Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

The love that dare not speak its name

In my prior post on the LA Times being bamboozled by the UC administration as to the number of professors dismissed for violating the UC student professor dating code, such bamboozling can be quite effective.  Such is likely to be effective since the whole process is usually shrouded in secrecy.  Charges for violation are confidential and the outcome of such cases are confidential.  The name of the alleged victim is confidential as well as the one who is so charged.  Of course, it is much more likely that more persons know the name of the alleged offender than the alleged victim.  Many times there may be no complaining victims.  In the UCLA case, a third party functioned as an informant; whether this informant violated the privacy of of the student and professor was simply of no concern to the UCLA chancellor.  The fact that the UCLA chancellor spoke out on this case is what is so exceptional.  Obviously the chancellor felt that he had to speak out to make it clear to all concerned that UCLA had a no tolerance policy for professors who violated  the consensual dating code and it was of no import to him that the professor had a very strong record of service to the UCLA community; it was also of no concern to him that many students rallied in support of the professor and essentially begged the UCLA administration to not dismiss the professor.  Shortly after these public pronouncements  the professor was no longer seen on campus.

But here is where this situation takes a bizarre turn.  Two years later as far as the UC administration is concerned, this dismissal never occurred.  The UC administration is being quite serious when they state there has never been a faculty dismissal under this code.  What happened to this professor is shrouded in secrecy.  What I speculate happened is that the professor resigned and retired in the context of signing a confidentiality agreement which meant he simply disappeared from campus.  I have no idea how many more professors may have disappeared from UCLA or from any of the other University of California campuses.  I challenge any student or professor to come up with names and numbers in this area.  I doubt that few will take up this challenge since any student or professor seeking such information will probably be held to be under suspicion, and may be subject to various violations of privacy.  The fact is that one professor from a mid-western university who published an article on student professor dating a few years ago in a sociology journal ended up being charged with sexual harassment; the professor so charged is a woman; the outcome of her case I believe is pending. 

The Dankprofessor holds that SECRECY is a key component in attempting to understand the contemporary context of student professor relationships.  A major, if not the most major, function of these codes has been to drive student professor relationships into the closet, the creation of a new campus underground.  Fewer and fewer professors are willing to engage in scholarly writing on the subject.  For those who do and even hint that these bans are problematic one can be pretty sure that the most hideous labels will be applied to them.  When Professor Abramson received his initial public attention in the Chronicle of Higher Education, commentaries published in the Chronicle focused on the good professor’s physical appearance indicating that his look was the look of a lecherous professor.  In the 1990s when I was one of the few male professors speaking out against these bans, I was subject to myriad character assassinations; such did not deter me, but I do feel that these attacks did deter others from speaking out.  Today I can’t find paper presentations in any of the major social science associations meetings, whether it be the ASA, APA, regional sociological and psychological associations.  There are many many papers on homosexuality and gays, the subject is now thoroughly out of the closet, and thoroughly in the closet when it comes to student professor relationships.  Academics play it safe, both students and professors, both tenured and untenured in adhering to appropriate norms regarding the love that dare not speak its name.  Of course, I am one of the few exceptions, I only wrote about gay life when the preponderance of gays were still the closet.  In 1971, I published an article entitled “Coming Out in the Gay World” which foresaw the upcoming positive changes in the creation of a “public” gay world and a world where homosexuality would no longer be the love that dare not speak its name.  Then and now advocates of the closet argue that going public would offend too many good upstanding citizens. So many of the attempts to repress speech and association in contemporary academic life relate to offending sensitive others.  How sad! How utterly sad that more and more academics are committed to not offending others.  How sad that as of this date not a single professor at the University of Connecticut Law School has come forward in defense of their colleague, Robert Birmingham!

It was back in 1994 in the journal Radical Teacher that sociologist Toni H. Oliviero wrote about the dangerous consequences relating to secrecy that would result from banning student professor relationships.  Quoting from this article-

“I am thinking of two things here. First the ways that prohibitions construct the silence of concealment. The establishment of anti-sex rules would create the need to lie (just when gays and lesbians are daring not to in significant numbers). Axiomatic is, There will be sex. There will be consensual relations between all sorts of people. Some of those relations will be only ostensibly consensual, in your view or mine. But sex will happen. Do we want to drive it underground and cause a sexual relationship between two adults to take its shape, even in part, from the narrow and twisted constraints that secrecy imposes? When you prohibit something, you cannot then talk about how to do it as well as possible, or as harmlessly. This constraint on our ability to learn is not in keeping with any notion I can imagine of ourselves as teachers or as citizens.”

Yes, another apt title for this post would be ACADEMICS IN CONSTRAINTS, CONSTRAINTS MADE AND IMPOSED BY ACADEMICS.

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

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor.

© Copyright 2007

November 2, 2007 Posted by | academic freedom, ethics, fraternization, higher education, homosexual, political correctness, secrecy, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, the closet, UC, UCLA | Leave a comment

UC Bamboozled the LA Times

In the LA Times article of October 22 relating to consensual student/professor dating bans, a UC spokesperson was interviewed by the reporter as to the frequency of violations of the UC code on consensual relationships.  The LA Times reported on the UC response in the following terms-

“Since 2003, a handful of cases of possible faculty violations of the policy have been formally reviewed, according to UC spokesman Brad Hayward. No professor has been dismissed, although a few were disciplined with warning letters that are considered confidential personnel matters, he said.”

Such is simply not the case.  Maybe Brad Hayward was misinformed by the UC upper echelon or he was engaging in a terminological manipulation to avoid telling the truth.

UCLA administrator/professor Adolfo Bermeo was dismissed in 2005 for violating the UC consensual relationship policy. The case was reported in detail by the UCLA Daily Bruin on March 22, 2005.  There were student protests in support of Adolfo Bermeo. Bermeo admitted to a consensual relationship with an enrolled student and the relationship came to the attention of the UCLA administration.  Even though it was asserted that the relationship came to the attention of the UCLA administration by the invasion of Bermeo’s privacy, UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale felt that it did not matter how the relationship was discovered, disciplinary action would be taken against Bermeo.  In defending his actions, “the chancellor pointed to the age difference and “extraordinary” power gap between the director and student and said what Bermeo did doesn’t miss statutory rape by that much.”

Although it was not reported by the Daily Bruin that Bermeo was dismissed for a consensual relationship, as of April 2005 Bermeo could not be found at UCLA.  He has since resurfaced in Washington DC as a retired UCLA professor employed by a non-profit organization focusing on helping minority students obtain their educational goals.

 So Adolfo Bermeo continues with the good work he did at UCLA.  He would still be at UCLA if UCLA respected faculty members rights to privacy and association and if UCLA did not have a zero tolerance policy for consensual relationships code violators.

Of course, the UCLA and UC administrations do not admit that such cases are hidden under the informal policy of allowing the alleged offenders to resign and retire.

As for the LA Times reporter, Larry Gordon, the dankprofessor believes he naively accepted the UC’s Brad Hayward’s  statement at face value and ended up being bamboozled by the California higher education establishment.

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

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor.

© Copyright 2007

October 28, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, student professor dating, UC, UCLA | 1 Comment

Putting UC Santa Barbara professor “on notice”

In the LA Times article on Professor Abramson, Professor Gayle Binion, UC Santa Barbara professor who was the muscle behind the UC professor student dating ban, demonstrates her utter disdain for her UC faculty colleagues, and I expect she was only referring to her male colleagues, when she stated “it is only the student who is going to suffer” when a relationship ends.

What an utterly gross and demeaning stereotype of male professors.  Does she not believe that even male professors have emotions?  Is she incapable of seeing her male colleagues as full human beings who can experience the hurt associated with the ending of a relationship?  Does she not know that Roy Orbison’s “Love Hurts” was and is applicable to both men and women?

Her apparent inability to see her male faculty colleagues as being emotionally vulnerable human beings demonstrates that she has some sort of mental or emotional deficiency.  If such be the case, the cold blooded Gayle Binion may be masking her own feeling of being unloved, and wrapping herself in a feminist and sometimes bureaucratic rhetoric that  justifies her demeaning of her male colleagues.

Professor Binion continues her rant when she stated that the banning rule “…not only makes parents more secure when they send their kids to  UC, it puts the faculty on notice”.  Can the good professor believe that parents at times, even frequently, welcome their daughter’s choice of a professor as her partner or mate?  I can testify that as an eligible male professor who dated students I never encountered any parents who objected to their daughter being in a relationship with me.  With some parents I developed long lasting and valued friendships.  Never once was I ever treated rudely or with disdain by any parent of a student at any time, either during or after the time I was their daughter’s professor.  Personally, I cannot imagine real parents in the real world going thru university codes of conduct re consensual dating policies to determine their choice of a university for their son or daughter.  If such parents are existent, I think it would be fair to characterize them as controlling parents, parents who in all probability would find themselves to be quite at home with Professor Binion  being an agent for them controlling and patrolling their children while they attend UC.

In any case, the bottom line is control.  As Binion states, she wants to put faculty “on notice”  and keep the “kids” under control with herself as being a kind of surrogate authoritarian mother.  Of course, it is the same old story, the dilemma of how to protect oneself from ones protector.

My advice to the professor who has consented to the non-consensual policies advocated by Gayle Binion,  et. al., is to respect yourself and your colleagues, and to put Gayle Binion and her confreres on notice that UC faculty will join their UCLA colleague Paul Abramson in speaking out in advocacy for the basic freedoms of freedom of choice and association which are freedoms still worth preserving and fighting for in our contemporary universities.

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

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor.

© Copyright 2007

October 28, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, ivory tower romance, sexual politics, student professor dating, UC, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA | Leave a comment

   

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