
The irony is that once a policy is established in this area then the involved student will be treated differentially, subject to possibly be taken out of the classroom and have ones privacy taken away if the professor follows the boilerplate procedure and informs ones supervisor that the professor is having an affair with so and so student.  I call this abuse.  Professor Lindsey appears more willing to save the reputation of the university than protecting the reputation and privacy of the student and the professor.
Even the assertion that the reputation of the university is based in whole or in part on suppressing student professor sexual relationships is problematic except for those who are sexually obsessed.
 
Professor Lindsey then concludes with the following-
If you know where I can get information about workshops on prejudicial grading, I would be interested in looking into it.” 
Of course, I know of no such workshops at any university.  I suggested that this is where the need is because universities give lip service to the importance of grading.  If grading was held in high value by universities faculties it would be abominable that teaching assistants would ever do the grading; too important of a function to leave to the inexperienced. In my 30 plus years as a university professor it was routine that professors expressed disdain for students that they were grading.  Professors routinely have their favorite and not so favorite students but such favoring seems to be quite acceptable and supposedly unrelated to grading fairness.  And then there is grade inflation which occurs when profs give students higher grades so that they can get higher student evaluations.
And then there are professors who quite openly state how much they hate grading.  Hating what one does particularly when what one does has import on the lives of others clearly indicates we have a problem here.
 
I could go on and on as to how profs are generally oblivious to matters relating to fairness in grading.  The need for workshops in this area is great.  But there won’t be any since profs don’t invest themselves in grades and grading.  Professors don’t get accolades from other professors about what great graders they are; students care about grading, not professors. Tell me Professor Lindsey do you know of instances when job applicants for teaching positions are ever questioned about grading issues.
 
So I tell Professor Lindsey the issue at his university is not about grading; its about sex. Take the sex away and hardly anyone gives a damn. Say it isn’t so Charles Lindsey.

September 8, 2009 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, Florida Gulf Coast University, grading, higher education, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | 2 Comments

FGCU faculty member speaks out

Charles Lindsey, FCGU faculty member and President of the Academic Senate, speaks out against the hysteria being generated at Florida Gulf Coast University regarding student professor sexual relationships. 

Well, in the dankprofessor’s terms he sort of speaks out condemning those who want to have blanket bans but not confronting the banning of student prof relationships where there is a supervisory component.  He fails to grasp that such consensual relationships should not be subject to the power abuse of the university administration and are not inrinsically “good” or “bad”.

The banning of student prof relationships because they supposedly lead to prejudicial grading functions as a smoke screen which functions to cover up widespread prejudicial grading at almost all universities.  The probability is overwhelming that at FGCU and at almost all universities there have never been workshops on prejudicial grading- how to avoid said grading and what to do about it.

The dankprofessor holds that the so-called problem of student prof sex is miniscule as compared to the problem of prejudicial grading.  Unfortunately, as usual, sex trumps just about everything else.

September 7, 2009 Posted by | consensual relationships, Florida Gulf Coast University, higher education, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Trashing student professor “trysts”

News articles abound on the student professor issue at Florida Gulf Coast University.  More precisely stupidity and bigotry abound as reflected in the following student comment on student prof sexual relationships-

Sophomore Zack Michniewicz, 20, an engineering major from Tampa, said no good can come out of a professor-student relationship. The student could be taking advantage of a teacher in hopes of earning a better grade, he said, while the teacher could be abusing his or her power for personal gain.

Of course, for this student persons such as myself and my wife do not exist.  Mr. Michniewicz sees the only the bad. 

Why do student prof relationships tend to bring out the worst in people?  Maybe its because in this instance it is OK to degrade and demean and damn. 

Is the dankprofessor the only professor who will speak out against such trash talk?

September 7, 2009 Posted by | consensual relationships, Florida Gulf Coast University, higher education, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Student professor sex attacked at Florida Gulf Coast U

 A professor at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) has launched an intemperate attack on fellow professors who have an amorous affair with a university student.  Professor Edward T. Wimberley, who teaches courses in philosophy, ethics and environmental public policy, labeled such professors as “unscrupulous, self-serving and narcissistic adults.”

 Unfortunately, Wimberley feels that it is OK to apply such degrading rhetoric to any professor who engages in such a relationship.  Surely Professor Wimberley must know of some professors and students who had an affair and ultimately settled into marital tranquility and ultimately parenthood.  In fact, it may be that some of the children of these relationships may even be in one of the professor’s classes and now find that their esteemed professor labels their father as simply an unscrupulous narcissistic adult.

Of course, Wemberley totally ignores the likelihood that these relationships are often initiated by female students.

In fact, the whole anti-student professor relationships movement either ignores the female student or treats female students as children.  The fact is that if female students were not attracted to some of their professors and did not consider these professors as eligible, there would be very few of these relationships.  Remove female professorial attraction and the so-called problem in essence is resolved.  But, of course, this will not occur since we do not live in an authoritarian therapeutic state.

 Professor Wimberley goes on to state-

Personally, I fervently hope that the very concept of permissible and acceptable consensual relationships between students and faculty will be rejected outright. As a parent and professor, I can see no situation where it is acceptable for an undergraduate student — particularly one younger than 21 years of age — to be engaged in a sexual relationship with someone significantly older who is legitimately expected to provide a wholesome role model to students. I suspect that a stronger case could be made for consensual relationships with older students — such as graduate students. However, given the poor self-restraint of so many of our FGCU faculty over the years, I would have to assume that the adoption of a consensual-relationship policy will implicitly sanction inappropriate relationships among university faculty and staff with students and will serve to perpetuate the idea that such relationships are acceptable as long as they don’t violate the letter of university guidelines.

 Clearly the professor regards students as children or childlike.  If such was not the case, why does he invoke his parental status?  Although he acknowledges the possibility of consensuality when the student is older, he still opts out for the draconian banning of all student prof intimacies at FGCU. Of course, the professor would have trouble confronting the fact that the average age of FGCU students in 2008 was 23 years old.  No matter the reality that most students are adults at FGCU, Wemberley still speaks as an authoritarian parent who wants the university to apply his authoritarian values to all of the FGCU student children or “kids”,a term often used to refer to students by authoritarian professors.

But there is much more to this story.  It turns out that the ongoing evaluation of student professor relationships has been speeded up by the “revelation” that there is an investigation of a specific student and professor at FGCU.

The naplesnews.com has reported-

Professors in the counseling department filed a complaint against Associate Professor Patrick Davis, accusing him of being engaged to be married to a graduate student who he has advised and taught. They also raised concerns that he has retroactively changed some grades issued to the student, whose name was redacted from reports.

 Note that the accusation as reported was that he was engaged to marry a student who he HAS advised and taught.  As for the serious charge that he has prejudicially changed a student grade, such can be dealt with without banning all student professor intimate relationships. Prejudicial grading and grade changing is wrong, no matter as to whether there was or was not a sexual component.  The fact that some apparently consider the student professor consensual sexual relationship issue as more important than the problem of prejudicial grading reflects the deterioration of academic ethics. 

The best thing that the FGCU administration could do is simply suspend the effort to regulate/control intimate relationships between students and professors; if not such will inevitability lead to abuse of too many students and professors and the violation of their privacy.  Of course, the FGCU administration should be vigorous in enforcing grading practices so that they will be uniformly non-prejudicial.

September 3, 2009 Posted by | attractive professors, consensual relationships, ethics, Florida Gulf Coast University, higher education, privacy, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

   

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