Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Princeton coed uncovered on Harvard Mag cover

I am not sure if I got it right in the headline.  So with a few more words I hope to do a better job.

Princeton coed Margaret Sullivan, class of 2012, posed nude in DIAMOND, a “Harvard” magazine, and she assumed that if she only used her first name no one would uncover her real identity, she couldn’t be googled.   She said she posed because she is a poor Princeton student and needed the money.

Maybe she didn’t know she would be on the cover of DIAMOND and it is damn hard for any cover girl to remain undercover. 

Now the Diamond text just above the picture reads- “Who knew smart people could be so sexy?” 

Well who knew that a Harvard magazine could be so stupid to assume that any smart woman would pose on their cover?  Or who at Harvard would asume that a sexy woman couldn’t be smart?  And how could any woman assume that after being on a cover of a “sex” magazine she could still remain undercover?

Or, of course, this could be all hype.  If not, the Diamond editor could be just another undercover agent for the blues.

November 18, 2009 Posted by | attractive students, Harvard University, higher education, nudity, Princeton University, sex, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

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

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

Intelligent women attracted to disgusting professors?

“There is something perfectly sick about universities — filled with fat, balding, middle-aged men (and women) and a constantly replenished crop of gorgeous 20-something girls (and boys).  Like the Catholic church, with its scheming pedophiles and innocent choir boys, it’s a recipe for disaster…

Why would an intelligent female ever sleep with a disgusting professor?”

Such is how Erik Ringmar, a professor in Taiwan, begins his post “Sex With Students, Pt 1, on his blog, Too Many Mangoes.

Maybe the good professor knows too many disgusting professors who have eaten too many mangoes or maybe the not so good professor considers himself to be a disgusting professor whose lecherous meandering have run amok?

Whatever the specifics may be, Ringmar’s imagery tells us more about himself and his imagination then anything about the multiple realities of student professor intimate relationships.

As for his question as to why an intelligent female would ever sleep with a disgusting professor, I would surmise that the intelligent female would not consider the professor disgusting.  The same would be said about the professor who sleeps with an intelligent female, the overwhelming probability is that the professor does not consider the female to be disgusting?  Maybe Ringmar’s problem is that he considers any party to such a relationship to be disgusting in the same manner that people who are anti-gay consider all gay relationships to be disgusting. 

Professor Ringmar’s problem is that apparently he can’t get beyond his disgust, and that he feels uninhibited in degrading persons who are or have been in a student professor relationship.

Well, Ringmar should know that more than a couple of professors who have been subjected to such degrading rhetoric do not feel degraded. Far from it.  They live their private lives in private, not engaging in any sort of sexual spectacle. Some have had the good fortune of meeting an intellectual confrere who they found attractive and such attraction was reciprocated.  Some, including the dankprofessor, eventually transitioned from student professor to husband and wife.

I have no doubt that even in Taiwan the love of knowledge can lead to the knowledge of love.  For those of you who have an open mind as well as having their eyes wide open, it can also happen to you.

April 29, 2009 Posted by | attractive students, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, love, NCTU, privacy, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Taiwan | 4 Comments

Sex and love between students and professors

Well once again Professor Mark Bourrie’s response to the dankprofessor is a non- response.
Here it is unexpurgated, uncensored.

“Dank indeed.
I’ve answered your worthless critique many times.
All you seem to care about is rationalizing
your seduction of your students. You are scum”

Bourrie’s usage of the scum rhetoric strips away his cloak of professionalism.  No attempt to use professionalism here as a rationalization for his attitudes toward professors who have been intimate with their students.  No attempt here for Bourrie to engage in any minimal form of academic or polite or enlightening discourse.  His tactics are those of a hatemonger- objectify and dehumanize those who are on the other side.  “Create” them in whatever terms the hatemonger wishes.  No matter that Dank has never seduced anyone, Bourrie can still create and communicate Dank as a seducer without any need to cite supporting evidence since Dank is a creation of Bourrie’s imagination.  Bourrie can imagine Dank and other professors who are intimate with students in what ever terms he wishes.  Of course, such tells us more about Bourrie than it tells us about Dank, et .al.  The fact that he homogenizes us, makes us all the same, allows no possibility that some of us seduce and some do not, is quite damning of Bourrie.  As the philosopher Martin Buber would likely state, Bourrie lives in an I/it world, a world of impersonal categories, a world that is never allowed to transcend into an I/thou framework, a framework where there is personalization, where individuals are experienced as unique beings, where relationships are explored, where people can be appreciated and even loved.  It is also a world that has been described by the anthropologist Mary Douglas, as a world of dirt and pollution and scum; a world infected by those who have engaged in violations of what is considered to be sacred.

In this world which Bourrie has created, there is no love.  Bourrie along with many others
whose opposition to student professor relationships mainly has an anti-sexual dynamic, cannot comprehend that there can be a loving relationship between a student and a professor.  The idea that a mutual love of knowledge can lead to love, a passion for each other is out of their world.  The idea that some of these relationships become long term and lead to marriage, and even marriage at times without divorce is not considered.  I think that I am on pretty firm ground when I believe that Bourrie has never given any consideration to the possibility that some of the professors and administrators he riles against at Concordia for not advocating student professor bans may very well have fallen in love with and married a student.  And I am also quite sure that Bourrie has never entertained the possibility that some of his students may very well be the children of persons who were once in student professor relationships.

The mundane world of love, marriage and children is not there for Bourrie as applied to student professor relationships. Well, this mundane world is and was part of my world, and Bourrie’s writing me off and others like me as scum is not just beyond good taste, it reflects a descent into indecency and degradation.  It reflects an attempt to pull his readers into his pornographic imagination.

And more must be said about love.  It is striking that Mark Bourrie and his confreres say nothing about love, and nothing about falling in love.  Such is striking since their often avowed goals is to preserve fairness and objectivity when it comes to grading.  But never once does Bourrie say that the professor who has fallen in love with a student, a love which may be only known to the professor, should recuse oneself from grading the loved student or go to his supervisor to insure said love should not bias the grading process.

And as for barring student professor relationships that entail friendship without sex, Bourrie in his recent posting discounts such relationships as being different, not applicable.  But, if ones goal really is to protect fairness in grading, one must know that at times close friendships, loving friendships can produce bonds that could threaten the fairness of the grading process. But Bourrie and apparently many others do not care about love and friendship interfering with grading.  What they care about is sex and furthering their anti-sexual agenda.  The fairness in grading appeal helps them to rationalize their goals, and that is too stamp out sex between students and professors. 

As long as universities are not replaced by online education, there will be love and sex between students and professors.  Such has become and will unfortunately continue to be at least into the near future, the love that dare not speak its name.  And dankprofessor blog readers can be assured that the dankprofessor will continue to speak its name. Such is my pledge.

April 14, 2009 Posted by | attractive students, Canada, Concordia University, consensual relationships, dating, ethics, grading, higher education, love, Mark Bourrie, passion, sex, sexual harassment, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | 3 Comments

Student professor intimate relationship attacked, pt. 3

Mark Bourrie’s response to my blogging merits a reply.  His response follows-
 
 No, Dank, I want professors to act professionally, in the context of the power inequity that exists, the disruptive aspects of these affairs to the rest of the students, the possibility of litigation, the real and perceived conflicts re: marks, scholarships, internships, references, etc. You need not put words in my mouth. I have made myself very clear. The legal profession views clients as adults, and it bans sexual relationships between lawyers and clients because of the power imbalance and the coercive power that comes from the lawyer/client relationship. I believe this is the same type of power imbalance that exists between profs and students.

Of course, I agree with Dr. Bourrie that we should all be concerned about the disruptive aspects of these affairs if there be any.  Of course, if affairs of any kind are introduced into the classroom and such is disruptive of the class agenda, remedial action should be taken.  Remedial action should be taken in terms of any kind of disruptive behavior, such as students talking to others during lecture, or persistently interrupting others, being rude to to others, etc.  However, I expect that we would agree that students do not have a right not to be offended in the classroom. If we systematically avoid dealing with subjects that we fear would be offensive to some students, then education would be reduced to a form of pablum.

As for the possibility of litigation in regards to consensual student professor intimate relationships, the dankprofessor knows of no successful litigation that has been taken in this area.  At least I know of none that has taken place in the United States.  Maybe the situation is different in Canada.  Maybe, Dr. Bourrie can give me some examples of successful litigation in regards to consensual student professor intimate relationships.  And, of course, I am not referring to sexual harassment lawsuits in which there might have previously been a consensual relationship.  I will not defend persons who are a party to sexually harassing another.  I will hold that the behavior of persons who engage in mutual consent in the present situation under consideration should not and do not fall within the purview of litigation; such should be considered basic and elementary.

As for real and perceived conflicts of interests in regards to grading, etc., if I could wave a magic wand and remove all sexual interaction between students and professors, perceived conflicts of interests would remain rife in the university.  It is par for the course for students to believe and often state that another student received a higher grade than oneself because the professor liked him or her or the professor does not like me as much as him or her.  Students usually use this technique or psychological ploy to avoid attending/dealing with their own work; it is often a way of refusing to accept criticism and it is widespread in academia. Of course, any prof who feels he/she cannot objectively evaluate any student should recuse him or herself from evaluating that student.  Unfortunately, such is unlikely  to occur; said recusing prof would probably be stigmatized or even terminated.  

Problems relating to prejudicial grading should be at the forefront of university concern, e.g, how to avoid prejudicial grading when the professor finds the student exceptionally physically attractive, reminds one of ones ex-girlfriend, etc., or is repelled by the appearance of the student.  Nothing on this in the university.  These sorts of grading issues usually only come up by those who suffer from a “keen” interest in the sexual behavior of others, whether it be of a professional or non-professional nature.  If so-called professionalism rationalizes or justifies such an interest, such is most unfortunate.  In my opinion, in general terms, terms like professionalism often function to cover up the real underlying interests.  Such is my non-professional but professorial opinion.  The dankprofessor also has an opinion as to why charges of prejudicial grading are never lodged against womens studies professors who  hold that they should bond with their female students or who have overtly expressed hateful comments about men.  But I will withhold my opinion on this. Maybe Bourrie can help us out on this one.

As for the university adopting policies similar to those adopted by the legal profession or the lawyering class being held out as a model for the professor class, God help us.  Yes, there are many ethical problems and other problems in the university world, particularly plagiarism by both students and professors and administrators, but such I believe dwells into insignificance as to the the ethical problems of the lawyering class.  Putting ethics and lawyers together is often considered to be an oxymoron.  In any case, the lawyer client relationship is simply not analogous to the student professor relationship.

April 8, 2009 Posted by | attractive students, Canada, Concordia University, consensual relationships, ethics, grading, higher education, litigation, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Getting rid of attractive students

The dankprofessor has argued that at the core of banning student professor sexual relationships is an anti sexual dynamic, a dynamic that is often stated in rather stark terms which puts such relationships in a child molestation framework with the professor being the sexual predator and the student being the innocent child or childlike female student. Some times the framework is closer to a rape framework with the professor being an adult rapist and the student an adult or near adult rape victim. Whatever be the specifics of the framework, the outcome is the same- the female student is unable to give consent. This sounds pretty outlandishly anti-sexual . However, some have argued that this sexual banning really is not anti-sexual, and that the reason for such bans is to protect the grading process, to eliminate the possibility that the enamored professor will prejudicially grade the loved one. To put the argument in a nutshell, professors are committed to non-prejudicial grading and sacrificing the rights of students and professors from loving each other in a grading context is a necessary sacrifice. On the surface this sounds like a reasonable argument. However, the overwhelming predominant academic reality is that professors provide only lip service to the sacredness of the grading process; lip service since professors generally do not emotionally invest themselves in grading; “good” grading does not help one get hired, promoted or tenured. Investing oneself in good grading, emphasizing how one is a committed non-prejudicial grader will not help one advance in academia. At whatever university and in whatever discipline, valued and remembered professors will be remembered as good teachers or good researchers or good scholars and not as outstanding non-prejudicial graders.

And given the lack of value put on grading, there is little or no emphasis on the prevention of prejudicial grading. There are no workshops on the prevention of prejudicial grading. There is much rhetoric in contemporary academic life about matters relating to race, gender and class, but nothing of a formal or informal nature directed toward professors as to how to avoid race, class and gender biases as such effect the grading process, whether the grading relates to grading a student one likes or one dislikes. One can politically and ideologically bond with students, one can fight and demonstrate with students to take back the night, but hardly anyone argues that one cannot grade these same students. Of course, students frequently complain that professors engage in prejudicial grading, that so and so students received a high grade because the professor liked him or her. But such talk is seen by almost all professors as just talk, certainly no talk that would lead one to take some sort of action or to lead the talked about to take a self-inventory.

If professors were really concerned about prejudicial grading, they would overtly demand that faculty deal with what heretofore has been unmentionable- that faculty, both male and female faculty, both married and unmarried faculty, both feminist and sexist professors are sexually attracted and sometimes very sexually attracted to some of their students some of the time. Every person who has ever professed knows this to be true and every professor know that being differentially attracted to students can lead to differential grading to some degree based on said attractiveness. Of course, we all know that the the physically attractive, the beautiful people are advantaged in just about all sectors of everyday life.

Robert Cialdini, in Influence: Science and Practice, summarizes the dynamic in these terms-

“Research has shown that we automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favorable traits as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence (for a review of this evidence, see Eagly, Ashmore, Makhijani, & Longo, 1991). Furthermore, we make these judgments without being aware that physical attractiveness plays a role in the process. Some consequences of this unconscious assumption that “good-looking equals good” scare me. For example, a study of the 1974 Canadian federal elections found that attractive candidates received more than two and a half times as many votes as unattractive candidates (Efran & Patterson, 1976). Despite such evidence of favoritism toward handsome politicians, follow-up research demonstrated that voters did not realize their bias. In fact, 73 percent of Canadian voters surveyed denied in the strongest possible terms that their votes had been influenced by physical appearance; only 14 percent even allowed for the possibility of such influence (Efran & Patterson, 1976). Voters can deny the impact of attractiveness on electability all they want, but evidence has continued to confirm its troubling presence (Budesheim & DePaola, 1994).

A similar effect has been found in hiring situations. In one study, good grooming of applicants in a simulated employment interview accounted for more favorable hiring decisions than did job qualifications – this, even though the interviewers claimed that appearance played a small role in their choices (Mack & Rainey, 1990). The advantage given to attractive workers extends past hiring day to payday. Economists examining U.S. and Canadian samples have found that attractive individuals get paid an average of 12-14 percent more than their unattractive coworkers (Hammermesh & Biddle, 1994).

Equally unsettling research indicates that our judicial process is similarly susceptible to the influences of body dimensions and bone structure. It now appears that good-looking people are likely to receive highly favorable treatment in the legal system (see Castellow, Wuensch, & Moore, 1991; and Downs & Lyons, 1990, for reviews). For example, in a Pennsylvania study (Stewart, 1980), researchers rated the physical attractiveness of 74 separate male defendants at the start of their criminal trials. When, much later, the researchers checked court records for the results of these cases, they found that the handsome men had received significantly lighter sentences. In fact, attractive defendants were twice as likely to avoid jail as unattractive defendants. In another study – this one on the damages awarded in a staged negligence trial – a defendant who was better looking than his victim was assessed an average amount of $5,623; but when the victim was the more attractive of the two, the average compensation was $10,051. What’s more, both male and female jurors exhibited the attractiveness-based favoritism (Kulka & Kessler, 1978).

Other experiments have demonstrated that attractive people are more likely to obtain help when in need (Benson, Karabenic, & Lerner, 1976) and are more persuasive in changing the opinions of an audience (Chaiken, 1979)…”

And the dankprofessor asks, are there any believers that such is different in the academic world, that physical attractiveness plays no role in grading and in academic gamesmanship in general?

If professors were really honest about this dynamic and at the same time committed to non-prejudicial grading, what might they do to minimize prejudicial grading? Might they recuse themselves from grading attractive students? Not possible. Might the university have dual classes, one class for the attractive and the other for the non-attractive? No way. But what about bringing about what had been not a rarity in the past in academia and that is the introduction of a student dress code. And the dress code would be that students dress in an absolutely uniform and bland manner, and that code be strictly enforced by administrators who have been specially trained to create and enforce dress codes. Unquestionably, there would be misdirected faculty and students who would hold such a code to be in violation of student civil liberties and rights. But the sacrifice of such rights would be a small sacrifice to make in the pursuit of fair and non-prejudicial grading. And, of course, students and professors have been asked (demanded) that they sacrifice the right to have sex with each other, the right to romance each other, the right to love each other all in the supposed name of protecting fair and non-prejudicial grading. And if as has been pointed out by banning advocates that students have not fully developed the ability to consent in sexual matters why would one assume that these same students have developed the ability to decide how to dress on an everyday basis? Better to let the specially trained to decide how you dress as long as you are a student at our university.

OK, for the distraught students who believe that they just can’t accept a dress code, they better get with the code or they will get a public dressing down. And remember Big Brother and Big Sister loves all students equally in all their surface blandness and sameness. No need to fret about the physically attractive getting an unfair better deal. Right?

More to follow in upcoming posts.

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If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2008

January 18, 2008 Posted by | attractive students, consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, fraternization, grading, higher education, love, recusal, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Dating in the workplace and the university place

The NY Times has reported that office dating is becoming more acceptable, that is, more acceptable in the office.  Not that workplace dating ever decreased in the context of sexual harassment indoctrination which demanded one adhere to the line that office dating was a no-no since it could end up in an office imbroglio or some co-worker might become offended or upset or envious that he or she was not the chosen and such could end up representing a hostile work environment.  No matter that most or almost all of the office mates might feel great that true love was blooming in their midst; always lurking in the background could be the unloved waiting to take weighty action against the loved ones and their employers.  No wonder that office romance had become closeted romance.  But now the Times report there is change and these changes in the workplace and the accompanying concerns and issues also have relevance to dating in the university place. Excerpts from the Times article follows.

“An online survey this year by CareerBuilder.com found a significant drop in the number of workers who are keeping an office romance a secret, down from 46 percent in 2005 to 34 percent in 2007. About half of workers say they have dated a co-worker, according to CareerBuilder.com surveys conducted annually for the last three years.

The taboo of the affaire de cubicle has lost some potency, but exactly how much is difficult to gauge as statistics vary from survey to survey. Still, “you see quite a bit of emphasis on work-life balance,” said Jennifer Sullivan, who oversaw the CareerBuilder.com survey, conducted by Harris Interactive. Companies, she said, are allowing more flexibility versus having a handbook dictate how employees need to behave and what those relationships should look like in the office.

As a result, she added, “people are much more open about their relationships.”

Every workplace culture is different, with some less tolerant of office dating. A survey last year by the Society for Human Resource Management and CareerJournal.com found that, over all, there was fading concern about potential sexual harassment allegations (77 percent were concerned about it in 2005, down from 95 percent in 2001) but increasing concern that office dating could cause conflict among jilted lovers.

To that end there are now magazine articles and Web sites that not only condone going to work and picking up more than a paycheck, but that also offer advice on how to successfully do so. A book coming out next month, a kind of “The Rules” for the office, would have been difficult to publish in 1991.

In “Office Mate: The Employee Handbook for Finding – and Managing – Romance on the Job” (Adams Media, November 2007), the writers Stephanie Losee and Helaine Olen (who both married colleagues) say the workplace is the new village – and therefore an ideal place to find love.

Ms. Losee said the growing acceptance of office dating (not to be confused with a hookup) is something of a backlash against dating Web sites. “I’m not surprised that the Internet has not proven to be the locus of community we thought it would be,” she said, citing the notion in Robert D. Putnam’s book, “Bowling Alone,” that “we need to be physically near each other to feel happier and better in our everyday lives.”

“Where do we still have that physical proximity of neighborhoodliness?” she said. “It’s at the office.”

Well, the dankprofessor must agree that physical proximity or neighborhoodliness should be ideal for the blooming of romance.  In the social science literature this was called the principle of propinquity.  Of course, internet dating did away with the necessity of any physical proximity. But the girl next store or the guy in the next seat still had its pull and its convenience.  Get a whole bunch of people together who are eminently eligible and one will find dating and mating.

Such, of course, is the situation in regards to university life, thousands exuding eligibility in a community setting of a university. The fact that most of the university citizenry are students and a minority faculty members does not represent any “natural” boundary to romance.  Such should not be shocking to anyone that it has never been infrequent that men who are older and of higher status are found to be attractive by females, including female students attracted to professors.

Some puritanical feminists such as  Billy Dziech simply discard the professor who is sexually responsive to a female student as being lecherous.  Others discard the professor as being hung up on young women; as being on a power trip; as someone who should grow up and date women their own age.  Others go further and view such professors as dangerous predators who victimize young girls who are unable to provide consent and who merit excommunication from the university.

Myself, I take a very pedestrian view based on the principle of propinquity.  Eligible men will wish to date eligible women who are physically proximate and who they find attractive.  Such also applies to women.  Such also applies to female students and male professors.  No big deal. No rule, no ideologues no matter how motivated, will prevent such dating and mating. Driving student/professors into the closet yes; stopping such romances absolutely no. Can one seriously entertain the notion that such sexual repression could be effective knowing that a millenium of vicious anti-homosexuality did not prevent men and women from engaging in same sex affections?  Of course, effective repression was driving homosexually attracted men and women into the closet.  In essence the dominant society wanted qay people to be out of sight and therefore out of mind.  The “good” homosexuals were the homosexuals who did not flaunt, the good homosexuals were not seen as part of a homosexual couple but rather as good friends.

However, in today’s academic world all too many campuses are characterized by a hypersensitivity toward any male professor/female student interaction which in some subtle manner might indicate a sexual component.  Some people will impute a sexual component if the two persons stand close to each other; if there is a hug that is reciprocated; if the professor and student are simply talking and walking across campus, etc.  The campus presentations of a professor and student involved with each other are often no different than everyday interactions between a non romantically involved student and professor.  Consequently, almost anyone could become suspect.  Such may be in part the  reason for the increasing impersonality of American  universities.

In addition, university environments without bureaucratically imposed fraternization bans could very well be safer settings for dating and mating.  After all, if people study together, teach and learn together on a frequent basis, it is more likely that those who become romantically involved know each other pretty well prior to the romance blooming.  No need for blind dating.  As stated in the Times article- 

“People who work together have time to get to know one another, Ms. Losee and Ms. Olen said in interviews, to see how potential paramours behave under stress or how they treat the secretary. Unlike online daters, singles in the workplace are less likely to dismiss a good catch based on snap judgments. Take Ms. Losee’s husband, who is shorter than her and who liked to wear an oversize linen jacket, she said, that leaves something to be desired. “If I met him at a bar I would not have given him a chance,” she said. So perhaps, the authors suggest, a gal need not kiss as many frogs if she is allowed to kiss Kenneth from payroll. But does that mean she should?”

Of course, the dankprofessor does not advocate that she should, what I do advocate is that it is her and his decision to make.

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If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submiited for consideration to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor.

© Copyright 2007

October 16, 2007 Posted by | attractive students, consensual relationships, corporate dating bans, dating, ethics, fraternization, higher education, student professor dating, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Grading and Degrading in Higher Education

In my prior posting on attractive students and attracted professors, I did overlook a major point I should have made.  And that is when it comes to the student-professor relationship while in an ongoing class, the point is made over and over again by critical professors that such a situation should not be allowed since it would lead to prejudicial grading, and prejudicial grading should be avoided even if it would involve not allowing the student in the classroom or removing the student from the classroom or having some other prof grade the student.  What irks me about this situation is that the complaining professors overlook other situations that are rife in academe and could lead to the dreaded prejudicial grading.  One such situation is the situation of being physically attracted to a particular student; no one ever advises profs who are attracted to students to not grade these students since the grading may be prejudicial.  Of course, prejudicial feelings also may enter when the prof finds a particular student to be physically repulsive or when a student reminds the professor of a person whom one may have intensely negative or positive feelings. The potentiality of prejudicial grading is hardly ever considered when one may have a friend enrolled in the class, or a friend of a friend enrolled or a child of a friend, etc. etc. I could go go on and on.  My ultimate point here is that opposition to student-prof relationships while the student is enrolled in the profs class is not really about the possibility of prejudicial grading, prejudicial grading is often a smoke screen for opposition to professors being involved sexually/romantically with their students.  It is the sort of reaction one has when some strong taboo has been violated, such as an incest taboo, a feeling of repulsion, a feeling that  the offender has violated us and is not now a part of us.  In higher education, the student-prof relationship is now all too often seen or felt as equivalent to an incest taboo violation.  Such is the reason that there is so little dispassionate discussion of this issue.  Dispassionate discussion cannot take place in the context of hysteria.  And it is those suffering from hysterical thinking that are the major promulgators of these taboos.  Of course most faculty stay essentially on the sidelines, nodding in agreement with those who pornographise student-prof relationships.  Of course, there is much more that can and should be presented about this visceral reaction against student-prof relationships. And such will be forthcoming in future blog postings.

And some ending observations on the potentiality of prejudicial grading whatever the source may be of said potentiality.  Ethically engaged professors in all aspects of their professorial activities should engage in self-inventories, self-questioning about the ethical implications of their work.  Such self-questioning and self-inventory taking should be a sort of a taken for granted process when it comes to grading and evaluating.  Grading students or grading anyone else for that matter is an activity that profs should be ethically invested in.  But in the real world of academia such work, such investment, is almost always held to have little value.  In the academic hiring process, teachers are hired, scholars are hired, writers are hired, researchers are hired but no one is hired because they are accomplished graders!

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If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor.
© Copyright 2007

September 24, 2007 Posted by | attractive students, consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, grading, higher education, recusal, sexual politics, student professor dating | 1 Comment

Attractive Students and Attracted Professors

In 2005 Michal Gee an instuctor at Boston University posted on a blog his sexual ideation/fantasies concerning a current female student  who he felt to be extraordinarily beautiful/attractive. As a result of this posting he was terminated by Boston University.  Said posting was removed from the blog but was republished in another blog which went into some detail concerning the firing of Michael Gee.  Eventually the Washington Post reported on this story- “Don’t Blog So Close to Me” by Robert McMillan, July 15, 2005; excerpts follow-

“Gee, a 17-year-veteran of the Boston Herald who left the paper in the spring, was fired this month from a part-time journalism school position at Boston University after sharing inappropriate thoughts about a student on a blog.

“‘Of my six students, one (the smartest, wouldn’t you know it?) is incredibly hot,'” Gee wrote, according to the Associated Press reported . “Gee was fired July 13, according to Bob Zelnick, chairman of BU’s journalism department. Zelnick said the posting violated the trust essential to the student-teacher relationship. Students ‘have to be confident their work will judged impartially’ and not on the basis of their looks, he said.”

Gee posted his comments on July 5th on the sportsjournalists.com blog. The blog’s administrators later removed Gee’s posting. But just because his words are gone doesn’t mean they haven’t been preserved elsewhere… like right here in this column, and over at Boston Sports Media, where blogger David Scott posted them on July 15 so the rest of us could wonder at them: “Gee, Gone. Again“: “Today was my first day teaching course 308/722 at the Boston University Dept. of Jounralis (sic). There are six students, most of whom are probably smarter than me, but they DON’T READ THE PAPER!!! Not the Globe, Times, Herald or Wall Street Journal. I can shame them into reading, I guess, but why are they taking the course if they don’t like to read. But I digress. Now here’s the nub of my issue. Of my six students, one (the smartest, wouldn’t you know it?) is incredibly hot. If you’ve ever been to Israel, she’s got the sloe eyes and bitchin’ bod of the true Sabra. It was all I could do to remember the other five students. I sense danger, Will Robinson.

Gee’s senses were right on. If only he had heeded them.

Scott asked BU about Gee’s remarks on July 12th before writing about them. Here’s his commentary: “What on earth was Gee thinking, when he made these inappropriate comments? Further, what editor would hire a guy who publicly admits to drooling over his student? Even more perplexing was Gee’s response after at least one SJ poster gave this friendly advice: ‘Congrats on the gig and the proximity to a hottie, but be careful. Not with her, but with this site. She or your bosses could Google your name and the university at any point and find this thread. ‘ Even that lucid warning didn’t seem to have an effect on Gee’s libido or his proud postings: ‘Dear Folks: I suppose I should be flattered that many of you think this gorgeous woman who’s half my age would consider having sex with me. Which, if I have any news instincts, she won’t. My problem is losing my focus when I meet her to-die-for eyes.‘”

Holy mackerel! That’s some hot journalism action! And boy, does it spread. Gee’s burying the lede instead kicked it into high gear in the blogosphere.

He can probably forget freelance opportunities at Ms. magazine where the comments on his actions are less than complimentary“.

The Dankprofessor continues-

 Of course, being attracted to ones students is nothing new, publishing them on the web as a blog posting is new!  However, blog posting continues as evidenced by a very recent posting in which the posters are not identifiable.  One such posting follows-

 I once had a VERY pretty woman in one of my classes in LaLaLand (where hotness is de rigeur), and though she wasn’t quite on the level of NFL cheerleader distraction (she was fairly professional in dress and not super-ornamented or made up), she was pretty incredibly lovely. She had a Halle-Berry-without-makeup beauty. And on top of all that, she had…how shall I say this?…a *perfect* rack. And the fit of her clothes emphasized this in a tasteful but nevertheless attention-drawing way.Anyway, I say all of this to demonstrate that I, too, was distracted by her hotness and the perfection of her secondary sexual characteristics. And *that* finally convinced me that “the gaze” is indeed male and that I’ve learned to look at all women, including myself, through that gaze. I thought I had escaped it and reinvented it, but this woman made me realize how much I was kidding myself.

The dankprofessor believes that professors finding themselves attracted to some of their  students is commonplace, attractions which are experienced by both male and female professors, feminist and non-feminist professors.  But what is not commonplace is writing about it; talking about it with selected colleagues is probably more frequent; such was my experience.  What I hold to be universal in academia is a universal formal exclusion of this topic; nothing in the faculty handbook; no formal workshops dealing with the subject.  No guidelines of any sort of how not to be distracted by attractive students; how to avoid differential treatment of attractive students, e.g., how to avoid giving higher grades to attractive students.  Such, of course, is not out of the realm of the possible since social psychological research  has demonstrated over and over again in a multitude of contexts that the beautiful people are treated more favorably than the non-beautiful.  How to avoid such differential treatment in academia?  Might the ethical professor and at the same time the very attracted professor recuse himself from grading to avoid  biased grading?  After all such is what is often mandated for the prof who is dating a student to avoid prejudicial grading, to avoid differential grading based on what is ones psychosexual involvement with a student.  Of course, as I have previously pointed out recusing oneself from grading a student based on an ongoing dating relationship is in itself a form of differential treatment.  And as I think we can agree the ethically engaged prof who refuses to grade students who he or she finds attractive would not be seen as acting from some high ethical ground but rather from some base exhibitionistic level, a level that would be seen as leading to exclusion from the classroom.  So what is an ethical prof to do??

Addendum-

Well, I didn’t get it quite right in this blog on attractive students and attracted professors. I cited a blog in which profs write about having attractive students; I indicated that the profs were not identifiable, such was not the case.  I went back to that blog and clicked the online identity and at least for some of the entries, this led me to their real world identity.  And the quote I had given  in my posting was that of a female prof, not a male prof.

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If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor.
© Copyright 2007

September 22, 2007 Posted by | attractive students, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, ivory tower romance, recusal, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

   

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