Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Sharon Warner sues University of New Mexico

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Sharon Warner former director of the UNM Creative Writing program has filed a lawsuit against the University of New Mexico.  “Warner said she has suffered lost wages, lost promotional opportunity and emotional distress” caused in part by the decision of the UNM administration not to discipline her colleague Lisa Chavez for taking part in an off campus S-M phone venue.  Professor Warner had previously resigned as Director of the Creative Writing program as a protest against the UNM administration for not disciplining Chavez.

Professor Warner had argued previously that students had been harmed by Chavez’s actions, but she was unable to cite any student suffering from said harm.  Now Warner is arguing that she has been harmed by the administration doing nothing in reference to Professor Chavez, she finds such to be emotionally distressing.

The dankprofessor sees her bottom line as being that professors have a right not to be upset or offended by administrative actions.  If professors had such a right, professors throughout the country would be filing lawsuits on a daily basis against university administrations.  During my thirty plus years as a professor I was upset many times, too numerous to count, by actions of the university administration.  Some times I was very disturbed by these actions, some times I had trouble sleeping, but I viewed this as being all part of the game, as being a grownup, as being a professional.  My turning around and then suing the university for causing me to be distressed would have represented for me a giant copout, a comedy of the absurd.

Last year in a letter to the faculty of the English Department, UNM President David Schmidley wrote in regards to the Lisa Chavez controversy that “The university is, first and foremost, a place where students, faculty and administrators alike constantly engage in learning. It’s now time for all of us to learn anew the lessons of repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.”

President Schmidley’s advice is still good advice. But rather than getting any attempt at reconciliation from Sharon Warner instead at some time in the future he will probably get a summons to appear in court.

October 11, 2009 - Posted by | ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, litigation, sadomasochism, sex, sexual politics, Uncategorized, University of New Mexico

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