Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Iowa State and student prof sexual relationships

The Smith Report has a pretty good post on student professor sexual relationships with a focus on Iowa State. The article gets the dankprofessor’s seal of approval and this is the first  news from Iowa I have had on this subject which was not University of Iowa based; so there is life in Iowa beyond Iowa City.

April 1, 2011 Posted by | higher education, Iowa State University, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

BYU Violates Honor Code Violator

The only thing Elizabeth Esther gets right in her article, “BYU, It’s Not About Sex It’s About Honor“, occurs when she states “I’m just not a fan of prolonged punishment and public humiliation”.

BYU basketball player Brandon Davies goes to the BYU authorities and tells them in private of his violation of the honor code. Then BYU morally violates him by putting him thru a public degradation ceremony. Such also impacts on his teammates ability to function as a cohesive winning unit.

Why couldn’t BYU wait until the end of the semester to punish Davies? Why did they need to go public? What is not stated in the article is that not only was Davies immediately suspended as a basketball player, but also suspended as a student. The BYU mentality reflects a mob rule mentality. It reflects a mentality of immediate gratification.

BYU acted in a dishonorable manner in the way they treated Brandon Davies who as a student has now learned how a so-called religion treats young adherents who may have strayed from their moral code.

What BYU did to Davies has nothing to do with religious values but rather the values associated with authoritarianism.

March 14, 2011 Posted by | Brigham Young University, ethics, higher education, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The ickiness factor and beyond at Northwestern U

The sex toy publicly induced orgasm at Northwestern University seems to be getting even more bizarre.

Initially, the Northwestern administration issued a statement indicating there was no problem with the classroom demonstration.   Then the President of NW states he is disturbed by the event and orders an investigation.

The professor J. Michael Bailey initially indicated that there was no reason to apologize and then issues an apology but states there is no reason for said apology.

Professor Bailey stated the following-

“Those who believe that there was, in fact, a serious problem have had considerable opportunity to explain why: in their numerous media stories on the controversy, or in their various correspondences with me…But they have failed to do so. Saying that the demonstration ‘crossed the line,’ ‘went too far,’ ‘was inappropriate’ or was ‘troubling’ convey disapproval but do not illuminate reasoning.

If I were grading the arguments against what occurred, most would earn an ‘F.’

Yes, but maybe the University’s investigation will find out what the basis of the disapproval may be; may find out why the President of the University was so disturbed.

Clearly, the University seems to be oblivious to the Supreme Court decision last week regarding the usage of hateful and degrading rhetoric at military funerals by members of the so-called Westboro Church. In that decision, Chief Justice Roberts stated: “Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears, of both joy and sorrow- as it did here- inflict great pain.  We cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.”

The dankprofessor accepts the notion that the post classroom orgasm demonstration falls under the mantle of  the Supreme Court’s protected speech.  The orgasm demonstration does not come close to promulgating anything relating to hate and degradation.  And those in attendance at the demonstration were their by their own freedom of choice; they were not forced to endure anything like those who were subject to the rantings of the Westboro cadre.

And as Professor Bailey states those demanding some type of redress never state what was the nature of the problem other than embracing the notion that it was in bad taste.

And the dankprofessor asks is bad taste an adequate reason for banning and/or investigating anything at a university that embraces a liberal arts education?  Certainly a discussion and examination of what constitutes bad taste may be of some educational value.  But basing action on the belief that something represents bad taste should be given no consideration.

Or putting it in other terms, the “icky” factor may be a reality.  But ickiness should not be the basis for a President of any university issuing formal statements and calling for an investigation.

But then again, some student could yell sexual harassment, could feel that a hostile learning environment was created, could feel that one did not engage in informed consent as to what was to occur.  Such would trump issues of freedom of speech, issues of taste. Such could very well occur given the nature of  the modern university in contemporary America.

March 6, 2011 Posted by | higher education, Northwestern University, sex, sex toys, speech | Leave a comment

Troubled Northwestern president orders sex investigation

In response to the public usage on Northwestern University campus of a sex toy which induced an orgasm by a prone female,  the President of Northwestern issued a statement indicating he was “troubled and disappointed” by what happened after the sexuality class of Professor Bailey. He said the professor used poor judgement and ordered an investigation of the incident.

What troubles the dankprofessor is exactly what will be investigated.  The consensual nature of the act as well as the consensual presence of the students are not in dispute.

Maybe the President is projecting his troubled feeling on to others and wishing to determine if others have been similarly troubled and disappointed.  On the other hand university presidents are almost always troubled; they are paid to deal with troubles and disappointments.  And to date the President is the only person who has publicly confessed to being troubled.

There must be more.  Maybe, just maybe, the sex toy is being fraudulently advertised.  Maybe the so-called sex toy induced orgasm was faked by the woman.  Whether the woman really had an orgasm might merit an investigation.

Investigating whether the orgasm was real shouldn’t be difficult since Faith Kroll who was the subject of the orgasm stated she had no shame and would be happy to do it again.  Of course, she could end up faking it again, if such be the case.  What we need is a scientific controlled study with experts independently evaluating the alleged orgasm.  And the experts would have to be screened to insure that the observers would not be troubled and disappointed.

Bottom line for the dankprofessor is that Faith Kroll says she is satisfied. Now if some people are troubled by her satisfaction, such should simply be their problem and outside of the purview of university presidents who all too often can’t get no satisfaction.

March 4, 2011 Posted by | higher education, Northwestern University, orgasm, sex, sex toys | Leave a comment

No controversy at Northwestern over live sex demonstration

And why should there be controversy.  The demonstration occurred after class, it was optional and apparently involved only consenting adults.  And the dankprofessor finds it to be a breath of fresh air when the professor stated he had no regrets, after all he stated his students are open minded adults rather than fragile children.  Let us hope that the student as child obsessed are able to control their obsessive thinking, unlikely but not impossible.  Following is the text of the article-

Northwestern University defends after-class live sex demonstration

BY KARA SPAK 

Staff Reporter/kspak@suntimes.com

Last Modified: Mar 3, 2011 11:11AM

More than 100 Northwestern University students watched as a naked 25-year-old woman was penetrated by a sex toy wielded by her fiancee during an after-class session of the school’s popular “Human Sexuality” class.

The woman said she showed up at the Feb. 21 lecture in the Ryan Family Auditorium in Evanston expecting just to answer questions, but was game to demonstrate. The course’s professor on Wednesday acknowledged some initial hesitation, but said student feedback was “uniformly positive.”

And Northwestern defended the class and its professor.

“Northwestern University faculty members engage in teaching and research on a wide variety of topics, some of them controversial and at the leading edge of their respective disciplines,” said Alan K. Cubbage, vice president for University Relations. “The University supports the efforts of its faculty to further the advancement of knowledge.”

The optional, non-credit demo followed psychology Prof. John Michael Bailey’s sexuality class. Nearly 600 students are in Bailey’s class this quarter, and most didn’t stick around for the after-class show, which featured four members of Chicago’s fetish community describing “BDSM,” or bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism.

“I didn’t expect to see a live sex show,” said Justin Smith, 21, a senior economics and political science major who was in the after-class session. “We were told we were going to have some people talk to us about the fetish world and kink.”

Smith said it took him awhile to process what happened, but he doesn’t object to the way the material was presented.

“It was for me academic like everything else,” he said.

He told his grandparents about the class.

“My grandma was like, wow, Northwestern is a little bit different then when I went there,” he said.

In a statement, Bailey said he hesitated briefly before allowing the public sex act.

“My hesitation concerned the likelihood that many people would find this inappropriate,” he wrote. “My decision to say ‘yes’ reflected my inability to come up with a legitimate reason why students should not be able to watch such a demonstration.”

After the demonstration, several students tried a different sex toy that gave a “titillating” but not painful shock, testing it out on their arms, said Ken Melvoin-Berg, who narrated the after-class lecture. Melvoin-Berg said the school paid him between $300 to $500 for his appearance.

Faith Kroll, the woman who stripped, was laying down on a towel when she was penetrated. When she arrived, she thought she just would be answering students’ questions and showing off sex toys they brought, including whips, paddles and a clown wig.

An “absurd, clinical” video and subsequent discussion about various aspects of female orgasm led Faith and her partner Jim Marcus, 45, to prove to the class that female orgasm is real.

Faith said she was not coerced in any way and students were repeatedly warned it was going to get graphic.

“One of the students asked what my specific fetish was and mine is being in front of people, having the attention and being used,” she said. “The students seemed really intrigued.”

In his statement, Bailey said student feedback was “uniformly positive.”

Marcus, a musician who said he has worked as a sex educator, said he thinks it is “smart and important” for students to be learn about sexuality.

“It’s really scary for young people who want to get involved in the BDSM community who don’t understand issues regarding consent and safety,” he said.

Melvoin-Berg said he met Prof. Bailey through a swinging couple who previously spoke to the class. Melvoin-Berg runs the “Weird Chicago Red Light District Sex Tour,” which has participants playing games like “spot the ho” as they travel the city looking for prostitutes. He also teaches “Networking for Kinky People,” a 3-hour version of the one hour lecture he gave at Northwestern.

Melvoin-Berg said the sex toy used was BDSM, but was “not like a pain thing…we wanted to make it poignant.”

“I did mention this was going to be the best money their parents had spent on their education,” he said.

Bill Yarber, a researcher at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction and author of the textbook Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America, said he’s never heard of a naked woman being brought to orgasm in front of a class of students.

“The way you present it there is very unconventional,” he said. “There’s certain boundaries of things, I think, that are acceptable and that would certainly be pushing that.”

This isn’t Bailey’s first brush with controversy. His 2003 book, “The Man Who Would Be Queen,” sparked hostile debate in the transgender community by claiming that there were more reasons for men to become women then simply that biology trapped them in the wrong body. Several transgender women who spoke with Bailey claimed they did not consent to being used for research and accused him of practicing psychology without a license.

Bailey said in his statement Wednesday that during the Feb. 21 after-class lecture, “I was not in a mood to surrender to sex negativity and fear.”

“Do I have any regrets?” he wrote on Wednesday. “It is mostly too early to say. I certainly have no regrets concerning Northwestern students, who have demonstrated that they are open-minded grown ups rather than fragile children.”

March 3, 2011 Posted by | exhibitionism, higher education, Northwestern University, public sex, sex | Leave a comment

Universities need a Julian Assange

SEX MATTERS has a powerful post in part on how the holding of Assange in the UK is part of using sex and the protection of women as a convenient strategy to attempt to neutralize men such as Assange.  SEX MATTERS – puts it this way-

Who after all can object to steps being taken to “protect” women? Well, hopefully, women.

Because time and time again, when politicians talk about women in this way, the last thing on their mind is protection. Rather, it is in their interests to co-opt women to otherwise dubious causes and to shelter behind the excuse of “looking after” the “weaker” sex.

Its pretty revolting. But absolutely to be expected.

Yes, it is pretty revolting that the Swedes probably at the beckoning of the US are attempting to hold Assange in detention to protect Swedish women.  It is also sad that the UK goes along with this mythology by holding Assange under house arrest after holding him in prison for so-called Swedish justice for one week.   If the Swedes are intent on questioning Assange who has not been charged with any criminal offense, then let them come to London to question him.  Such should not be a problem.  Certainly less of a moral problem than forcing Assange to raise $300,000 so he could be put under house arrest.

Arguing that Assange should be under any form of arrest so that Swedish women could obtain justice is analogous to arguing that Bill Clinton was impeached by the Republican House so that justice for Lewinsky could be obtained, even if she really didn’t want justice.

This whole Swedish scenario is similar to what occurs on too many American university campuses.   After all, who could possibly object to protecting women college students from falling into consensual sexual relationships with professors.  Of course, said women could object.  But no matter for the powers that be, these women, no matter what their age, need to be protected from these so-called predatory professors.  And, of course, no matter that the student may have been the one who was “predatory.”

What would be good for justice at universities is for university police aka administrators to have their veils of secrecy discarded.  No more- that this is a confidential personnel matter.  University diplomacy needs to be fully exposed.

December 17, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, higher education, Julian Assange, secrecy, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating, Sweden, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Hugh Hefner, William Buckley and Roger Ebert

“Hugh Hefner has been good for us’” is the title of a recent article by Roger Ebert on Hugh Hefner.  Obviously, Ebert likes Hefner; he considers Hefner’s Playboy Philosophy to be a major contributing force to sexual liberation in the 60s.  Anchoring Ebert’s analysis is a series of videos on which Hefner is interviewed.  Unquestionably, the most valuable of these videos is from William Buckley’s FIRING LINE  in which Buckley interrogates Hefner on just about all aspects of Hefner’s philosophy.  The kind of interchanges dealing with sexuality between Buckley and Hefner has been a rarity on American television.  Buckley does his best to defend the traditional view that pre-marital sexuality is immoral and unacceptable and that Hefner is in essence perverting/undermining the dominant and only acceptable sexual ethos in America.

From the dankprofessor’s perspective the series of  the five video segments of the Buckley/Hefner interchange provides the viewer with the anti-sexuality background of  our contemporary ethos.  Of course, in the 60s the acceptability of student prof sexual relationships was nil; they were effectively closeted in the context of their being no discussion of the matter and no bureaucratic apparatus designed to repress such relationships and to persecute those who were party to these relationships.  Now that has all changed.  The very survival of universities has been held to be at risk if such relationships flourish; such was similar to the fear that homosexuality if not criminalized would function to destroy society.  Such was also similar to the dynamic of fear that led to the passage of the Mann Act in the United States and the hysteria to save our young women from pre-marital sex and being seduced into prostitution.

Ebert puts the contribution of  Hefner and Playboy in therse terms:

Hefner and Playboy have been around so long that not everyone remembers what America used to be like. It was sexually repressed and socially restrictive. College students were expelled for having sex out of wedlock. Homosexuality and miscegenation were illegal. Freedom of choice was denied. McCarthyism still cast a pall over the freedom of speech. Many people joined in the fight against that unhealthy society. Hefner was one of them, and a case can can be made that Playboy had a greater influence on our society in its first half-century than any other magazine.

Take the time and view the the Buckley/Hefner interchange.  The dankprofessor guarantees you won’t regret doing so.

November 2, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, Hugh Hefner, Roger Ebert, sex, sexual politics, William Buckley | 2 Comments

Lawyers/clients and students/profs similarities?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Schwyzer/Dank interchange

Hugo Schwyzer and myself  have had an interesting interchange on his last posting.   I want to share with my readers one of our last interchanges(I expect there will be more) since this interchange really gets down to some basic issues.   I also would like to note that Professor Schwyzer is one of the very few academics who engages this issue in an open and dispassionate manner.   Bravo to him!

SCHWYZER writes-

As my regular readers know, Barry, I’ve written a bit about student attraction to professors. (I have an archive called student crushes, and I stand by that term, though I know your problems with it.) Many of the women with whom I had unethical, albeit “consensual” professor-student relationships made their attraction very clear to me. I took advantage of that attraction, but that doesn’t render me any less culpable. Lots of folks get mad crushes on their therapists, but we know what that is, and have a good term for it: transference. And you know what, Barry? I haven’t been at this gig as long as you, but I have been teaching for nearly twenty years and have taught well over 10,000 studnets — and I am convinced to my core that most of the attraction to me was basic transference. It wasn’t about me, it was about where that young student was in her process. What got me voted America’s hottest professor in 2008 was less about my looks (I’m not hideous, but I’m no model) but a teaching style that struck a chord with certain students. That some of them sexualized or romanticized that chord was a normal part of their developmental process. It was not an invitation to fuck them.

As I wrote a long time ago:

we don’t just get crushes on people whom we want, we get crushes on people whom we want to be like! Students don’t get crushes on me because they want to go to bed with me or be my girlfriend or boyfriend; they get crushes on me because I’ve got a quality that they want to bring out in themselves. They’re externalizing all of their hopes for themselves. And rather than encourage the crush to feed my ego, my job is to turn the focus back on to the student, encouraging him or her to take their new-found curiosity or enthusiasm or passion and use it, run with it, indulge it, let it take them places!

DANK responds-

I have no reason to doubt the honesty of your analysis of the transference process as to how it applied to some of your students and how it may have facilitated a sexual relationship with some of your students. Of course, as you point out apparently all of your students were young and such should not be surprising since you teach at a two year college which predominantly attracts young students. However, the problem becomes applying this to students and professors in general. You very well know that the genre of policies you advocate apply to middle age graduate students as well as to young professors. I am sure you know that “your” policies apply to student teaching assistants who may end up dating students where there is hardly any age difference. And, in my case, my wife who I met when she was a student has always been two years older than myself. I resent the implication that we should have been barred from dating because of some transference process or because someone may feel offended by such a relationships. Your insistence of using the term “crush” strongly implies that you do not take any of these relationships seriously. Can’t you accept the fact some student prof couples experience “authentic” love, not just a passing crush? Can’t you accept the possibility that some marry and have children and some of these children may end up in your classes as you lecture on how the student was a product of a crush, etc. etc. Do you ever give consideration to said possibility? Have you ever considered the possibility that I myself MAY have been the offspring of a student professor couple.

If your analysis has relevance to some student and professor couples and I believe it does, it also has relevance to non-student and non-professor relationships, to many people from various walks of life.
The social psychological dynamics leading to coupled relationships are a varicolored thing, but whatever the dynamic such does not justify the banning of psychologically “unacceptable” relationships.
At least it does not justify it in a free society, in a totalitarian society, yes; in a Big Brother society yes, but not here. Unfortunately, many of our values relating to freedom and civil liberties have historically been thrown out of the window in regards to sex because our society has been saturated with anti-sexual perspectives. It is hard to get beyond said perspectives. Supporting anti-sexual values has been the ability to control and coerce others who may give sexual offense. My problem with you, Hugo, is not your willingness to engage people on vital educational and sexual issues, but your willingness to coerce others who deviate from your or societal sexual norms. Sexually consenting adult couples should never be coerced or persecuted or prosecuted

October 1, 2010 Posted by | sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Hugo Schwyzer and the sin of coercion

OK, I will begin my reply post to Hugo Schwyzer’s response to me by picking a bone with him as to how he presents me. He indicates that at Cal State Long Beach I had built a name for myself “as a consistent (some would say relentless) advocate for legitimizing sexual relationships between teachers and students”.  If the good professor had done his homework on me, he would have known that I built a name for myself in the area of legitimizing sexual relationships starting in the late 1960s when I relentlessly opposed discrimination against gays, wrote “Coming Out in the Gay World” which came to be regarded as a classic article in the sociology of homosexuality, created the first officially recognized undergraduate course on homosexuality in 1969, and worked to help create the first officially recognized GSU in California at CSULB and last but not least I wrote an article against Anita Bryant and her campaign against homosexuality which was reprinted throughout the United States and helped to defeat the Briggs initiative in 1977, and led to numerous threats against my life, see that article by clicking here.  Post my involvement in the gay rights campaign, I became involved in issues regarding interracial dating and marriage and helped to found the Interrace Association at CSULB.

So prior to my getting involved in the student professor issue I had an extensive background regarding transcending sexual boundaries, standing up for sexual freedom and consent.  In this area I was relentless and remain relentless.  Such relentlessness was not stifled by the small mindedness of too many of my opponents and their attempts to objectify and demonize me. For example, Schwyzer states that I celebrate student professor sexual relationships.  I do not celebrate any form of consensual sexuality.  What I celebrate is the right of consenting adults to engage in sexual fraternization no matter how offensive such fraternization is held to be by others.  What offends me are those who engage in coercion of consenting others who happen to violate their sexual “ethic”.

And as for Schwyzer not being able to see the similarities in the dynamics of those opposing interracial relationships and those opposing student professor relationships, I suggest that he is suffering from a form of cultural blindness.  I suggest that he read Lillian Smith’s book KILLERS OF THE DREAM and then he may understand the southern “ethic” that embraced the notion that a white woman/black man relationship can never be consensual, such always precluded consent, that such always represented rape, and that white men were protective of “their” white women who could not consent for themselves and were in essence children or childlike. Of course, any dissident black man faced a sentence of death via hanging and/or burning for the sin of loving the wrong person.  Of course, today’s sexual dissidents who engage in academia’s love that dare not speak its name do not face being physically killed but rather being socially and psychologically exiled from academia since they have violated the sacred principle of “differential power precludes consent”.  Safer for them to remain in the closet which has historically been the home of the sexually persecuted or those in support of the sexually persecuted.

In response to me, Schwyzer states-

I’m not incapable of drawing distinctions between behavior which is criminal and behavior which is merely unethical. But I also think that folks like Dank fail to recognize three things:

1. College students in their late teens and early twenties are still developing intellectually and emotionally, as this New York Times Magazine article made clear recently. Many young people are in a space between, as the old saying goes, “the Already and the Not Yet.” They are already legal adults and are in many ways fully responsible, but in other key ways continue to need more time to develop the complete capacity for impulse control and moral reasoning. As the Times article put it, the only ones who “got it right” about how long it takes young people to grow up are the car-rental companies, who often refuse to rent their vehicles to drivers under the age of twenty-five. While nineteen year-olds may be ready for sexual relationships with their peers, they are vulnerable to exploitation (whatever protestations may be made to the contrary) by those who are substantially older.

Schwyzer continues to focus on students as young people, apparently teens or just post teenager.  Such reflects Schwyzer’s hangups or possibly his complete immersion in the world of PCC.  To assume that university students are young and immature is absurd.

To assume that being young reflects immaturity is absurd.  To assume that being old reflects maturity is absurd.  To assume nothing and treat and respect the individuality of the other is not absurd. Such reflects in Buberian terms the willingness to employ an I-thou framework.  Schwyzer employs an I-it framework which makes coercing others so much easier.

Then comes his point 2-

2. The power imbalance between a professor and a student, regardless of the latter’s age, makes it impossible for the student to give consent as long as the professor is in a position to evaluate (or recommend) him or her. You can’t trust a “yes” unless the person who says the “yes” also feels free to say “no” in the confidence that there will be no deleterious consequences. And as long as a student is in any position to be evaluated professionally by their professor/lover, they can’t have that knowledge that a “no” will be safe. That’s not infantilizing; that’s common sense.

Here he states it really is not about age, but about power imbalance in general. He holds it axiomatic that students cannot give consent (such assumes of course that the student is not the initiator and the professor is the one consenting).  Such represents the end point of his argument- students cannot consent so we will not allow the student to be in such a position. What he fails to note is that now he and his chosen colleagues are now in the power position and they have taken away the ability to consent of both students and professors. Both students and professors must consent to the will of the all powerful bureaucrat.  Schwyzer and his confereres end up calling for what all authoritarians call for- OBEDIENCE, obedience to them.  And as for his comments about possible deleterious consequences, freedom always represents the possibility of deleterious consequences; lack of freedom always represents the reality of deleterious consequences.

And now to his third point-

3. The damage that professor-student sexual relationships do to the broader academic community is enormous. I’ve written that some of the students with whom I had sexual relationships remembered what we shared fondly; otherssuffered lasting negative consequences for which I take full responsibility and a profound sense of guilt. But leaving aside the essential question of the impact of these relationships on young women’s lives, I can say with certainty that these affairs are impossible to keep secret. Campus gossip made them widely known. Not only was I labeled a lecher, but the legitimacy of the entire college was in some sense compromised. I’ll never know how many young people grew a bit more cynical, a bit less trustful of the system, a bit more suspicious of older men as a result of my sadly well-deserved reputation in the mid-to-late 1990s on this campus.

Is Schwyzer referring to PCC here being damaged in some way by his relationships with young women?  I speculate that he is projecting his own sense of damage and guilt on to the wider academic community.  He is seeing his campus world thru his guilt tinged lenses.  He ends up dealing with his guilt by coercing others to be “better” than he was; he ends up being an authoritarian do-gooder.  And as for campus gossip, my advice to him is to just get beyond the rumor mongers; do what you consider to be right and don’t focus on the opinions of others.  And, of course, it will often be the case that no matter what one does, one can end up becoming rumor subject matter.

As for recommended pieces regarding this issue, he neglects the most powerful published essay written by then graduate student Cristina Nehring. You can find it on my blog, of course.  I can’t reprint the whole article, but I have reprinted enough to capture the essence of her argument, and do read the recent student comments on this posting.  Of course, you can read a couple of my pieces by clicking here and here as well as reading SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND CONSENT which I co-edited. Daphne Patai’s book although somewhat tangential gives a pretty good portrait of how campuses are becoming less free. And, of course, anything written by Dick Skeen, material based on his doctoral dissertation, should be required reading.

And I bemoan the loss of community on too many campuses.  The implementation of these fraternization rules make informal interaction between students and professors problematic.  Fear too often now structures student professor interaction; fear that there may be a sexual imputation.  Schwyzer never mentions this; never mentions that many campus regulations prohibit both sexual OR amorous relationships.  On a personal note, I became a professor already a part of academic life since I had married a professor’s daughter and took for granted the camaraderie, the informality that was a part of the community of learners, no matter what the age.  It’s basically gone now; replaced by an impersonal bureaucracy, paid bureaucrats making sure things are under control which de facto means keeping things in the closet.

I also want to make clear that I do not condemn or disrespect Schwyzer for his attempt to come to terms with his past sexuality.  His guilt feelings I do not doubt are real; his need for redemption is real. What I question that in his need for redemption or expiation he ends up advocating the coercing of others for engaging in consensual sex he disapproves of.  In the dankprofessor’s framework he commits the sin of coercion which represents his own unacknowledged arrogance.

September 30, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, Daphne Patai, ethics, fear, fraternization, gay rights, higher education, Pasadena City College, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | 25 Comments

Crushing student crushes

Hugo Schwyzer, a Pasadena City College professor, blogs on educational issues and at times on matters relating to student prof consenting sexual relationships.  He strongly disapproves of these relationships, and has expressed his strong disapproval of my writings on the subject.  He indicates in his last post and in his other posts on this subject that in the 1990s when he was single he engaged in a number of sexual relationships with students.  But now such relationships are in the past since presently he is married.  To a cynical  outsider, it may appear that Schwyzer engages in an ethic of convenience- when single it was OK for him to find partners who were students, but now that he is married he disapproves of such relationships.  Of course, such a cynical view also reflects a basic sociological tenet- ones attitudes change as a function of changes in ones social positions.

Schwyzer’s change in his attitudes and behavior in regards to student prof sex would have been of no importance to me except for the fact that he uses his past experience in part as a rationale for coercing students and professors in matters relating to their sexual behavior.  Schwyzer admits to having done the wrong thing when he slept with some of his students.

He feels guilt about the errors of his past ways.  Given his past wrongdoings, he wants to redeem himself.  He states:

“Part of my own redemptive work was to chair a committee to write a policy for Pasadena City College on consensual relationships, a policy that was not in place during the years in which I was conducting a series of these affairs.”

So in order for him to feel good about himself, he is willing to take away the rights of others to engage in mutual date/mate selection where the dyadic relationship is student/professor.

Or to make this matter more personal for me, he would have supported policies that would have barred my dating/mating with my wife to be in the 1990s.  Why? To relieve his sense of guilt.  To stop students from acting on their crushes for particular profs.  Crushes are his words.  Its always student crushes, never professor crushes; he sees profs as falling in love. Profs don’t have crushes since profs are not children.  For Schwyzer, students have crushes since students are de facto children.  They are not yet grownups who can experience a mature love.  Or translated- they have not yet graduated; once they graduate then they are adults. Reminds me of the old idea that a girl cannot become a woman, remains a girl or a child until she married.

Schwyzer states-

If we’re doing our job right, we have the power to change the way a student thinks about himself or herself. At our best, those of us who love to teach are practiced seducers, Casanovas of the classroom. But my agenda isn’t about sexual conquest, it’s about creating an interest and a passion where none previously existed. It’s about getting students to want something they didn’t know they wanted! Though some students may sexualize their crushes, what they really want is to continue to feel the way you make them feel: excited, energized, provoked, challenged.

The key is to remember that old mantra of youth workers everywhere: “affirm, and re-direct.” Though it is surely almost always best for a faculty member not to name out loud his or her responses to a student, it is the job of teachers to say to themselves: “These feelings I have are normal, and quite understandable, and not bad at all. But desire is not an irresistible predicate to action, and while I affirm that there may be ’something here’, I’m going to take the responsibility to re-direct all of that intoxicatiing intellectual/sexual energy on to the work itself.”

When a student has a crush on a teacher or mentor, it’s the job of that prof to “affirm and re-direct.” The affirmation doesn’t have to be as obvious as calling the student out on the crush, unless the student has already confessed it. The key is avoiding three “wrong” responses: shaming or belittling the student, withdrawing from one’s mentoring role, or engaging in amorous relations. Each of these responses represents a different sort of betrayal, and a sensible teacher ought to avoid them all…

Advise and redirect reminds me of the “advice” of the elders of bygone days- to go take a cold shower, to deal with your needs in a solitary manner.  Or going back a 100 years or so, children were coerced via having their hands forcibly tied at night.  Crushes were obliterated by crushing children and others who had sexual desires.  Oppression and repression were the traditional ways of dealing with those who deviated from sexual norms in an anti-sexual society.

And being anti-sexual is what Schwyer is ultimately “all about”.  He often dresses up his rhetoric in a garb of maturity, responsibility and self-control.  But his bottom line is the same as all the others who are at the core anti-sexual- coercion.

September 29, 2010 Posted by | corporate dating bans, ethics, higher education, Pasadena City College, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | 3 Comments

The God Of Normal and the university

Ken Mondschein in his blog posting, Queer in the Academy; how the tenure process stifles difference, gets it right as to the stultifying nature of contemporary academic life.

He states-

Academia embodies a paradox: We’re allegedly open to all sorts of new ideas, tolerant of differences, rabid about social justice, have made the embrace diversity all but mandatory, and are willing to discuss any sort of crazy theory. At the same time, we’re buttoned-up personalities in button-down shirts who are afraid to push the bounds of politically correct groupthink and who enforce bureaucratic school policies and an unwritten code of “professionalism” with tongues well-versed in euphemism. Both of these are, of course, stereotypes, but they’re stereotypes with roots in reality.

They are well rooted in reality; it is the reality I experienced for most of my 35 years as a prof.  I was fortunate to get tenure in 1976 before the conformity mindset had taken root.  No matter that I was a dissident professor before I received tenure said dissidence was of no relevance to my tenuring.  But by the 1990s all this had change, deviations of any sort, particularly of a sexual nature, were no longer tolerated.  The faculty mantra was to get Dank, to shut him up, but it was too late.  It didn’t matter that I was disliked by a number of my colleagues, I took academic freedom seriously and being liked or disliked was simply not germane to my academic life.

Mondschein continues-

Nowhere is this cognitive dissonance more manifest than in academics’ personal lives. We can study the rebels of history, but God forbid we try to épater le bourgeois ourselves. Those who wish to snatch the golden ring of tenure must self-censor every e-mail, hide behind pseudonyms on discussion boards, and make sure no incriminating photos of Happy Hour get posted on Facebook. This has only grown worse in recent years: In a tight job market and with the increasing insistence of running the Academy like a business, the pressure to be a perfect employee and to have no life outside of one’s research and teaching (save, perhaps, for some safe and non-threatening form of exercise such as jogging or swimming) is all-consuming.

In short, our lifestyles have become so self-regulated, difference has become so closeted, that our actual code of conduct embodies the exact opposite of what it professes. Tolerance is nonexistent: To be “queer” in academia is to be as damned as it was in pre-Stonewall days. The thing is, queerness is, as always, a moving target.

How tragic the closet remains a refuge for those deviate from the sexual norm.  The God of Normal must be obeyed and worshipped.

So who is queer these days? For starters, women with children. In researching this piece, I received a few e-mails from people who had to hide their gay BDSM lifestyles from their colleagues. However, it was pointed out to me that the real sexual nonconformists in academia are those considered some of the most normal in the real world: reproductive females. I was pointed to one study of art historians that revealed that, even with a field that is overwhelmingly (70%) female, men—especially married men with children—were granted tenure faster and more consistently, and at more prestigious institutions. For a woman to achieve on the level of a man, she needs to be, effectively, a female eunuch. This reflects both that two-career couples are likely to de-prioritize the woman’s career—and that home and childcare are more likely to fall to the woman, to the detriment of their careers. Even in the purportedly feminist academy, it seems de facto gender roles are alive and well.

How does this work? To get Foucaultian, the tenure carrot is used to discipline the academic body. “In my experience, thus far, the body and the person and the disciplines of both are opened up for commentary by senior faculty under the rubric of ‘tenure’,” an assistant professor in a Midwestern university posted on the H-HISTSEX discussion network. “If you want tenure you should think about such-and-such; you should be careful about so-and-so if you want tenure.”

No, the ones who are consciously or unconsciously holding up the married, heterosexual, tweed-jacketed male as the gold standard are our senior department members—those who make the hiring and promotion decisions—and the rest of our colleagues in our fields of study. (And how did the generation that first marched for equality get so conservative?) The mold of “the way an academic should be” is nothing more than something in their heads—a self-perpetuating myth that forces us into untenable hypocrisy. Rather than perpetuating it, we must do what scholars have done throughout the ages: Examine our deeply held and unquestioned beliefs, and discard those that are badly founded.

While it is true that we, as a society, are growing more alienated from any ideology of authenticity, authenticity in the existential sense is an integral part of the academic mission to search for truth. It is no easy thing to adjust one’s gaze so that a woman is given the luxury of not having to choose between her child and her career, and so that being one’s authentic self (within the limits of professionalism and ethical conduct) is not an object of shame. However, it is a moral imperative.

Oh, yes authenticity is the bottom line here. The inauthentic are rewarded and the authentic are exiled. Authenticity between professors and even moreso between professors and students has no place in the academy. Love has no place in the academy.  Of course, the love of learning is given lip service by the powers that be.  But what is given no lip service is authentic love between a professor and a student.  Such can be given no lip service since these relationships are officially held to be non-authentic, are viewed as being unacceptably asymmetric and regarded as a form of abuse.  Condemnation is not simply reserved for those who may engage in such relationships but also for those who write of professor student relationships in a non-condemning manner.

The one failing of Mondschein’s posting is his failure to recognize that student professor intimate relationships are now the love dare not speaks its name in all North American universities.  They have been effectively put in the closet as evidenced by Mondschien’s inability to see them, to write about them; they are simply beyond the fringe, an utter affront to the God of Normality.

August 26, 2010 Posted by | academic freedom, consensual relationships, ethics, gender, higher education, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating, tenure | 3 Comments

Billie Dziech unplugged

Billie Dziech is probably the most committed academic to obliterating student professor intimate relationships.  She began her campaign in the 1980s with the publication of her tome THE LECHEROUS PROFESSOR and she continues her crusade to the present day. In 1998 in the Chronicle of Higher education she published an essay entitled“The Abuse of Power in Intimate Relationships”.

This essay has not been systematically critiqued and continues to circulate on the web. The CHE essay provides the dankprofessor an opportunity to critique Dziech’s “thinking” on this issue.  So come along with me on this critical journey into the heart of Dziech; maybe we can find something of value.  I have highlighted quoted material from her essay

While the tangled puzzle of the relationship between President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky may appear far removed from life on American campuses, that is not the case. The current scandal recalls recent campus debates about intimate relationships between people with differing degrees of power — usually faculty members and students — and whether those relationships can be genuinely consensual.

In addition, the Clinton-Lewinsky controversy has become a litmus test of Americans’ attitudes toward male-female relations, and a harbinger of future positions on gender issues. Students and educators should listen carefully to the debate.

It is obvious that educators contemplating intimate relationships with students need to look hard at the portrait the media have painted of Monica Lewinsky. Reports depict her as a child deeply scarred by her parents’ acrimonious divorce; as an overweight teenager who developed a crush on a popular high-school classmate and then carried on a lengthy affair with a former high-school teacher; and as a young woman who at some point may have idolized or pursued Bill Clinton.

There is a simple message in the details of this young life. Whether or not we admit its pathetic quality, we must all recognize that people such as Monica Lewinsky exist, and that they pose a significant threat to those who choose to become intimately involved with them. The younger the person, the more likely that individual is to engage in fantasy and in actions based on whim. The more wounded the individual is at the onset of a relationship, the more vulnerable and unstable that person is likely to be during and after the affair.

Explicit in her analysis of Lewinsky is that we are on safe grounds in basing a psychological evaluation of her on media reports.  And, of course, Monica Lewinsky posed no significant threat to Clinton or anyone else.  The significant threat came from Linda Tripp and Special Prosecutor Starr who used Tripp’s surreptitiously taped conversations with Monica.  Linda Tripp and Prosecutor Starr systematically invaded the privacy of Lewinsky in order to invade the privacy of Clinton.  But Dziech in her essay never mentions Tripp and mentions Starr only once in passing. And no where in this essay is there any mention of the role of third party informants and the ethical issues involved when universities use or employ third party informants in their attempt to expose student professor couples.

Hence academicians, like Presidents, are either naive or reckless when they engage in physical contact (or what Mr. Clinton has described as an “emotional relationship”) with impressionable, unpredictable students who are unlikely to comprehend the true parameters of such interactions. Professors and Presidents alike should be sophisticated enough to realize the dangers inherent in singling out a subordinate for special attention. Monica Lewinsky is a chilling reminder that even the gift of a book of poetry (especially one with erotic material, such as Leaves of Grass) can lead to disaster.

Again Monica did nothing chilling. It was the people who were out to get Clinton who engaged in chilling and dastardly behavior.

People in positions of authority cannot ignore the vulnerabilities of those in subordinate positions. Perhaps that is why Andy Bleiler, the former drama teacher with whom Monica Lewinsky was sexually involved, seems so disreputable. Contending that the 19-year-old Ms. Lewinsky was “obsessed with sex” and that she “stalked” and “trapped” him into a five-year affair, Mr. Bleiler claimed that the young woman had been “no victim.” But his assertion rang hollow, even with the omnipresent supportive wife standing at his side.

Of course, observers cannot ignore the vulnerabilities of those in the so-called superordinate positions.  Persons in power positions become targets of other who wish to bring them down; some times by false charges, sometimes by frivolous civil suits.  The fact is that when it comes to power figures everyone close to the so-called powerful is vulnerable.  And when it comes to love and sex, one cannot truly love without making oneself emotionally vulnerable.

There is more at stake in the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal than just reputations, however. Educators should also note that countless Americans accept Mr. Bleiler’s portrait of the person Bill Clinton calls “that woman.” Those of us in academe who have fought for equality for women and the eradication of sexual harassment should be disturbed by polls such as one that found that men who had previously regarded the President as a “wimp” now were more inclined to support him — and to regard his wife positively because she once again “stood by her man.”

Of course, Clinton left office with high approval ratings.  In fact, until the arrival of Barak Obama, Clinton was and possibly still is the most popular American politician in the world at large.  His “affair” with Lewinsky did not hurt his stature, or that of his wife.

Already, the story of the President and the intern has revived old gender stereotypes that had seemed almost exhausted. The public appears to accept, without reservation, the image of Bill Clinton crafted by the Hollywood Houdini Harry Thomason and other supporters: He is struggling valiantly in adversity; he shoulders his burdens and carries on selflessly for family and country. Should it become necessary, those same supporters are undoubtedly prepared to portray Ms. Lewinsky as a delusional hysteric or a conniving predator who sullied an honest man’s virtue.

Well Billie Dziech must know that no politician is honest.  Given all the attacks on Clinton, he still has emerged unsullied.  No need for his supporters to sully Lewinsky since Dziech does a pretty good job of degrading and sullying her.

At present, though, the public doesn’t seem to need encouragement to view Ms. Lewinsky negatively. All it has to do is rely on stereotypes. Adhering perfectly to the old script on gender, a recent female caller to C-SPAN identified Ms. Lewinsky as “a wannabe.” The caller explained that she meant the kind of female found in every office or school, the kind who will do anything to be the boss’s or teacher’s “favorite.” One television commentator described Ms. Lewinsky as a “Valley girl,” another as “every woman’s nightmare.” Some enterprising citizen has been thoughtful enough to publish on the Internet either authentic or doctored nude pictures of Lewinsky. She has emerged as the pretty young thing who threatens hearth and home, because, presumably, even the strongest men are unable to resist a wily 21-year-old.

Dziech seems to be Lewinsky obsessed.  Yes, she was in the public scene, but she was involuntarily dragged into said scene.  Dziech needs to go beyond Lewinsky and focus on people who invade the privacy of others, such as Linda Tripp and Kenneth Starr.

That is surely a chilling portrait for those who have worked for laws and policies that encourage men to take responsibility for their sexual activities. Just when it appeared that Americans were beginning to “get” sexual harassment, just when the sexes seemed on the way to more mutual respect, along came the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal to demonstrate how overly optimistic that impression was. Nothing inappropriate may have happened between Lewinsky and Clinton, but, because of the allegations, society seems to have reverted, at least temporarily, to an escapist mentality of the past: “I don’t care what happened on campus, at work, or even in the Oval Office, so long as it doesn’t happen to me or my daughter.”

Oh, please, people are more caring than Dziech is willing to believe.  Most people came to see, except for Republicans in Washington, that the Lewinsky affair was consensual, and the matter should be dropped except that it was OK to read so-called non-fiction tell all books on the Clinton Lewinsky scenario.

The consensus of the polls conducted since January seems to be that Americans are not particularly disturbed by a 51-year-old authority figure’s having sex with an intern less than half his age. If one listens to radio and television call-in shows or reads the polls, it appears that the old, dark days are here again — that once more, it is acceptable to view students and working women as seductresses preying upon naive males.

Its not the old dark days, but rather the live and let live days, the days of non-acceptance of the government coercing adults involved in consensual relationships.  Dziech fails to understand and note that her so-called dark days were the same days that many Americans came to accept homosexuals at work, in government, as friends and as relatives.

An especially telling Newsweek survey reported that 45 per cent of the public believes that, if a sexual relationship did occur between Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, it was her fault for pursuing him. Only 17 per cent accepted a basic tenet of sexual-harassment law: that a person who is in a position of power misuses his authority if he — or she — engages in sexual activity with a subordinate.

Only 17% accepted the so-called basic tenet of sexual harassment law since they viewed the Clinton Lewinsky relationship as consensual. Take away the dehumanizing subordinate rhetoric and most people will admit and accept the fact that they have been in power differentiated relationships which they believe were consensual.  Dziech and others deny their perception of consensuality and wish to portray most Americans, particularly women, as victims.

It is little wonder that the public misunderstands that point. A month of exposure to the tortured logic of Administration officials and lawyers trying to minimize the scandal has demonstrated how easy it is to obscure the patently obvious point: It’s the sex that matters. In other words, if the alleged consensual relationship were legally, ethically, and socially acceptable, there would be no reason to discuss perjury, subornation of perjury, or obstruction of justice. If Mr. Clinton lied under oath and attempted to obscure the truth, it was because he understood what many, on campus and off, seem unwilling to admit publicly: Where an imbalance in authority exists, there can be no equality and thus no genuine consent.

Dziech is patently wrong here, out of touch with reality.  Generally people are sympathetic to Clinton lying because the lying dealt with his private sex life.  And people don’t want the government in their bedrooms.  Bottom line the problem that Dziech cannot understand is that many people if not most people would do the same thing as Clinton did- refuse to tell the absolute truth about their sex lives.

The law, assuming that human beings are more than animals enslaved to their passions, demands that those in positions of power behave responsibly and rationally, no matter how immoral, stupid, or lascivious their subordinates might be. That legal mandate seems lost on a public content to dismiss Monica Lewinsky as someone who “asked for it.”

Yes, people in power should behave rationally and responsibly and such is why it was wrong for a special prosecutor to engage in a sexual crusade and wrong for the House Republicans to impeach Clinton.

Before there was a name for sexual harassment and a recognition that, between individuals with disparate authority, even consensual sex is coercive sex, women who had affairs with teachers and employers were described as either seductive and dissolute or naive and vulnerable. However, when Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 were enacted, they required businesses and educational institutions to construct policies and procedures to discourage harassment and to set up training programs to educate people about the law and about appropriate interactions between superiors and subordinates.

Said educational campaign has failed, abysmally failed.  Selling consensual sex as coercive sex is a patent absurdity, it won’t sell.

Monica Lewinsky’s life spans the quarter-century of American history that has devoted close attention to gender issues, so it may be understandable that the public is unsympathetic to her not only because of her alleged willingness to engage in the purported sexual activity, but also because she is considered likely to have known better. She had every opportunity to be better educated than women in past generations were about the dangers and damage inherent in inappropriate sexual relations — and yet she allegedly still chose to become involved.

There is nothing inherently dangerous about inappropriate sexual relationships, e.g. same sex relationships were historically considered inappropriate; the danger came not from something inherent in homosexuality relationships, but the danger came from other people, people like Dziech who meddle in other peoples sex lives. And if we had a populace that was committed to appropriate and only appropriate sexual relations, what a dull world we would have created, a world that only could approach fruition in a totalitarian society.

Her situation should send a wake-up call to her peers. Just as the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas debate made it impossible for people to deny awareness of sexual harassment, so those in the post-Lewinsky generation may find it increasingly difficult to declare innocence or victimization after engaging in sex with teachers or employers. The caveat that governed consensual sex on the campuses and in the workplace during most of Ms. Lewinsky’s mother’s life was a simple “Don’t — or you’ll pay a heavy price.” Over the past decade and a half, however, as case law has mounted, and as complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and grievances filed at colleges and universities have increased, educators and employers have become more supportive of those who report having sexual relations with superiors.

More supportive most likely because they are required and are paid to do so.  There is big money involved in the sexual harassment industry, not only for the university police but for lawyers and for persons such as Dziech who are hired by universities as consultants to engage in the impossible task of creating an environment in which power differentiated persons do not fraternize. Too bad for Dziech, such is an impossible dream.

But despite that institutional support, the public reaction to Monica Lewinsky may — and probably does — suggest that a generation more sophisticated about sex and more knowledgeable about the law will be expected to assume greater personal responsibility for recognizing, resisting, and reporting inappropriate behavior. (And whether they like it or not, schools and colleges will continue to be the most likely settings in which those three “R’s” can be taught.)

Dziech is wrong again about the universities. Yes, there will be those recognizing, resisting and reporting, but most of the three Rs will be practiced by those who take responsibility for their own sexual behavior; resist the unwelcome intrusion by academic busybodies, and report only to themselves and trusted friends.

The assumption that all young adults are more sophisticated about harassment than they were in the past is unfortunate, though. First, it does not take into account the psychology of true victims, whose particular circumstances and emotional frailties may make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to recognize and resist harassment — and may make reporting it inconceivable. Monica Lewinsky may be one such victim. One has only to read accounts of her background to realize that she is a very vulnerable young woman.

The other problem with imposing a higher standard on the post-Lewinsky generation than has been used in recent years is that it wrongly assumes that the stepped-up discussions of harassment by parents, educational institutions, and the public have adequately educated the young about the problems with consensual relationships. That is simply not the case. Public discussion of sexual harassment has been, at best, contentious. Add the romantic portrayals on television and in film of illicit sex between teachers and students, and the message about the dangers of consensual sex becomes highly convoluted.

Yes, these messages are highly convoluted but so are Dziech’s messages.  And as for the young, her messages are directed to all members of the university community, no matter their age, no matter if the student is 25 or 35 or 45; they all need to be coerced by Dziech, et. al, to do the right thing.

Most colleges and universities have done little of substance to clarify the issue. Many simply ignore the problem of consent in their sexual-harassment policies; some strongly warn against consensual relationships; but almost none have been courageous or practical enough to ban consensual relationships altogether. While many businesses unequivocally prohibit relationships between adult workers and supervisors, debates in academe have centered — as they often do — on faculty members’ rights. When discussion of consent in relationships between supervisors and students is discussed, it usually occurs in an emotionally charged atmosphere, which results in students’ seeing the problem in simplistic, hyperbolic terms.

No businesses have across the board effective bans. Said businesses talk the talk but hardly ever walk the walk. In other words, appearances do not reflect reality. With the workplace becoming in essence the home place for many employees, employees will and do fraternize; it’s a matter of propinquity and convenience.

If the post-Lewinsky generation is to be held to a higher standard of accountability in sexual relationships than in the past, campus advocates for women’s issues should be very concerned about the Lewinsky-Clinton scandal and should initiate discussions about the ramifications of consent. That may not happen, however, if Patricia Ireland, president of the National Organization for Women, speaks for most advocates of women’s rights. She is reported to have said: “If the President had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, it was consensual. That’s a distinction I think people are trying to blur.”

Non-academic feminist Jill Ireland got it right.

Although Ms. Ireland may not “get” the dynamics of consent, we can hope that other women do, and that they will exercise reason and objectivity in the days ahead. It is no secret that academicians tend to be politically left of center and thus sympathetic to many of Mr. Clinton’s domestic and international policies. Should Monica Lewinsky disavow her previous affidavit or be found to have been sexually involved with the President, many academics will be trapped between Mr. Clinton’s verbal and political support for women’s issues and the misogyny and disregard for women that his private actions convey. If that happens, academics should muster the courage to divorce the man from his policies and reaffirm the truth they have fought hard to establish: However much superficial sophistication about sex or theoretical knowledge about sexual harassment students and workers might have, they are always at risk in relationships with professors or employers upon whom grades, recommendations, pay, or jobs depend.

But so are professors at risk, at risk of being charged with sexual harassment; at risk of a low graded student charging sexual harassment as part of a revenge scenario.  Everyone is at risk.  Certainly nothing that Dziech and her conferes have done have reduced the feelings of risk by both faculty and students.  Maybe what is needed is for all academics (including) students to take a vow of celibacy, maybe using the Catholic Church as their model!

No one in a public scandal about sex looks good. In this case, not Monica Lewinsky. Not Bill or Hillary Clinton. Not Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Not the press. And certainly not a nation that has told pollsters that it doesn’t much care how men and women treat one another, as long as the economy is sound.

Wow! Finally she mentions Kenneth Starr, but only in passing.  Shouldn’t Starr be Dziech’s star?

Some commentators have lauded this complacency about the alleged sexual activity as evidence of Americans’ increased “maturity,” “sophistication,” and “tolerance.” Those of us who write and speak about social issues and who teach college students need to reassess our roles in producing this “sophisticated” society. With the exception of their families, today’s youth are influenced most by their peers, the entertainment industry, and education. Since it is unlikely that friends and film stars can shed much light on the legal and ethical dimensions of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, educators must address the issue, both in casual conversations and in classroom discussions that deal with male-female issues, human development, social history, and the responsibilities of public leaders.

Yes, I agree that such should be addressed in classroom discussions and in informal conversations, but such is unlikely to occur in the context of coercion. People are unlikely to state the truth in public settings when said statements can lead to being disciplined and removed from the classroom. Of course, such persons can confidentially write to the dankprofessor, knowing that they, students and professors, have me as a resource person who will respect their confidentiality and their right to privacy

And we must realize that academe’s conception of sophistication and tolerance is directly tested in how it handles its own problems. When most campuses refuse to ban sexual relationships between students and professors, why should the public, when confronted by scandal, disapprove of the President’s cavorting with a young woman barely of legal age? Sophistication, tolerance, freedom, and individual rights are admirable concepts, but the genuinely enlightened recognize that there are always limits to freedom, that some behaviors deserve harsh judgment, and that, in some circumstances, tolerance allows pain and injustice to occur. Actions that denigrate and exploit women, particularly vulnerable subordinates, fit that category. We have an obligation to teach these principles to our students, by our words and by our own behavior.

Of course, given Dziech’s sophistication, she denies the reality that what she wants is a Big Brother or Big Sister university where students and professors must trust powerful others to not misuse their power in the sexual area. Does Billie Dziech really trust university administrators to wield such power in a fair and equitable manner, particularly when such power wielding is often done in secret?  Doesn’t Professor Dziech know that Kenneth Starr copy cats and varicolored sexual zealots populate the ranks of sexual police aka university administrators?  As is often the ultimate question, who is to protect us from our protectors, particularly when the protectors were once sophisticated professors who gave up their professorships for the “right” to wield big power and big money?

August 6, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, fraternization, higher education, privacy, secrecy, sex, sexual harassment, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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

Can a student and a professor fall in love?

Vancouver Island University has come up with a new twist on policies in regards to student professor sexual relationships.  As part of their statement on consensual relationships between students and profs, they have a sort of FAQ and they address the question- “Can’t a student and faculty member fall in love?”

Now it is addressing  the process of falling in love that the dankprofessor finds to be exceptional in this context.  Understandably,  bureaucrats, university or otherwise, would seem the least likely to be concerned with falling in love or being swept away or love at first sight. Of course, the bureaucratization of love would seem to me to be the ultimate oxymoron.

So following is the VIU response to “Can’t a student and faculty member fall in love?”  The VIU statement is highlighted and it interspersed with comments from the dankprofessor.

Yes, of course, that can occur. Many of our students are of similar age and experience to our faculty and, except for the circumstance of the employee/student relationship, could be considered very appropriate matches

Hold on for a moment; the question was can they fall in love, not whether such falling is appropriate.  In any case, for VIU, falling in love can appropriately occur if people are of the same age and experience.

Such is a rather narrow definition, is it not?  In fact, VIU tells me that my parents could not have appropriately fell in love since my father was 20 years older than my mother.  For VIU when does an age difference become too much of an age difference.  Now their similar experience thing opens up a Pandora’s box.  I guess that people of dissimilar national, ethnic and racial experiences are just not eligible for falling in love with each other.  And I expect that the highly educated and the not so highly educated are also ineligible for falling in love with each other, and so on and so on, no fraternizing with people from the wrong side of the tracks.  Just stick to your own kind!  And, of course, it would be unthinkable, unmentionable, for an administrator to fall in love with a student!

Often students and employees will share the same interests and the learning environment can encourage close collaboration and interpersonal support. However, the faculty member must remember that it is their responsibility to maintain appropriate boundaries with a student. There is no way to check out whether an attraction is mutual without crossing that professional boundary with a student.

OK, I get it, it appears OK for the faculty member to develop a crush on a student, have feelings of love toward a particular student.  But checking this out with the student in terms of finding out if it is mutual would not facilitate the maintenance of appropriate boundaries.  So confessions or professions of love to the student are simply out of line. But, I guess it would be OK to direct ones feelings of love into other creative enterprises such as writing love poems and songs of love as long as any particular student is not known as the subject of such artistry.  Of course, the VIU statement does not preclude the student from professing love for the prof.  If such becomes the case, I guess VIU would expect the professor to tell him or her that you are violating my boundaries and to please stop!

It is recommended that any employee who wishes to initiate a sexual relationship with a student wait until the institutional relationship has ended before taking any steps.

OK, now VIU has dropped the love thing and deals with not initiating a sexual relationship.  Wait to the institutional relationship has ended they state.  But for some of those adhering to VIU waiting rules, the long wait could very well lead to the waiting prof having a mental breakdown and end up being institutionalized.  Or just when the prof thinks it is now safe to approach ones love object, the prof now finds that he is two months too late and the student has accepted the hand of another, and the other being another professor.  Or after a four year wait and love now just around the corner, the prof finds out that the student has re-enrolled for another degree program. But there is more from VIU on this.

Making a practice of initiating sexual relationships with former students, however, would also be problematic. It could be understandable that a faculty member “falls in love” with a student once. It is not understandable or acceptable for a faculty member to “fall in love” with students and to initiate relationships with former students, on a routine basis. In those circumstances, a decision-maker would question whether the faculty member was exploiting their professional role to enhance their personal and social life.

So after the four year wait and now the student is a former student, the prof in VIU terms is still not on safe ground as to dating students since VIU finds dating former students to be “problematic”.  Given VIU standards, it is acceptable for them to “fall in love” with a student once, but not more than once.  If love with the student goes astray or leads to love and then divorce, then the professor should have learned his or her lesson and just give up on falling in love with students. As VIU states, such is simply not understandable.

Well, the dankprofessor will help out the VIU administration just a little bit.  Just because a prof asks out a student does not mean that the prof is in love with the student or the student with the prof.  Most dates end up being just another date.  One generally does not instantly meet the right one.  And if the pool of nearby eligibles for dating happens to be mainly former students, it is the most “natural” thing in the world to end up dating and possibly mating with a former student.  And the VIU administration engages in gross stereotyping when they refer to only the profs initiating. Are they not aware that students, and more specifically female students are quite capable of initiating and do initiate?

And finally in their last sentence it becomes quite revealing of who are these VIU people- “In those circumstances, a decision-maker would question whether the faculty member was exploiting their professional role to enhance their personal and social life”.  The revelation is that the VIU administrators are the decision-makers, not the professors and certainly not the students.  In the VIU world view, the administrators are the adults who make decisions as to what is best for their children- their profs and their students. This is authoritarianism and arrogance at its worse.  Or to put it in still other terms, VIU administrators are the VIPS who must control the behavior of the peasantry.

Now as for faculty members using their professional role to enhance their personal and social life.  Is not such the norm in social life,  that people use their professional role to enhance their personal and social life?  Even university administrators do this, even presidents, priests, parents, prophets and politicians do this, even Lithuanians and Latvians do it. We all do it!

Shame on VIU for lending their so called good name to this dribble. Such has no place in university life.

June 11, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, higher education, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | 3 Comments

University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Consensual Relationships Policy

The sexual regulations beat goes on in university land; it is everywhere  and nowhere.  Seldom commented on and tacitly accepted.
So the dankprofessor now goes to Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences.  Here is their policy along with my comments.
CONSENSUAL SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS POLICY
Rationale
The University’s educational mission is promoted by professionalism in faculty-student relationships. Professionalism is fostered by an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.
Now the dankprofessor can relate to this- professionalism fostered by mutual trust and respect. Only if such were the case.  Mutual trust and respect is an oxymoron as to what now follows.
Actions of faculty members and students that harm this atmosphere undermine professionalism and hinder fulfillment of the University’s educational mission. Trust and respect are diminished when those in positions of authority abuse, or appear to abuse, their power. Those who abuse, or appear to abuse, their power in such a context violate their duty to the University community.
Of course abusers do violate their duty to the university community.  The problem is that the people who create and promulgate these policies are abusers since they systematically violate the autonomy and privacy of students, professors and staff.
Faculty members exercise power over students, whether in giving them praise or criticism, evaluating them, making recommendations for further studies or their future employment, or conferring any other benefits on them. Amorous relationships between faculty members and students are wrong when the faculty member has professional responsibility for the student. Such situations greatly increase the chances that the faculty member will abuse his or her power and sexually exploit the student. Voluntary consent by the student in such a relationship is suspect, given the fundamentally asymmetric nature of the relationship.
Axiomatic here, ignore what students say; they can’t consent so their input is of no value re consent.
Moreover, other students and faculty may be affected by such unprofessional behavior because it places the faculty member in a position to favor or advance one student’s interest at the expense of others and implicitly makes obtaining benefits contingent on amorous or sexual favors.
Implicitly is the keyword here.  But nothing elaborated on about implicitly.  What I think it means is when an administrator or whomever believes such is the case, it is the case.  No need to prove anything; this is what a person(s) believes.  Now if the student and the prof make it explicit
that there were no illicit benefits; such does not count; can’t take the student seriously.  Now, is this mutual trust and respect?
Therefore, the University will view it as unethical if faculty members engage in amorous relations with students enrolled in their classes or subject to their supervision, even when both parties appear to have consented to the relationship.

Again, no iota of mutual trust or respect.  Everyone, almost everyone, is suspect, except of course the administrators enforcing the policy.

May 28, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, higher education, sex, sexual politics, student-prof dating | 1 Comment

Case Western Reserve policy on consensual relationships

Case Western Reserve has developed a rather detailed consensual relationships policy for students, faculty and staff.  It is essentially of the boilerplate genre, but it does include a couple of patently “absurd” statements; examples follow and then the dankprofessor comments.
Faculty, staff, and students may not use, in a sexual
harassment proceeding, a defense based upon
consent when the facts establish that a real and/or
implied supervisory power differential existed within
the relationship.
Wow! Consent is impossible in power differentiated relationships.  Case has
bought into the hardcore feminist position that differential power precludes consent, no exceptions. Ideologues rule here.
Compliance
It is expected that all members of the university
community comply with the Consensual Relationship
Policy. When relationships covered by this policy develop,
responsibility for reporting the relationship falls to the
person with greater supervisory authority. Relationships
covered by this policy that go unreported will be
investigated by the Faculty Diversity Office, Employee
Relations, and/or the Office of Student Affairs.
Now this one beyond the fringe, so to speak.  How can relationships that go unreported be investigated?   Will the university have undercover persons on campus who will forward secretly info on suspected couples, but such will not be reported?  The dankprofessor confesses to be totally baffled by this one.

May 28, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, higher education, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, student-prof dating | 1 Comment

Lynch mobs love Polanski

It took Gloria Allred, the queen of muckraking lawyers, to effectively bring the media and legal lynch mobs together in Los Angeles.  It occurred in the context of  her hosting former actress Charlotte Lewis at a Hollywood news conference so that Lewis could announce that she had been sexually assaulted by Roman Polanski in France in the 1980s.  Why such was announced at  this time was not made clear?  And Gloria Allred would not allow her to entertain any questions so clarity could not be pursued.  Of course, why Allred would not allow her to take questions was also not clear?  And even why Allred was there representing Lewis was also not clear?  And why Lewis ended up in Los Angeles and not in Paris to make her announcement was also not clear?  If she was interested in pursuing justice in terms of what Polanski supposedly did to her, shouldn’t she be in Paris talking to the relevant French authorities.  But instead she ends up talking to LA District attorney Steve Cooley who is spending much of his time attempting to prosecute and persecute Roman Polanski while running for the Attorney General of California.

But Allred and Lewis and possibly Cooley apparently accomplished their goal of having the media in tens of thousands of news sources repeat Lewis’s unsupported assertions over and over again that Polanski is a recividistic sexual predator.   As for Cooley’s goals, such a media circus might help to persuade the Swiss authorities to send Polanski back to Hollywood with a Hollywood ending orchestrated by Cooley.

Even though Lewis’s staged performance in LA is now over and Lewis’s drama coach Allred is temporarily on the sidelines, there is little doubt that  their beat will go on; the court of public opinion continues to be open for the unrestrained trashing of Polanski.  However, if one looks carefully enough one can find voices of temperance and sanity in this deluge, check out an article in the Guardian by Robert Harris and a blog post by Novalis Lore.  They are not of the Allred genre but they are of the genre that will not contribute to the feeding frenzies and public degradation ceremonies that are so predominant in today’s mediated world.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | celebrities, rape, Roman Polanski, sex, sexual politics, Uncategorized | 1,027 Comments

Fellatio and bats at Irish university.

The president of the University of College Cork has becomes uncorked re a sexual harassment charge relating to fellatio and bats.  Read the story as presented below.  Absurdity knows no limits when it comes to how universities handle sexual matters.

London, May 18 (ANI): An academic at the University College Cork in Ireland found himself at the centre of a sexual harassment scandal after he discussed a scientific paper, titled ‘Fellatio in fruit bats prolongs copulation time’ with a female colleague.

Dylan Evans, a psychologist at the university’s school of medicine, has been saddled with a two-year period of intensive monitoring and counselling after discussing the paper with a colleague.

And now his university is coming under international pressure to lift the punishment meted out to Dylan.

As part of what he says was an ongoing discussion on human uniqueness, Evans showed a copy of the fellatio paper to a female colleague in the school of medicine.

“There was not a shred of a sign of offence taken at the time. She asked for a copy of the article,” New Scientist quoted Evans as saying.

A week later he got a letter informing him that he was being accused of sexual harassment.

Evans said that the whole case is “utterly bizarre”.

The complainant’s side of the argument is that she was “hurt and disgusted”, and asked Evans to leave a copy of the paper with her as way of cutting short the meeting.

Apparently, there was more to the grievance between Evans and the complainant than the fellatio paper incident, but an independent investigation found that Evans was not guilty of sexual harassment.

The investigation stated that it was reasonable for the colleague to have been offended and that showing the paper was a joke with a sexual innuendo, but that it was not Evans’ intention to cause offence.

Nevertheless, the university’s president, Michael Murphy, imposed a censure, which Evans says has prevented him getting tenure.

An online petition calling on the university authorities to back down has been set up and has been signed by high-profile academics including philosopher Daniel Dennett of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and Steven Pinker of Harvard University.

Dennett called the punishment “an outrageous violation of academic freedom” and Pinker says the “absurd and shameful” judgment “runs contrary to the principle of intellectual freedom and freedom of speech, to say nothing of common sense”.

The paper, which was carried out by many popular journals, had a certain prurient interest, which was only heightened by an explicit video that went with itMovie Camera.

The Irish Federation of University Teachers has written to Murphy asking him to rescind the two-year period of monitoring. (ANI)

May 18, 2010 Posted by | higher education, sex, sexual harassment, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Sex at Yale

So Yale University has now formally banned sexual relationships between professors and ALL undergraduate students. Previously the ban applied only when the faculty member was in a supervisory relationship with a student.

It is this supervisory aspect that supposedly was the basic rationale for prohibiting student prof sexual relationships.  Such supposedly disabled profs from engaging in non-prejudicial grading and even if there was no grading problem such gave the appearance of a conflict of interest.  And those who were appearance obsessed argued that ultimately the integrity of the university was some how undermined.

The dankprofessor never bought into this as the real rationale. Academics were not and are not hung up on the importance of grading; in fact, grading occupies the low end of the academic totem pole.  It’s generally considered to be dirty work that can be farmed out to inexperienced teaching assistants.  What too many academics are hung up on is sex, particularly academics who see themselves as feminists, feminists who when they think about sex dread the existence of power differentials which are viewed as being omnipresent in heterosexual relationships.

So student professor relationships became the quintessential dreaded power differentiated relationships with the female student always being the helpless and victimized other in need of protection.  Or to put it in other terms, the new Yale ban is patently, openly anti-sexual; the anti-sexual brigades have taken over at Yale and in the dankprofessor’s opinion this is just the opening shot.

Just listen to Yale’s Deputy Provost Charles Long who has advocated student prof dating bans for many a year-  “I think we have a responsibility to protect students from behavior that is damaging to them and to the objectives for their being here.”  Obviously, people who think that sex is damaging are anti-sexual and would prefer to ban sex when such is possible.  And do note that Long makes no exceptions- he knows all that he needs to know- sex with professors damages undergraduates, end of story, no need to be concerned about students who do not want his protection.  No concern here about issues relating to consent or dissent.  Long has the power at Yale and he engages in power abuse par excellence in the area of sexuality.

The Yale undergraduate as child has no right to dissent when it comes to authoritarian Yale administrators. No matter that Yale students are considered cream of the crop, are widely held to be part of an intellectual elite.  These Yale students do not become full adults until they are Yale graduates.  The Yale mantra becomes wait until you graduate which effectively replaces the old traditional mantra of wait until you are married.

And no place in the new Yale policy is there any “grandfathering” clause.  A student and professor who are in an ongoing relationship which was consonant with the old policy now are in violation under the new policy. Breaking up may be hard to do but it is the only thing to do if one wants to stay in good graces at Yale.  OK, the student can drop out or the prof can resign.

And then there are those who say none of these dreaded things will come to be since the effect of the Yale policy will be to simply drive these people into the closet and in the closet they will be left alone.  Such represents the thinking of pipe dreamers.  The realists know that there is no shortage of Linda Tripps at Yale.  And they are waiting patiently for their right Yale professor and the right Yale student.  The “good” that these diligent informants can do is monumental; and all can be done in secret.  And I expect that Deputy Provost Long is prepared for the informants and the false chargers.  Or will he spare himself  by taking a flight into retirement?

April 10, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, feminism, grading, higher education, sex, sexual rights, student professor dating, Yale University | 1 Comment

Ivy Love

Politicsdaily has just published what the dankprofessor calls a diatribe by Lizzie Kurnich against student professor relationships.  She writes about this subject based on stereotypes and an imagination run amok.  All of this came about as a result of Yale passing a non-fraternization policy between Yale profs and student undergraduates.  The policy includes the amorous clause which I have commented on previously.  My response to Ms. Kurnich follows.

Lizzie Kurnich is pompous and presumptuous in terms of how she views both students and professors who engage in sexual intimacy.  She writes off such relationships as crushes, makes short shrift of the love engaged professor as simply wanting the approval of someone too young or wishes to engage in a the long vacation in land of youth. And then portrays female students as dumbfounded, such students would be incapable of carrying on a conversation based on her vision of the erudite professor.

Ms. Kurnich apparently is incapable of transcending her fictive constructions and imagining the possibility that there are professors and students who share a love of knowledge can also share a knowledge of love. These two loves are not antithetical but can represent the ideal of  the romantically and intellectually inclined.

And as for her dinner experience with a male student, such was positively fine for her. Such could also be fine for a male prof who is involved with a specific female student.  Ms. Kurnich seems to impute that such a professor is sexually obsessed with ALL of his female students.  She finds it easy to sexually objectify such male profs.  She views them thru her sexually tinged lenses. Now if these professors were in her terms sexually conventional she would not see them as being sexually obsessed and immature.  The sin of these profs is that they do not worship the God of Normal as Ms. Kurnich apparently worships.

But I think it is quite easy to get beyond what is normal, what is immature, what is a crush and to view university environments as representing a geography in which there is a high concentration of persons who are eligible, who are looking for dates and mates.  The principle of propinquity really does explain the tendency of some students and professors to date.  They are part of the same geographic and often the same intellectual and social communities.

Oh, and let me add this note, not all students and professor pairings represent a huge age discrepancy.  My wife is two years older than myself and she was two years older than myself when I met her when I was a prof and she was a student.  And yes, I expect that Ms. Kurnich and others who share her view would argue that we are exceptions, not the people they have in mind.  But in the university sexual codes they defend we are trashed just like all the other student prof couples.  And, at the risk of repetition, such represents the core of the problem since our detractors simply cannot comprehend that the student professor labels can be transcended, boundaries can be crossed and the individuality of the other can be transcended, appreciated and loved. In Buberian terms its about going from an I-it to an I-thou relationship.


April 8, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, fraternization, higher education, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating, Yale University | 1 Comment

Duke students to become unwitting rapists

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education(FIRE) in a news release, April 7, 2010, charges that Duke University in a recently implemented sexual misconduct policy has rendered students as unwitting rapists and removed protections for students accused of sexual misconduct.  The entirety of the FIRE news release appears at the end of this post and by clicking here one can read the entirety of the Duke sexual misconduct policy.

The dankprofessor views this new sexual misconduct policy as both draconian and authoritarian.  The policy attempts to regulate the most intimate aspects of student lives.  The major rationale given for such intrusion into the private lives of Duke students is that the policy attempts to insure that all sexual interaction between students is ‘absolutely’ consensual.  The irony is that the policy has been applied to Duke students without their consent. There was no vote taken by Duke students authorizing this policy.  The policy is being imposed on Duke students by the powers that be at Duke.  In essence, Duke administrators and their confreres come off as authoritarian adults disciplining their children.

The utter hypocrisy of the creators of this policy is apparent.  They argue that this policy in essence functions to upgrade the principle of consent and to sexually protect Duke students.  If such be the case, then why do the creators and implementors of this policy exempt themselves?  Why aren’t all Duke administrators, staff members, and faculty also beneficiaries of this policy?  Aren’t they deserving of the same protections granted to Duke students?   Aren’t these policies applied to Duke students with the hope that students will apply these approved practices throughout their lives?

The dankprofessor feels that he knows why these policies are not applied to Duke constituencies beyond students.  Such non-application occurs because administrators, faculty and others would not tolerate being treated like children, would not tolerate having their sex lives governed by self-serving authoritarians.  In the area of sexual civil liberties Duke students deserve the same basic rights as their so-called superiors.

The dankprofessor hopes that Duke faculty and administrators stand up for the rights of their students.   Too much abuse has gone at Duke.  Too many authoritarians have already hurt too many innocent Duke students in their zealous quest for so-called justice.

FIRE statement-

DURHAM, N.C., April 7, 2010—Duke University has instituted a new “sexual misconduct” policy that can render a student guilty of non-consensual sex simply because he or she is considered “powerful” on campus. The policy claims that “perceived power differentials may create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion.” Duke’s new policy transforms students of both sexes into unwitting rapists simply because of the “atmosphere” or because one or more students are “intoxicated,” no matter the degree. The policy also establishes unfair rules for judging sexual misconduct accusations. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is challenging the policy.

“Duke’s new sexual misconduct policy could have been written by Mike Nifong,” said FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley. “Members of the men’s basketball team could be punished for consensual sexual activity simply because they are ‘perceived’ as more powerful than other students after winning the national championship. Students who engage in sexual behavior after a few beers could be found guilty of sexual misconduct towards each other. This is not just illogical and impractical, but insane. Given its experience during the lacrosse team rape hoax, Duke, of all schools, should know better than to institute such unjust rules about sexual misconduct.”

The new policy was introduced at the beginning of the school year with fanfare from the Duke Women’s Center—the same center that apologized for excluding pro-life students from event space in a case FIRE won last month. Women’s Center Director Ada Gregory was quoted in Duke’s student newspaper The Chronicle justifying the new policy, saying, “The higher [the] IQ, the more manipulative they are, the more cunning they are … imagine the sex offenders we have here at Duke—cream of the crop.” (In a follow-up letter to The Chronicle, Gregory claimed that the quote was inaccurate and did not reflect her views, but stood by her analysis that campuses like Duke are likely to harbor smarter sex offenders who are better able to outwit investigators.)

Duke’s vastly overbroad definition of non-consensual sex puts nearly every student at risk of being found guilty of sexual misconduct. Students are said to be able to unintentionally coerce others into sexual activity through “perceived power differentials,” which could include otherwise unremarkable and consensual liaisons between a varsity athlete and an average student, a senior and a freshman, or a student government member and a non-member.

Further, students are said to be unable to consent to sexual behavior when “intoxicated,” regardless of their level of intoxication. Duke has turned mutually consensual sexual conduct, which might merely be poorly considered, into a punishable act. Adding to the confusion, if both parties are intoxicated at all, both are guilty of sexual misconduct, since neither can officially give consent. North Carolina law does not support this definition of consent.

“Of course, there is no way that everyone who was intoxicated during sexual activity, let alone ‘perceived’ as more powerful, is going to be charged with sexual misconduct,” said Adam Kissel, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program. “Add to that the provision about an unintentional atmosphere of coercion, and anyone can see that Duke’s policy is impossible to rationalize or to fairly and equitably enforce. As a result, this policy effectively trivializes real sexual misconduct, which is a gravely serious crime.”

The new policy even makes reporting of so-called sexual misconduct mandatory for any Duke employee who becomes aware of it, regardless of the wishes of the alleged victim.

Furthermore, Duke has made fair enforcement of the sexual misconduct policy even more difficult by establishing different procedures and even a different “jury” to judge sexual misconduct complaints. For instance, sexual misconduct charges are judged by two faculty or staff members and only one student, but all other offenses are judged by a panel of three students and two faculty or staff members. Duke fails to explain why a jury with a majority of one’s peers is necessary for charges like assault or theft but not sexual misconduct.

Other problems in the sexual misconduct policy, detailed in FIRE’s letter to Duke President Richard Brodhead of March 4, include giving the complainant more rights than the accused, requiring the results of a hearing to be kept secret in perpetuity even if one is found not guilty or is falsely accused, and allowing anonymous and third-party reporting so that the student may never be able to face his or her accuser.

FIRE wrote, “As a private university, Duke is not obliged to agree with the authors of the Bill of Rights about the value of the right to face one’s accuser. Nevertheless, Duke ignores their wisdom at the peril of its own students and reputation.” Duke has declined to respond to FIRE’s letter in writing.

“More than any other school in the nation,” Shibley said, “Duke should be aware that its students deserve the best possible rules and procedures for ensuring that rape and sexual misconduct charges are judged fairly. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense. Duke students deserve a policy under which true offenders will be punished but the innocent have nothing to fear.”

FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at thefire.org.

Tell Duke University to give its students the protections they deserve. Write to President Brodhead here.


CONTACT:

Richard H. Brodhead, President, Duke University: 919-684-2424 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              919-684-2424      end_of_the_skype_highlighting;
president@duke.edu

April 7, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, dating, Duke University, higher education, privacy, rape, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights | 2 Comments

Shutting out the campus sexual zealots

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reader: I married her.

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

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

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

Sexual messiness and Louisiana Tech

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

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

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

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

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

UNM student/professor couple murdered

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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