Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Second thoughts on due process at SIU

When the dankprofessor sees recommendations such as those put forth by the SIU Faculty Senate, a tendency may develop to initially screen out the bad. Such was the case on my prior posting on SIU. So after regaining my wits, I searched out the SIU policy on consensual relationships.  And it is bad and following are the key sections of the policy as well as my commentary.

Consensual amorous or sexual relationships between faculty and students or between a supervisor and an employee may result in claims of sexual harassment, even when both parties appear to have consented to the relationship. The power differential inherent in such relationships may compromise the subordinate’s free choice. When those in authority abuse or appear to abuse their power in a relationship, trust and respect in the University community are diminished. Moreover, others who believe they are treated/evaluated unfairly because of such a relationship may make claims of harassment.

Therefore, it is a violation of this policy if faculty members become involved in amorous or sexual relationships with students who are enrolled in their classes or subject to their supervision, even when both parties appear to have consented to the relationship. No faculty, staff, or graduate assistant shall become involved in an amorous relationship, consensual or otherwise, with a student for whom that person currently has any teaching responsibility, including counseling and advising, coaching, supervision of independent studies, research, theses, and dissertations. In all cases in which an amorous or sexual relationship exists or develops, it is the obligation of the faculty member, staff member, or graduate assistant whose University position carries the presumption of greater power to disclose the relationship immediately to the appropriate supervisor who will contact the Office of the Provost for assistance in avoiding an appearance of impropriety and a potential conflict of interest.

Really the THEREFORE of the second paragraph is a non-sequitur since not all those in authority abuse or appear to abuse.  SIU dropped the third category- those in authority who do not abuse and do not appear to abuse. 

Then in the second paragraph, SIU appears to throw in the towel on appearances since the violations remain “even when both parties appear to have consented to the relationship.”   Well, I said appears, and it “appears” to the dankprofessor that SIU is muddled or confused when it comes down to appearances and consensual relationships.

And last but not least the policy mandates that the faculty member disclose the relationship to an SIU supervisor.  Or to put it in an unvarnished dank manner, the policy mandates the faculty member out the student lover, the student is not entitled to privacy.   If the SIU had minimal concern for student rights and privacy, student consent would be basic and elementary.  So much for due process and fairness at SIU.

The dankprofessor hopes that the FreeU blog will recognize how the SIU consensual relationships policy tramples on freedom and due process.

November 26, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, sex, sexual harassment, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, Southern Illinois University, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Southern Illinois University and sexual harassment

The FreeU Blog reports that the Faculty Senate of Southern Illinois University has recommended changes to a new SIU sexual harassment code that embraces the fundamentals of due process of law. The proposed faculty amendments are as follows-

1. Due process rights shall be afforded to all parties.
2. A Sexual Harassment Review Board shall be formed to work with the compliance officer.
3. A person shall be banned only if he or she poses an immediate threat.
4. Judicial Review board members may be appointed to the Sexual Harassment Panel for cases
involving faculty.
5. The accused shall be notified about the complaint within five working days.
6. The accused and complainant shall have access to a redacted version of the preliminary
investigative report.
7. The accused and complainant shall have the right to appeal and present their own cases.
8. The Sexual Harassment Panel shall submit a report to the chancellor.
9. Records of cases shall be kept under strict confidentiality.
10. The definition of sexual harassment shall be consistent with the Illinois Human Rights Act.

The dankprofessor enthusiastically endorses these recommended amendments, but with full knowledge that the university administration may choose to reject some or all of these recommendations.

The FreeU blog notes:

This is progress but the Faculty Senate only went halfway. The overly broad definition of “sexual” harassment still includes everything but the kitchen sink, and still intrudes on the classroom.

The new code expands the definition of “sexual” harassment and adds to the laundry list of possible infractions. This is precisely the kind of “chilling” approach that the Office for Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education) rebuked several years ago. The code’s definition allows accusers to claim “hostile environment” in the face of innocent quips, humor, gestures, and “sexually-explicit” material that is “inappropriate.” It extends the code to on and off-campus activities. I went over this ground in my “Open Letter.”

What SIU needs to do as well as most other universities is to seek out the counsel of the FreeU blog on sexual harassment policy.  The FreeU blog has the dankprofessor’s seal of approval.

November 26, 2008 Posted by | ethics, higher education, litigation, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, Southern Illinois University | 1 Comment

   

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