Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

The banning of student prof sex at Colorado College

Cypher Magazine reports on the adoption of a faculty student consensual relationships policy by Colorado College. Following are the key parts of the text of this article as well as my comments.  As you shall see, parts of this policy differ from those colleges which have attempted to ban “sexual or amorous” relationships between students and professors.  This policy and the rationale for said policy merit a detailed critical review.

The policy was created in part to ensure that no sexual relationship between a faculty member and student would “detract from the main goals of the institution,” as the policy outlines. The dynamic of a professor-student relationship could create an uncomfortable atmosphere for other students in a class, and could influence a professor’s capacity for fair evaluation. Regardless of whether or not the faculty member supervises the student, the relationship is inevitably characterized by an unequal distribution of power. Feminist and gender studies professor Eileen Bresnahan confirms that, “One of the problems that the college has had is professors sleeping with undergraduate students where there is a big age difference.”

Interesting, does Bresnahan believe there is no big problem when students and profs are of a similar age?  If so, then why doesn’t she and others advocate a ban for age differentiated relationships?  I guess they are inhibited from reducing students to a “kids” or “children” status.  In any case, universities do not formally invoke an age ban, but as I have argued previously many academic women embrace the banning movement because they feel threatened by younger women taking “their” men.  Unquestionably, if there was a proposal in the wider society to ban older men/younger women relationships, a number of “older” women would embrace this idea.  But such will not come about; it will come about in the universities under a different guise.

While the issues of evaluation and equity between parties are problematic, some faculty members insist that the policy should not prevent the possibility for close student-faculty relationships. The question arose as to where the line should be drawn between friendly and inappropriate relationships between students and faculty members. Faculty members displayed concern for this issue at the third block meeting as they became engrossed in a debate over the meaning of the word “amorous,” and eventually voted not to include this word in the policy. Along with several of his colleagues (both male and female), English professor George Butte rose to the microphone to argue against the use of the word amorous because of its possible implication of friendship. Other faculty members defended their freedom to distinguish students on the basis of academic merit and talent and, in some cases, to meet with them outside of class. Some professors wished to maintain the right to meet privately with students struggling with class work.

Professor Butte understands the dynamic here.  Banning amorous relationships goes way beyond the sexual area. As I have indicated previously, student professor bans have become an outright attack on love between students and professors.  And an unfortunate byproduct of this is that non sexual close relationships between students and professors become increasingly suspect and consequently impersonal.

But the word “amorous” seems to suggest romantic attachment, something distinct from student-faculty friendship. Sociology professor C.J. Pascoe explains, “There was some back-and-forth among faculty members [as to whether the policy] should be just about sexual topics or sexual and romantic topics.” Pascoe says that a number of faculty members wanted the policy to prohibit romantic interactions. But by voting to remove the word “amorous” from the policy, the faculty chose to condemn only relationships in which students have physical relations with professors. The word “amorous” would have allowed the policy to address romantic relationships between students and faculty members whether or not evidence of sex was present.  Ultimately, faculty voted to abolish this word from the policy. There are multiple reasons behind the decision, but, according to Pascoe, “There are some faculty who would prefer not to see emotional entanglements legislated.” By voting not to include the word “amorous” in the Consensual Relations policy, the faculty is consenting to romantic relationships as long as they are not sexual.

Yes, such is the nature of the consent, but they are also consenting to the idea that close relationships between students and professors are not antithetical to the ethos of liberal arts colleges; such is consistent with the idea that students and profs are part of a teaching/learning COMMUNITY.

But the dankprofessor also wants to be completely open here in the acknowledgement that dropping amorous from the code also functions to protect those professors and students who are in a sexual relationship.  The reality is that in student professor sexual relationship cases which come to the attention of university authorities such does not occur as a result of observing a prof having sex with a student; sexuality is inferred from the observations of behavior reflecting closeness and intimacy.  When amorous is dropped from the code, then the assertion that the student and professor were in sexual congress can simply be denied.

In the case of Colorado College, the college drops the whole appearances argument which is that the appearance of intimacy was sufficient to bring charges; all one had to prove was that the appearance had occurred and not the reality of sex.  Many universities have consistently argued that the appearance of so-called inappropriate relationships is just as damaging as actually relationships.  Of course, what they had in mind is that it is damaging to the reputation of the college. Whether such is really damaging to the reputation or prestige of a college or university is problematic, and more importantly reputation or prestige issues should not be ground for suspending persons basic civil liberties.

Another component relating to the elimination of the amorous clause may be the most important one which is that these rules supposedly come into being to avoid conflict of interests and to insure fair and impartial grading.  Implicit and sometimes explicit is the notion that close relationships supposedly threaten impartial grading.  Colorado College rejects this notion by prohibiting sexual relationships but not amorous or close relationships. The dankprofessor has argued that these bans are fueled by an anti-sexual component; remove the anti-sexual component and the fervor to pass these rules diminish.  The usage of conflict of interest simply is a smokescreen used to further said anti-sexuality.  And CC has removed said smokescreen and presented their policy as a policy to eliminate student prof sexual relationships.

While other small liberal arts colleges passed policies regarding student-faculty relations years ago, CC faculty long struggled to accept such regulations. Ragan confirms that “we are the last of the top twenty-five liberal arts colleges” to pass such a policy regarding student-faculty relations. Williams and Carleton approved sexual conduct policies regarding faculty/student relationships in 1990 and 1992, respectively. Both schools have revised them since. When Pascoe arrived at CC a year and a half ago, she said that she was “horrified” to find that the college had no policy regarding faculty/student relationships. Bresnahan confirms that CC was not oblivious to the problem and has been working to engineer a policy since she joined the faculty eleven years ago. The policy simply has failed to pass until now.

Now why would Pascoe who is an accomplished sociologist be horrified by the lack of a student professor policy banning sex?  I would love Professor Pascoe to elaborate on the nature of her being horrified.  As for the policy not passing muster until now, the dankprofessor view is that such an invasive and ill advised policy should never pass muster.

There are several reasons behind the CC administration’s delay in acknowledging problems surrounding sexual relations between students and faculty. Ragan explains that the “liberal spirit of individualism at this school” may be partially responsible for the delay in formalizing a policy.  This value may follow the Enlightenment belief that all adults are equal and should have the freedom to rationally pursue their interests. Following the block three meeting, one male faculty member complained to me that the administration should not police student/faculty relations because both parties are adults. This contention aligns with the attitude that CC students and faculty alike are mature adults. Accordingly, they should maintain the freedom to pursue relationships with whomever they choose.

Yes, yes and yes again in reference to the prior paragraph. Enlightenment values, the right of adults to choose their dates and mates should not be subject to infringement by the powers that be.

Pascoe, who teaches the class “Sociology of Sexuality,” finds the assumption that professors and students stand on equal ground in pursuing and maintaining sexual relationships with one another to be flawed. She contends that, across the nation, “Historically, we have seen male professors abuse their power with female students.” This is not to say that the policy does not apply to female professors. But it exists primarily to confront a problem in a society in which, according to Pascoe, “men hold more power than women.”

Assuming Pascoe is correct that persons in the higher position are prone to abuse persons in the lower power position, what Pascoe advocates in no way changes the power dynamic. Such is the case since now we have administrators who become sexual police in the exertion of their power over students and professors in the most intimate and private aspects of their lives.  Pascoe must know that to effectively enforce sexual codes of the sort under consideration here, such can only occur in totalitarian police states.  Or maybe she is in a state of denial, denying that setting up a bureaucratic process  to take away the right of students and professors to have a sexual relationship has nothing to do with taking away the power of both students and professor.

Bresnahan provides an additional explanation as to why CC has hesitated to pass a consensual relations policy. She points to the fact that “a lot of faculty are married to people who used to be students.” According to Bresnahan, these relationships typically form between a male faculty member and a former female student. “The place is run by an old boys’ network,” she argues. “I think women have a hard time being heard here in terms of women’s concerns. If women speak the right language they can be included, but not if they speak as women.”

But Bresnahan does not hear the women who as students married a faculty member.  In fact, she overtly insults them as being pawns in an old boys network.  I guess their children end up being pawns as well.  I suggest that Bresnahan  needs a little consciousness raising.  Such may lead her to consider the possibility that in her own classes she may have a student who was a child of a former student and professor and now she is taught that her dad was a part of an old boys network and such is her reason for being.

This suggests that there exists a larger problem regarding equality among faculty members at CC. Bresnahan says, “The fact that these documents have not been passed until now is indicative of the chilly climate towards women at CC. Women faculty are not empowered at CC. If they [speak as women], they are shot down, marginalized, and ostracized.”

Bresnahan has spoken and is a woman and she seems to be quite alive and well.

It is clear that a variety of issues lie behind CC’s slow passage of the Consensual Relations policy. The issues of individual choice and gender inequality probably both played a role, and it is difficult to pinpoint just one event to which the college is reacting. The passage of this policy may be, in part, a response to the fear of litigation.

While CC passed this policy in the wake of other similar schools, it opted to completely prohibit sexual relationships between any enrolled student and faculty member—even if the student is not under the evaluative auspices of the faculty member. Williams passed a similar policy in 1990, but chose to only prohibit faculty from engaging in a sexual relationship with a student they had supervisory or evaluative authority over. Williams did not exclude the possibility for consensual relations between a student and faculty member. The Williams College Employee handbook from 2006 states, “Anyone in a position of institutional authority over other persons should be sensitive to the potential for coercion in sexual relationships that also involve professional relationships” [emphasis added]. Unlike CC’s policy, Williams’ specifies the need for sensitivity and good judgment on the part of the faculty, rather than mandating complete prohibition. This difference in approach raises the issue of whether or not CC is reacting too stringently to the pressure for a consensual relations policy.

Bravo to Williams College.  And, yes CC is reacting too stringently.  But I guess it is a matter of perspective.  Such stringent codes will most likely mellow out Professor Pascoe who as previously indicated is horrified by the lack of such codes.

The policy suggests that the College will not force the termination of a relationship, only that it demands the faculty member involved to report “the consensual relationship” and not to serve as a supervisor of that student. This clause reflects an inconsistency in CC’s Consensual Relations policy. While the policy claims to “prohibit” any sexual relationship between a student and a faculty member, it qualifies this claim by stating that the faculty member must report the relationship in order to avoid punishment.

By approving a consensual relations policy, CC remains consistent with standards of other liberal arts colleges.  In passing this regulation, CC is demonstrating its commitment to an academic experience where neither faculty nor students are distracted by sexual dynamics. But as one female student who wishes to remain anonymous explains, “Putting a limit on the potential development of student-faculty relationships conflicts with the possibilities for intellectual exploration. Sexuality is not a barrier to the academic experience, but an expression of it.”

Oh, my God, does the writer really believe that the adoption of this code will lead to professors and students not being distracted by sexual dynamics?  In the classroom and outside of the classroom, men and women will be attracted and distracted to each other, this includes men being attracted to men and women being attracted to women.  No matter what Colorado College does or does not do, the distraction of attraction will continue there unabated.

And the student who stated the following at the end of the article is right on- “Sexuality is not a barrier to the academic experience, but an expression of it.”

March 21, 2010 Posted by | Colorado College, consensual relationships, fraternization, higher education, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student-prof dating | 1 Comment

Shutting out the campus sexual zealots

Tony Judt has a sort of memoir blog at the New York Review of Books.  I find all of his posts to be delightful and insightful.  His latest posting is on student professor relationships then and now, mostly then.  I encourage my readership to read the entire posting.  Following are a couple of excerpts from the post and then my comments.

In 1992 I was chairman of the History Department at New York University—where I was also the only unmarried straight male under sixty. A combustible blend: prominently displayed on the board outside my office was the location and phone number of the university’s Sexual Harassment Center. History was a fast-feminizing profession, with a graduate community primed for signs of discrimination—or worse. Physical contact constituted a presumption of malevolent intention; a closed door was proof positive.

Shortly after I took office, a second-year graduate student came by. A former professional ballerina interested in Eastern Europe, she had been encouraged to work with me. I was not teaching that semester, so could have advised her to return another time. Instead, I invited her in. After a closed-door discussion of Hungarian economic reforms, I suggested a course of independent study—beginning the following evening at a local restaurant. A few sessions later, in a fit of bravado, I invited her to the premiere of Oleanna—David Mamet’s lame dramatization of sexual harassment on a college campus.

How to explain such self-destructive behavior? What delusional universe was mine, to suppose that I alone could pass untouched by the punitive prudery of the hour—that the bell of sexual correctness would not toll for me? I knew my Foucault as well as anyone and was familiar with Firestone, Millett, Brownmiller, Faludi, e tutte quante. To say that the girl had irresistible eyes and that my intentions were…unclear would avail me nothing. My excuse? Please Sir, I’m from the ’60s…

Why should I not close my office door or take a student to a play? If I hesitate, have I not internalized the worst sort of communitarian self-censorship—anticipating my own guilt long before I am accused and setting a pusillanimous example for others? Yes: and if only for these reasons I see nothing wrong in my behavior. But were it not for the mandarin self-assurance of my Oxbridge years, I too might lack the courage of my convictions—though I readily concede that the volatile mix of intellectual arrogance and generational exceptionalism can ignite delusions of invulnerability.

Indeed, it is just such a sense of boundless entitlement—taken to extremes—that helps explain Bill Clinton’s self-destructive transgressions or Tony Blair’s insistence that he was right to lie his way into a war whose necessity he alone could assess. But note that for all their brazen philandering and posturing, Clinton and Blair—no less than Bush, Gore, Brown, and so many others of my generation—are still married to their first serious date. I cannot claim as much—I was divorced in 1977 and again in 1986—but in other respects the curious ’60s blend of radical attitudes and domestic convention ensnared me too. So how did I elude the harassment police, who surely were on my tail as I surreptitiously dated my bright-eyed ballerina?

Reader: I married her.

Projecting Judt’s situation into the contemporary academic scene, marriage to ones fantasy girl is no excuse.  All that is needed is one third party informant of the Linda Tripp genre.  And, of course, almost all universities codes ban “sexual OR amorous” behavior.  So any protestation that you waited until marriage for sexual congress to occur is beside the point.  Marriage would de facto indicate that there were amorous shenanigans going on.

In any case, I say “bravo” to Tony Judt.  He didn’t capitulate to the campus sexual zealots.  He shut the sexual regulators out and maintained his sexual autonomy.  Too bad that there are hardly any Tony Judt’s into today’s academe.  The men and women of the university world let the sexual control freaks have their way with them.  If they violate the will of the sexual zealots, they almost always do so deep within the campus closet.

March 11, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, love, NYU, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Mourning and Remembrance at UNM

March 10 at 4:05 AM
by Christine

Thank you for the kind words. Thank you for keeping this article about Hector and Stefania. My uncle was a brilliant and tender man. My hope is that when people remember him the memories will be of his fabulous smile, his willingness to listen, and his absolutely brilliant mind.

This is such a loss to anyone that has ever or who might have crossed his path.

March 10 at 5:34 AM
by cathy

This is a wonderful description of a wonderful man I was lucky enough to call my uncle. Our hearts are broken, but it helps to hear how much he was loved.

March 10 at 6:40 AM
by Nathalie

‘No hay mal que por bien no venga’, this was the note in Spanish Hector sent to his/her friend.
But frankly, it’s difficult to see any good or the light out of this dark tunnel of pain and sorrow.
All our love, thoughts and memories to Hector’s and Stefanía’s families from Europe.
I owe Hector a lot, and we all miss him very, very much.
I didn’t have the chance to know Estefanía, but from here, Andalusia, the subject of her thesis, we will honor her memory.

March 10 at 6:53 AM
by C

This is such a tragedy. Stefania was a smart and kind woman. A wonderful person to have known. My heart goes out to her colleagues and family. I am grateful to have had her as a classmate.

March 10 at 7:32 AM
by Mick from Omaha

I feel that the “Reader” should be more concerned about what happened to two of the university’s “family” members verses the photography for the story. Mr. Torres was my son’s adviser and friend. My thoughts and prayers go out to both families and the university for this terrible tragedy.

March 10 at 7:38 AM
by Martin Engman

I knew Hector when I was a grad student and, subsequently, part-time instructor of mathematics from 86-96. At the time he was working on Linguistics and he and I would discuss the mathematical/logical structure of languages over coffee at the SUB or outside the Humanities building. This illustrates how broad-minded and multi-talented this great man was. He embraced knowledge of all kinds, in any scholarly area, and sought (always in a positive, fun, and extremely enthusiastic way) the connections between apparently distinct philosophies. This is a horrific and unbearable loss.
Vaya con dios, Hector.

March 10 at 8:17 AM
by Don Reese

Hector was a terrific friend who always treated me as a colleague when I was a graduate student at UNM. How terribly sad for such a kind and thoughtful man to die this way.

March 10 at 9:03 AM
by Bernardo Gallegos

I will miss Hector! He was one of my closest freinds. It is not often that one comes accross a person with the combination of intellectual passion, great sense of humor, and worldliness that he possessed. I will treasure all of the moments, arguments, good times, and overall commeraderie that we shared. I am fortunate to have a voicemail that Hector left me a few days ago talking about our freindship. He was so incredibally happy with the new relationship he had developed with Stefania, and I was going to meet her soon. I am in total disbelief about these seemingly surreal turn of events!

March 10 at 9:08 AM
by Kathy McCully

These two deaths come as a double blow for me, who knew them both in passing as a long time student at UNM. I helped Hector with some of his research on his last book, “Conversations with Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Writers” as a student employee at the library and he was always grateful for my help. Whenever I came over to Hector’s office, he always like to talk about his research and other ideas he had for the future.
I knew Stefania through an undergraduate program here at UNM when we went to present our research at North Texas University in Denton, TX. She was very worried over her daughters and concerned for their welfare. I hope that we, the UNM community and greater Albuquerque community, can honor their names with the suggested scholarship in honor of both of their memories and help others live better lives. Hector, Stefania, you will be missed.

March 10 at 9:23 AM
by Kathy mcCully

Is there something we can do to change the laws here in New Mexico about stalking someone? Ralph Montoya was a serial stalker and needed to be stopped way before it led to this tragedy. Unfortunately, the only thing that Stefania could do was to file a restraining order, which obviously did not work. I also know of several other women right now, who are students at UNM who are being stalked and I have known of other tragedies in the past that have occurred here in New Mexico because of poor laws protecting the victim.
This horrible attitude of stalking in New Mexico needs to stop right now!

March 10 at 10:47 AM
by Santhosh

It is really sad that Hector and Stephania are not with us anymore. Hector was a nice man with a brilliant mind. I will miss him. Hector and Stephania, RIP.

March 10 at 12:44 PM
by Rosalie

I personally never knew Professor Torres but my boyfriend took several courses from him at UNM. He would always come home after school and talk about what a brilliant and insightful professor he was. Professor Torres had even asked my boyfriend if he could attend his graduation this May. When I heard the news I was shocked and I immediately called my boyfriend to tell him about the tragedy. Words can never express the sadness and overwhelming emotions when two intelligent people are taken away from this world by an unstable erratic person. My heart and prayers goes out to both Hector and Stephania.

March 10 at 1:38 PM
by Sonya

I will miss my uncle tremendously – our wonderful conversations about so many books we’ve read and enjoyed, thinking about works that were on our “To Read” (or “To re-read” lists, ideas that were floating around in our minds on our mental “To Write” lists, story ideas I was thinking of writing, his thoughtful suggestions of books I should read . . . laughing about funny things that happened to us through the years, smiling about fun times, watching movies together, spending time together at my grandparents’ house. So many things – they ended too soon, too horribly.

This tragedy is definitely hard for us. All I can say is “saudade, Uncle. You are missed, loved, and remembered fondly.”

I can only offer sorrow and empathy for Stefania’s family and friends for their terrible loss. I’m sure it is as painful as my own family’s loss of Hector.

I agree with my cousins – it is good to see so many friends, students, acquaintances who miss the loss of our uncle. No, it doesn’t take away the pain, but it is good to know so many people appreciated him.

My prayers to Stefania’s family and friends – may they begin healing from this incomprehensible sorrow.

March 10 at 1:43 PM
by juliea Benzaquen

Yes, that smile was life giving. I will remember Mr. Torres as a wonderful, kind, funny, caring person and professor. I am so sad for our loss..He will be missed by all of his students!

March 10 at 4:40 PM
by Gloria Larrieu

I’ll never forget Hector. He was my prof for two classes in grad school at UNM and definitely a brilliant, loving, and humorous man. Bless him and Ms. Gray, as well as their families and friends. This is so sad and tragic.

March 10 at 5:51 PM
by Teclo Bolano, San Francisco, CA

I am, God, so appalled at this tragic, tragic loss of two such vibrant figures on campus. Never having been on campus myself (being self-educated, though well- read and a deep, keen thinker), I am doubly afflicted by this Pan-Latin, intranational nightmare. ?No hay mal que por bien no venga? Peut etre, but this surely pushes that envelope. I am imagining the sweet, sere campuscape of UNM, still in the balmy rising light of early dawn with this fine young couple, gliding arm-in-arm, pencil-dark in heavy shadow, blossoms sweet on the vestigial breeze off the mesa- they are, perhaps, going for coffee and chorizo at the local funky breakfast cafe of bohemian repute- the one where the china is chipped and unmatched, the coffe strong, the waitresses hirsute and sly. And…lo! They are not there. The hours have lengthened, the manicured gardens untrammelled now by those beloved shadowforms… Burn in whatever pagan hell begot you Ralph Montoya, 37!!!!!! Where is YOUR tearful portait, sir? At long last- where is YOUR tearful portrait????

March 10, 2010 Posted by | University of New Mexico | 1 Comment

Sexual messiness and Louisiana Tech

 Turns out that Louisiana Tech has no formal regulations regarding student professor relationships.  Good for Louisiana Tech.  No institutionalized snoopers and no sexual policing by university administrators.  But, of course,not everyone is happy with this laissez policy as indicated in this  publication-

 Student-professor relationships are notoriously messy affairs on college campuses, potentially compromising the classroom interactions between the professor and his students or leaving a professor vulnerable to sexual harassment charges. the lack of any written policy discouraging such actions has student opinion split.

 Notoriously messy?  Is such really the case?  In my pedestrian life as a professor, I do not recollect ever having a notoriously messy relationship with a student.  I can’t even recall a highly messy relationship.  I can’t even recall any of my colleagues sexual relationships with students as being notoriously messy.  At least in my case, maybe this messiness did not occur because the relationships occurred in the context of mutual love and respect.

But, of course, consenting adults have the right to engage in relationships, messy or not messy.  Maybe a little messiness makes the relationship a bit more interesting.  After all, if there was no initial messing around nothing would have gotten off the ground.

March 9, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, higher education, Louisiana Tech, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | 2 Comments

UNM student/professor couple murdered

The New Mexico Daily Lobo has reported that UNM English professor Hector Torres  and his girlfriend Stephanie Gray, A UNM grad student in Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, were found dead Monday in his home near campus.

Ralph Montoya, the female victim’s ex-boyfriend, is charged with two counts of murder. He is booked in Metropolitan Detention Court on a $250,000 cash-only bail.
According to the warrant issued by APD, Montoya walked into the downtown office of attorney Lauren Oliveros on Monday and confessed to killing two people on Sunday. He told Oliveros the two bodies could be found at the residence of the male victim.

When police arrived at the residence, at noon, they saw two bodies lying on the floor from the outside window. Upon entering, officers saw the male victim laying face down in a pool of blood with a gun aimed at his head.

According to the report, it appeared to the officers that the gun was placed there by another person to make it look like the victim committed suicide.
Officers reported that the female victim was found face up in a pool of blood, but no visible wounds were found on her body. The male victim is 54 years old, and his girlfriend is 43, according to the report.

In response to the murders, the UNM administeration issued the following statement-

 “The UNM community has been diminished by the untimely deaths of two of our own. Professor Hector Torres will be remembered as a scholar of great passion, dedication and kindness. Graduate student Stefania Gray was a scholar of great promise. Both were wonderful individuals and we join their families and many friends in great sadness.”

Professor Torres was on faculty in the UNM Department of English since 1986. He was born in Tijuana, Mexico, raised in El Paso, Texas and, with the benefit of the GI Bill, earned all his degrees, including a doctorate in English language and literature from the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, he was teaching a course on Chicano Culture, a theory course and was directing an independent study.

He regularly teaches courses in literary and critical theory, postmodernism and contemporary Chicana and Chicano literary discourse and film, English syntax and discourse analysis, as well as courses on writing about film. His research and scholarship focused on contemporary, postmodern Chicana and Chicano literary discourse and film, literary and critical theory.

In a 2007 interview he said, “I think being a Spanish speaker who learned English in school drove my interest in linguistics, language and literature.”

In 2007, with UNM Press he published, “Conversations with Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Writers.” The impetus for the books was in his study of social linguistics – or the relationship between language and society. “The language of literature is language of reflection rather than language through interaction, but the social linguistic approach still interests me,” he said in a 2007 interview.

Stefania Gray was a graduate student in comparative literature in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. She was working with Raji Vallury, assistant professor in French, on her thesis, “Dreams of Andalusia: Women, Gender, Memory and Nation.” She was to defend the day after spring break.

Vallury remembers her as “vibrant, beautiful and strong.” She was a heritage Spanish speaker who earned her undergraduate degree and then went out to the workforce where she was a flight attendant. She came back to school and was the first woman in her family to do post-graduate study. She was already planning to pursue a doctoral degree, Vallury said.

The dankprofessor must note that in the aforementioed statement the UNM administration  does not mention that there was a relationship between the murdered student and murdered professor.  Maybe such a mention would be out of order in this statement.  But I do know this- that in universities throughout the United States, including UNM, student prof couples function in a hostile environment which has been created as a result of a persistent rhetoric which functions to dehumanize such couples.   Universities have given a license to just about  everyone to demean and degrade student professor couples.  And therefore it is not a shocking statement that for the mentally distraught  this cultural framework may function as a LICENSE TO KILL.

March 9, 2010 Posted by | higher education, sex, student professor dating, Uncategorized, University of New Mexico, violence | 1 Comment

   

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