Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

College sexual code enforcer charged with distributing child pornography

At times the dankprofessor has speculated about the mentality of campus administrators who apply campus policies which ban student professor consensual sexual relationships.  Might such persons be conflicted about their  invasion of the private lives of consenting adults?  Or do these persons tend to be moral zealots who gain some sort of gratification by abusing less powerful others? Whatever the dynamic may be, no one, other than myself, seems to be interested in the enforcers of the university sexual codes.

But there may now be a change as a result of developments at a Canadian college, Lethbridge College.  I have previously blogged on Lethbridge concerning the situation of psychology professor Gregory Bird who was suspended by Lethbridge for engaging in consensual sexual relationships with students.  Professor Bird successfully fought the suspension and was reinstated after he successfully argued that Lethbridge did not have any rules which bar student prof fraternization.  Of course, the Lethbridge administration did not like this arbitration imposed reinstatement.

Rick Buis, the college’s vice-president of corporate and international relations, said on Thursday the arbitrators were correct in finding the college had no specific policy prohibiting student/teacher relationships.

But he said psychology instructor Greg Bird should have known better.

“We don’t have policies stating ‘Thou shalt not steal’ or ‘Thou shalt not fight with fellow employees in the cafeteria,’ ” Buis said. “We think, ‘Thou shalt not sleep with students’ is equally obvious.”

But what Buis does not state as being obvious is that Lethbridge administrators shalt not distribute child pornography.  Now here is the news story about Lethridge’s sexual code enforcer.

A former vice-president of Lethbridge College is accused of possessing and sharing sexually explicit online movies involving pre-teen children while he was employed by the college. Richard Buis, 64, turned himself in to Lethbridge regional police Thursday morning before making a brief appearance in provincial court to answer to charges of possessing, accessing and distributing child pornography. He was charged this week following a three-month investigation by the province’s Integrated Child Exploitation (ICE) unit and Lethbridge regional police.
Police were tipped off this spring by a person “very close” to the accused who came across evidence and put themselves in some personal danger to report it to police, said Staff Sgt. Scott Chadsey, head of the regional police major crimes section.

Buis resigned April 9 from his position as the college’s vice-president of corporate and international services, citing personal reasons at the time. He had been working under contract since formally retiring from the college two years earlier after a 20-year career with the institution. His contract term was scheduled to end June 30.

Buis also resigned this past spring as president of the Lethbridge Exhibition board with about eight months remaining in his two-year term.
Police allege that between 2008-2010, the accused man downloaded and accessed video files at his home depicting children between the ages of seven and 12 engaged in sexual acts and that he made the files available to others.
“There were three laptops seized, all belonging to the accused,” said Const. Keon Woronuk, a local officer assigned to the province’s southern ICE unit.
“They were owned by the college, but they were seized from his home,” he said, adding police found no evidence any of the alleged offences took place on the college campus.
Forensic examination of the computers, he said, revealed evidence of online file sharing by downloading or making material available to others via the Internet.
Looking tired and haggard, Buis appeared in Lethbridge provincial court Thursday and stood briefly in the prisoner’s dock while Crown prosecutor Vaughan Hartigan outlined conditions of his release.
Buis was told he is not allowed use a computer or any electronic device capable of accessing the Internet, and he can’t visit any business, such as a cyber cafe, which provides customers with Internet access. The accused is also prohibited from having any contact with anyone under the age of 18 unless accompanied by an adult who knows of the charges, and he cannot go to swimming pools, playgrounds, parks or anywhere children under the age of 16 may congregate.
The release order also limits his options for employment. Buis can’t work anywhere or volunteer in any capacity in which he would be entrusted with a child under the age of 16. He must also submit to police searches without the necessity of a search warrant, report to local police as directed, keep the peace, and attend court as required.
In another matter, Buis was in court last month on a single charge of assault, but it was withdrawn after he agreed to comply with a peace bond, under which he must keep the peace, report regularly to a peace officer, and attend counselling for issues of domestic violence.
Buis’ next court appearance on the child pornography charges is scheduled for Aug. 12.
College President Tracy Edwards is away in Eastern Canada and wasn’t available for comment, but in an email sent to college faculty and staff Thursday morning, she described news of the charges against Buis as “disturbing and regrettable.”

Disturbing and regrettable, to say the least.  Unfortunately President Edwards was not disturbed at all when Prof Bird was suspended for consensual relationships with adult students. VP Buis was his primary agent for enforcing his moral sexual codes.  Of course, it comes down to the same old question- who will protect us from our so-called protectors?  And the bottom line at universities and beyond should be that consenting adults should not be subjected to any protectors of any kind; those who put themselves in the postion of their protectors are always engaging in a form of abuse.

July 12, 2010 Posted by | child pornography, consensual relationships, Lethbridge College, pornography, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, student professor dating | 1 Comment

Lethbridge professor to be reinstated

Congratulations to Psych Prof Gregory Bird for winning his legal challenge against Lethbridge College.  A Canadian court judge has ordered that Bird to be reinstated as a psych prof at Lethbridge.  Lethbridge had suspended Bird on the grounds that he had sex with three female students.  No harassment charges had been filed against Bird, and Lethbridge College had no policy banning student prof sexual relationships.   Based on my knowledge of the situation, the relationships were consensual and two of the relationships were established prior to the women becoming students at Lethbridge.   Prior to the Court decision, an arbitration board had ruled that Lethbridge must reinstate Bird.  The Court ruling in effect affirmed the arbitration board’s decision.
 
Rick Buis, vice-president of corporate and international services for the college, stated “We’re disappointed it didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but obviously we have to comply with the justice’s decision.”
 
However, the court’s and the arbitration board’s decisions put constraints on Bird’s affairs.  His return is conditional on him not having sex with any student of the college.
 
But Lethbridge is apparently committed to implementing the court decision while at the same time undermining it since the college does not see his reinstatement as necessarily including a teaching component. According to Buis, “Our requirement is to assign a workload that is appropriate for a faculty member, that can include teaching, research, curriculum development and distance education.”

So Lethbridge is apparently going to implement their version of sexual morality by barring him from  classroom teaching.  So they are reinstating a teacher but at the same time may not allow him to teach.  If Lethbridge bars Bird from teaching, it becomes incumbent upon Lethbridge to indicate that the reason for barring him from teaching is based on something more than the application of their sexual moral judgments.

In the Canadian press story, the writer goes beyond Lethbridge to understand the basis of barring him from the classroom by interviewing a sexual harassment adviser for the University of Calgary, Voyna Wilson.  Choosing to interview Wilson seems to the dankprofessor to be a poor choice since Wilson’s area is sexual harassment, not consensual relationships.  My speculation is that they interviewed Wilson since she gives the same old puritanical feminist cant as she told the press that the imbalance of power between student and professor entering a relationship can lead to disastrous results. Of course, such relationships may also lead to good results.  In the Lethbridge case, there were no disastrous results for students but the results were disastrous for the anti-sexual zealots at Lethbridge.

Voyna Wilson then went on to state that faculty members are also risking permanent damage to their reputation by such behavior.

I suggest to Ms. Wilson that she not worry about the the reputation of faculty members such as Bird.   Wilson apparently sees herself as a sort of mother figure, albeit an authoritarian mother figure, who should warn faculty about the reputational effects of their behavior. Then Voyna Wilson warned all faculty to steer clear of sexual relations with students.

Clearly Voyna Wilson unabashedly embraces an authoritarian agenda as she attempts to put her faculty (children) in their place.  But there are still some faculty who believe that as adults they have autonomy, specifically sexual autonomy, and that they will resist authoritarian policies which attempt to recreate them as children.

In addition, when you have university administrators warning faculty about their sexual behavior, obviously, in Wilson’s terms, this also represents an imbalance of power.  But she is not concerned with this imbalance since she is the one on top with the power to engage in institutionally legitimatized abuse.  It is persons of the genre of Voyna Wilson that faculty should be warned about and to speak out against their abuses of power.

 —–
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

 

June 13, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, higher education, Lethbridge College, litigation, sex, sexual harassment, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, University of Calgary | Leave a comment

Gregory Bird and Lethbridge College

In a previous posting, I reported that Gregory Bird, a psychology professor at Lethbridge College who had been fired by Lethbridge for having consensual relationships with three Lethbridge students had been ordered to be reinstated by a Lethbridge arbitration board.

Although the term arbitration implies a final judgment, such is not necessarily the case.  Many universities and corporations involved in an arbitration proceeding and facing a judgment they do not like, appeal to the civil courts arguing that the arbitrator violated the rules of the arbitration.  And this is exactly what the Lethbridge administration did- they appealed.

As reported by the Lethbridge Herald,

A judge’s decision was reserved Monday, more than 26 months after a Lethbridge College instructor was fired for having sex with his students.

Justice C.S. Phillips gave no indication of when her decision would be handed down, after hearing arguments from two Calgary lawyers over the college’s termination of psychology teacher Greg Bird. Earlier this year an arbitration board ordered him reinstated by May 1, but college officials went to Court of Queen’s Bench to appeal that ruling.

While Bird admitted to his actions, the instructors’ lawyer told the judge, the college’s response was too severe. College officials maintain their action was proper because he’d violated a professional code of ethics.  Lawyer Bill Armstrong, acting for the college, said the provincially appointed arbitration panel’s decision was inconsistent with the facts it cited in reaching a verdict. He also held the college’s lack of a specific policy on personal conduct between students and teachers should not be sufficient to warrant reinstatement.

…William Johnson, representing the college faculty association, cited cases from other colleges and universities across Canada to show firing was too strong a punishment. A hot-tub party involving students and a faculty member at an Okanagan Valley college provides the most recent case law, he said.

In the college’s collective agreement with its faculty, he said it’s stated disciplinary actions would be “reasonable” under the circumstances. When he was hired more than a decade ago, Johnson said the dean of student services advised Bird and other new faculty there was no policy but they should “be discrete” about their interactions with students.

After two years and two months away from the classroom, he held, Bird has faced enough punishment.
Both lawyers submitted extensive written arguments as well.
“There’s a lot to go through here,” the Calgary judge said, reserving her decision. Court officials say issues like this, heard in Calgary chambers, could be resolved in less than a month or take as long as one year.

Of course, the Lethbridge administration may be hoping that the judge takes one year or more to reach a decision.  Such may represent a strategy to simply wear down Bird so that he would voluntarily withdraw from the university in the context of a minimal financial settlement.

It is the dankprofessor’s hope that Bird cannot be forced out.  I agree with Bird’s lawyer that firing is an excessive punishment for engaging in consensual relationships with students.  I would also agree in the context of this case that Bird’s punishment has already been excessive.  And, of course, based on the dankprofessor’s personal perspective, Bird should not have been punished at all.  Any punishment in this case is too much punishment.  Consensual relationships are simply not the business of persons other than the persons involved in the relationships.

In response to my prior posting on this case, I received personal communications from students of Bird praising him as a great teacher and lamenting the actions taken against him by   Lethbridge College.  If Gregory Bird should read this post, I encourage him to contact me; I would value the opportunity to personally communciate with him.

—–
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
 
 

May 3, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, Lethbridge College, litigation, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | 2 Comments

Arbitration Board Reinstates Bird

The Canadian Press reported today that an arbitration board has ordered the reinstatement of Gregory Bird, a psychology teacher and general studies program leader at Lethbridge College in the province of Alberta.

Mr. Bird admitted to having sex with three female students and an internal investigation held by the college found him guilty of “inappropriate relationships with students” and dismissed him from the college. The arbitration board consisted of an arbitrator, two college representatives and a faculty association representative; they ordered that Bird be reinstated by May 1.

The Canadian Press also reported that all three students were consenting adults, none of the students claimed to have received preferential treatment from the professor. The professor testified that two of the women he had known prior to their becoming Lethbridge students and two of the women took classes from him while he was dating them. Investigation of the professor was initiated by a complaint from a former student. It was unclear whether the complaining student was one of the three involved students. The complaint led to an investigation and Bird’s firing.

Mr. Bird argued that he could not be fired because the college did not have a rule banning student professor intimacies.  The Board ruled that “Employees should not lose their jobs for breaking unwritten rules in areas where the line between right and wrong can be ambiguous. ” The college argued that Bird’s actions were a violation of the college’s sexual harassment policy. As for the college lacking a policy on consensual dating, Lethbridge College Vice President stated:
“Why would you write a policy that presupposes faculty might sleep with students?”

The college has yet to make a determination as to whether to appeal the arbitrator’s decision. Arbitrator’s decisions can be appealed on the grounds that the arbitrator violated the terms of the arbitration. Appealing the arbitration even if ultimately unsuccessful can significantly delay the return of the professor to the classroom.

The Canadian Press reported: “If Mr. Bird does return in May, he will do so without back pay and will be subject to conditions set out by the arbitrator. They include not being allowed to date or have sex with any student at the college and having to inform his supervisor if he dates a former student who has been out of the college for less than a year. He must also notify the college if one of his future students is someone with whom he has had a close relationship.”

Presently, Lethbridge College is developing a policy on student professor relationships.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

January 19, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, Lethbridge College, litigation, sexual policing, sexual rights, student professor dating | 2 Comments

   

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