Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Former St. Johns’ dean used students as slaves

I wish it wasn’t so, but wishes do not reflect the reality of a university administrator using students as servant/slaves. Now one of her lawyers stated that the student duties were just the normal duties of a work study student.  The lawyer’s comment is damning because it may be true and if this ends up being her defense she will have to prove it.  This case could blow the cover of administrator largess and exploitation of students.  There should be a huge outcry re this case, but it will not likely occur since there appears to be no sexual component.

In any case, the dankprofessor says again and again do not automatically trust administrators.  They are generally so overpaid that many feel that they can get away with anything.  Following is the NY Times article-

A former administrator at St. John’s University accused of embezzling about $1 million from the college in Queens has now been charged with far more lurid crimes: forcing students to clean, cook and act as her personal servants to keep their scholarships.

The ex-administrator, Cecilia Chang, who served as a dean and vice president at the university, was charged with forced labor and bribery, according to a complaint made public by federal prosecutors on Thursday.

As the dean of the Institute of Asian Studies at St. John’s, Ms. Chang had the authority to grant 15 scholarships a year. The recipients, most of whom were from overseas, were told they had to work 20 hours a week under her supervision.

The students thought they would be doing work related to the university. Instead, according to the prosecutors, she forced them to perform menial tasks at her home in Jamaica Estates, Queens.

One of the students had to drive Ms. Chang’s son to the airport at 3 a.m., the complaint says, and another had to deliver cash to her at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.

And she made it clear that if the students did not perform their extracurricular duties, they would lose their scholarships, which were worth at least $5,000, the complaint says. The loss of the scholarships might have forced some of the students to drop out, it adds.

“In addition to the outrageous way she treated her students, in exchange for scholarships, she had them falsify documents,” Charles Kleinberg, an assistant United States attorney, said at Ms. Chang’s bail hearing in Federal District Court in Brooklyn.

Ms. Chang, 57, did not enter a plea or speak during the one-hour hearing, but she stood shaking her head as prosecutors argued that she was a flight risk because she holds a passport from Taiwan, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

Her lawyers argued that by surrendering on Thursday morning, Ms. Chang demonstrated that she would not flee. They added that she was already wearing an electronic monitoring device as part of the bail conditions in the embezzlement case, a 205-count indictment filed by the Queens district attorney’s office in September.

In that case, Ms. Chang is accused of stealing about $1 million from St. John’s. Prosecutors say she used the money to pay for lingerie, casino trips and her son’s tuition.

After three decades at St. John’s, Ms. Chang was suspended when the embezzlement allegations came to light in January, and she was fired in June.

Magistrate Judge Joan M. Azrack set Ms. Chang’s bail at $1.5 million, to be secured by two homes belonging to friends, one in Hempstead, N.Y., and another in Yonkers. If convicted, Ms. Chang faces at least 10 years in prison, prosecutors said.

After the arraignment, Ron Rubenstein, one of Ms. Chang’s lawyers, said that the students’ duties, which never totaled more than 20 hours a week, were a normal part of the St. John’s work-study program.

Many of those tasks were to help with Taiwanese dignitaries visiting Ms. Chang’s house, where she frequently entertained out-of-town guests for fund-raising purposes, Mr. Rubenstein said.

“The fact that this is even a crime is shocking,” he said outside court. “Cooking a meal doesn’t sound at first blush like work-study, but wait till the trial. I’m not going to give you the defense now.”

According to the complaint, one student, identified only as CI1, “drove Chang to the hair salon, to restaurants and to the airport.”

“As a driver,” it adds, “CI1 was also responsible for taking out the garbage and shoveling snow at Chang’s residence.”

St. John’s officials said that the students who worked under Ms. Chang did not have to worry about losing their scholarships.

“If these allegations by federal authorities are true,” Dominic Scianna, a spokesman for St. John’s, said in a statement, “Ms. Chang’s treatment of some students and the environment she created are shocking and in complete violation of all this university stands for.”

A for-sale sign was posted outside Ms. Chang’s house on Thursday; an Internet listing puts the price at $2.89 million, or for rent at $5,800 a month

October 4, 2010 Posted by | St. John's University, student slavery | 1 Comment

Lawyers/clients and students/profs similarities?

The focus of the dankprofessor blog is on consensual sexual relationships between students and professors.  Occasionally I look beyond the university to see how consensual relationships are handled in other contexts.  What is presently happening in Texas as regards the client lawyer relationship definitely is of interest.

Attorneys working on behalf of the Texas Supreme Court and State Bar of Texas have proposed the state’s first rule prohibiting lawyers from engaging in sexual relationships with clients.

• Lawyers won’t condition representation on having a client engage in sexual relations.

• Lawyers won’t solicit sex as payment of fees.

• Lawyers won’t have sex with someone the lawyer is personally representing unless the sexual relationship is consensual and began before the attorney-client relationship began or if the attorney and client are married.

Now this looks quite reasonable to the dankprofessor and could possibly represent a viable compromise that could be applied to the student professor situation.  However, I do have a major caveat regarding this proposed policy and that regards the automatic exemption from regulation if the attorney and client are married.  Problem is that marriage in Texas is not open to same sex couples so the policy appears to end up discriminating against gay couples.  I say appears since the policy exempts from regulation couples who had an ongoing relationship prior to the client/attorney relationship.  So the marriage reference could be dropped without reference to marriage.

Even with the aforementioned change, there is a whole array of problems that could come into play.  How does one prove that a sexual relationship occurred prior to the attorney/client relationship?  Might such proof function as an invasion of privacy of the client? Who can initiate said investigation, etc?  I trust that these procedural matters will be discussed as the policy consideration proceeds.

It also should be pointed out that the lawyer/client relationship is more like the psychotherapist/patient relationship than the student professor relationship.  In both of the aforementioned relationships the relationship generally occurs on a one to one basis in a private setting, a setting in which it is of paramount importance that the client be able to be completely open with the lawyer.  Both the patient and the client usually enter the relationship in a situation of high anxiety; both are in a situation of dis-ease. Such is not ordinarily the situation of students taking a class in a public setting in which revelation of personal intimate information is generally not required.

In addition, the client does not become a part of the legal community. The student does become a part of the university community.  And the student is not paired with a particular professor in which the pair is in an adversarial relationship with another professor.

Although there are things we can learn from the Texas proposal, in no way do I want the university campus to become similar to a court room and more similar to the legal profession.  If anything, too many university campuses have become torn asunder under the tutelege of dueling lawyers.


October 4, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | 2 Comments

   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers

%d bloggers like this: