Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

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

Burning desire in the classroom

The dankprofessor now feels that he may have been just a bit too hard  on William Deresiewicz (aka Cockmaster D while he was a professor at Yale) in my last post on his “Love on Campus” essay. 

Deresiewicz  is one of the very few academics who has directly opposed what has become a campus “truth” which is that female students never initiate anything sexual with a professor.  Almost all campus fraternization policies say that such is the case.  Female students are never seen as having any agency in this area.  Female students are not seen as being attracted to male profs.

Deresiewicz puts it in in these terms:

Love is a flame, and the good teacher raises in students a burning desire for his or her approval and attention, his or her voice and presence, that is erotic in its urgency and intensity. The professor ignites these feelings just by standing in front of a classroom talking about Shakespeare or anthropology or physics, but the fruits of the mind are that sweet, and intellect has the power to call forth new forces in the soul. Students will sometimes mistake this earthquake for sexual attraction…

I think that Deresiewicz has it right in terms of professors igniting students, at least some of the students some of the time. Of course, there are many profs who never ignite students.  I surmise that it is the non-igniting professors who are the profs who are likely to become involved in sexual harassment charges; their advances are hardly ever welcomed by students.  On the other hand, the fully engaged and engaging professors are the ones likely to become involved in consensual sexual relationships with students since they are dealing with students who are ignited as a byproduct of their involvement in the class.  Or to put it in what may be overly simplified terms, professors who love teaching their subject are likely to become the subject of student love.  Of course, in the end Deresiewicz cops out- the students are mistaken, their “earthquake” has nothing to do with sexual attraction;
professors should help these jolted students avoid the excesses of campus love.

What Deresiewicz also fails to understand is that what he calls an earthquake experience is not unique to female students on campus.  In traditional terms, such is called being swept away.  The swept away feeling although applicable to both men and women, tends to be viewed as more often sought and experienced by women.  It is also used as a rationale for having sex-
“he just swept me off my feet”- although the swept away feeling may be less often invoked for sex in todays hookup and binge drinking campus culture.

Now someone who understands the swept away experience is unlikely to state to the swept away, as Deresiewicz states, that ‘you are mistaken, you are not really attracted to the prof, you are just experiencing brain sex.’  The dankprofessor response to Deresiewicz and others giving this sort of counsel to the swept way is that the professor counselors know little or nothing about love and romance and sex in the real world.  The fact that they often attempt to enforce their sexual biases as formal campus rules for sexual behavior is otherworldly.  What we pedestrian students and professors are often left with are campus administrators who suffer from both puffery and buffoonery in their everyday campus sexual rule making and enforcing.

May 12, 2009 Posted by | attractive professors, brain sex, consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, love, passion, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, student professor dating, Yale University | 2 Comments

On proper student professor sexual relationships

In a 2007 AMERICAN SCHOLAR essay on “Love on Campus” by William Deresiewicz, the author has some interesting observations on student professor relationships.  He states:

…there is a reality behind the new, sexualized academic stereotype, only it is not what the larger society thinks. Nor is it one that society is equipped to understand. The relationship between professors and students can indeed be intensely intimate, as our culture nervously suspects, but its intimacy, when it occurs, is an intimacy of the mind. I would even go so far as to say that in many cases it is an intimacy of the soul. And so the professor-student relationship, at its best, raises two problems for the American imagination: it begins in the intellect, that suspect faculty, and it involves a form of love that is neither erotic nor familial, the only two forms our culture understands. Eros in the true sense is at the heart of the pedagogical relationship, but the professor isn’t the one who falls in love.

Love is a flame, and the good teacher raises in students a burning desire for his or her approval and attention, his or her voice and presence, that is erotic in its urgency and intensity. The professor ignites these feelings just by standing in front of a classroom talking about Shakespeare or anthropology or physics, but the fruits of the mind are that sweet, and intellect has the power to call forth new forces in the soul. Students will sometimes mistake this earthquake for sexual attraction, and the foolish or inexperienced or cynical instructor will exploit that confusion for his or her own gratification. But the great majority of professors understand that the art of teaching consists not only of arousing desire but of redirecting it toward its proper object, from the teacher to the thing taught.

Of course, Deresiewicz is right, but only partially right.  He is right in the sense that the student and the professor often have a passion for the subject matter.  And it is a passion that can facilitate an intense intimacy, and an intense desire by the student for approval and affirmation.  Such is what the dankprofessor calls the love of knowledge. But what Deresiewicz fails to understand is that sometimes this intimacy can lead to the knowledge of love.  He fails since he discards the knowledge of love as simply a mistake by a naïve student and a foolish or inexperienced or cynical instructor who will exploit the student for his or her own ends.

So Deresiewicz ends up playing the same old academic game when it comes to student professor sexual relationships.  The student doesn’t know, the cynical professor exploits the naïve vulnerable student.  But how does Deresiewicz know?  He knows the same way that big sister and big brother know.  They know the mind of the Other, know what motivates the Other and what is proper for the Other.  And in Deresiewicz’s terms the proper professor will redirect desire toward its proper object, from the teacher to the thing taught.

So what the good professor wants is the proper professor and proper student never engaging in improprieties.  Such, of course, is a form of pipe dreaming. And if there is a serious attempt to have the university not tolerate such improper relationships, such could very well transform university campuses into police states.

The author goes on to state-

Teaching, Yeats said, is lighting a fire, not filling a bucket, and this is how it gets lit. The professor becomes the student’s muse, the figure to whom the labors of the semester — the studying, the speaking in class, the writing — are consecrated. The alert student understands this. In talking to one of my teaching assistants about these matters, I asked her if she’d ever had a crush on an instructor when she was in college. Yes, she said, a young graduate student. “And did you want to have sex with him?” I asked. “No,” she said, “I wanted to have brain sex with him.”

Of course, he could have had a myriad of responses to his question, but for the author, one response is sufficient for him to make his case. But such is insufficient for the dankprofessor.  For the dankprofessor knows that there are many alert female students who went on to graduate school and to become teaching assistants who did want to have sex with their professor and some had sex and some may have even ended up mating with a professor, maybe even mating with a professor who was a colleague of Deresiewicz. 

But I also wish to make it clear that that the concept of “brain sex” as described in this essay, may very well be a viable concept.  But what I refuse to accept is the implication that “brain sex” exists on some higher plane than “ordinary” student professor sex.  Whether it is student professor brain sex or student professor sexual congress neither one per se is a mistake which needs redirection. 

The major problem in regards to sex, whether it be on or off campus, are the zealots and the self-righteous in their attempts to redirect the sexuality of others to some pre-ordained mold.  The love of knowledge will often lead to the knowledge of love, irrespective of what notions of propriety may be the calling of the day.

May 10, 2009 Posted by | attractive professors, brain sex, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, love, passion, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, student professor dating, Yale University | 1 Comment

HOT FOR TEACHER at the University of Minnesota

HOT FOR TEACHER is the attention getting headline for the University of Minnesota student newspaper article authored by Ashley Dresser on student professor sexual relationships.  Although the headline is a tad sensationalistic, the dankprofessor believes that this is one of the very few student newspapers articles on this subject that generally gets it right.

Much of the article is based on an interview with a female student referred to as Prudence, who is having a relationship with a professor. Prudence is a pseudonym; such was, of course, the prudent thing to do.  Prudence referred to the professor as MY professor.  As the article states:

“Well, I find MY professor to be hot.” When we asked her exactly what she meant with that kind of emphasis on ownership, she proceeded to unveil every girl’s college fantasy:
“I’ve known him, my professor boyfriend, since I started working in his department about two years ago. I never took a class under him, but he always flirted with me…I blew him off mostly, but a couple of months ago he asked me out to dinner. We have had many, many discussions about whether or not it’s okay to pursue this, but so far it’s working out well enough. We just have to be discreet about it.” Before I could even get the question out of my mouth, Prudence added, “And yes, I call him ‘professor’ in bed.”

So much for all the articles that phrase student professor relationship in terms of professors being attracted to the student but generally via omission deny the reality that students are often attracted to professors.

As stated by the writer-

My classmates and I were awestruck by her academic prowess, but it did cross our minds that he could just be a hairy old man. A couple of Facebook clicks later, however, and Prudence proved us wrong. He is, in fact, a gorgeous specimen – perhaps heightened by the fact that he is not opposed to scandalous romance. (As a side note: the fact that we now have the ability to friend our professors on Facebook to learn more about their personal lives, sift through their photos, etc. makes this dating scene even more hot to handle.)

And then the writer violates campus journalistic tradition and provides material from an interview with the professor, albeit the professor is cloaked in anonymity-

“It is highly likely that us professors are attracted to our students,” Prudence’s professor said when asked for comment. “We see our students every single day and if they are taking a class with us, that probably means we have the same interests…And in general, guys don’t really care about age or profession with girls, so the fact that they are attracted to one of their students isn’t necessarily going to bother them.”

Well, in the dankprofessor’s opinion the professor gets it right.  This is why the dankprofessor uses the phraselogy of “from the love of knowledge to the knowledge of love”.

The author then states-

Yet it does seem to bother a lot of other people. A simple Google search of “professor-student relationships” brings up a wealth of commentary about its pros and cons. In particular, check out www.dankprofessor.wordpress.com [2]. It is a weblog that “examines the sexual politics in higher education and beyond.” Parents and the university administrations tend to be the two major groups that are having the qualms, which is ironic, since neither of them are the ones in the actual relationship itself.

Well, the author gets it right about the dankprofessor weblog. But she doesn’t get it completely right when she states that parents and university administrators are the two major opposing groups. She omits the major grouping- women’s studies faculty and feminist faculty who adhere to a hardcore anti sexual and anti male agendas. This group was the prime mover in the adoption of the sexual codes regarding student professor relationships and it is this group which would attempt to make trouble for any professor sexually involved with a student, no matter whether the student had ever been in the professor’s class.  And it is this group that administrators are adverse to challenging and generally are willing to go along with their effort to make life miserable for any professor dating any student.  Such is consistent with the decision of the student and professor who are the subjects of this article to not reveal their identity.  And it should also be pointed out that some universities formally ban all student professor fraternization.  But even when the relationship are not de jure banned as in the present case, the relationship is de facto banned in the framework of the professor becoming subjected to an array of punishments- from being treated rudely by fellow faculty to getting a horrid teaching schedule to being terminated.

As for parents, the following is stated-

“My parents would try to talk me out of it, if they knew,” Prudence said. “They would say I’m squandering my youth or that he’s using me for sex…The professor and I are sixteen years apart, but I would definitely recommend dating a professor to any student. They are more worldly and mature and they know how to treat a lady. I’m not knocking college boys, but they still have a lot of growing up to do.”

Well, Prudence may be a bit off base re parental response.  Based on my experience and knowledge of the experience of others, most parents are unlikely to respond with horror to their daughter dating a professor, particularly if they have met the professor.  And, of course, if one of the parents is a prof, rapport may develop quickly between the professor parent and the professor who loves the daughter.  So I urge Prudence to be a bit more prudent, and not to assume that her parents will be rejecting parents.

The article ends with the following quote from Prudence-

“It’s all media and society hype that makes it seem so bad. Over the years, people have also given relationships in which the male is significantly older than the female a bad name…They make it seem like the guy is just after sex. Well, I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but aren’t all guys, no matter what age, after sex? At the end of the day, we are just two people looking for some companionship.”

Amen from the dankprofessor.  And this is what I have been trying to do- get beyond the hype to the everyday realities of these relationships. What is two people looking for companionship has been demonized over and over again by moral zealots and the morally perverse.  To argue as Mark Bourrie has argued that professors involved in these sorts of relationships are “scum” and Erik Ringmar that such professors are disgusting is morally perverse.

Congratulations to Ashley Dresser for writing this article and I encourage my blog readers to read the entirety of this article.

May 2, 2009 Posted by | attractive professors, attractive students, consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, love, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, University of Minnesota | 1 Comment

Female student response on disgusting professors

The dankprofessor needs to give more visibility to a comment by a female student on the disgusting professor post.  So here it is as a separate post-

Comment:
I am an intelligent, twenty year old, female student and I have been attracted to multiple professors–none of which were balding, middle-aged, or disgusting.

The reality is that, a lot of the time, professors at universities are NOT drastically older than their students. Nearly half of my professors have been less than fifteen years older than me, which makes them far from middle-aged. And this is just argument for the sake of argument. Because, in reality, age is nothing but a number and ought to have no bearing on the issue.

Furthermore, the teachers that I have been attracted to, were attractive in the degree to which they were LESS disgusting than other men that I’ve met. They are rational, sensitive, inquisitive, socially involved, and far from “scheming pedophiles.” These two issues (catholic preist pedophilia and student-teacher passions) simply can’t be compared if only for the sheer fact that twenty year old girls are adults. I am an adult. Sorry to break it to you, Mr. Ringmar.

I am even somewhat involved with a former professor of mine. We are friends, but our friendship has negotiable boundaries. And for the record he is only 28. He is working toward his Doctorate. He has never disrespected me.

That is the reality of things.

April 30, 2009 Posted by | attractive professors, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, love, NCTU, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | 3 Comments

   

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