Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

A view from Canada

U-news of Canada has a collection of recent essays, including one by the dankprofessor, on student professor relationships.  Most of the essays are indicative of the retarded thinking on this issue.   A close reading of the Dalhousie pamphlet on helping their professors and students could lead one to become diagnosed as paranoid.  Ultimately, it is fair to state that these policies are driven by a fear of sexuality.  Until said fears are overcome, the campus fear mongers will continue to rule the day with their cadre of campus police and lawyers.

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Canada, consensual relationships, Dalhousie University, ethics, higher education, outing students, privacy, sex, sexual harassment, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Warwick University | Leave a comment

Outing students

The dankprofessor has repeatedly argued  but to no avail that university regulations that require a professor who is in a sexual relationship with a student to report said relationship to the appropriate university administrator is a gross violation of the student’s privacy.  In terms of this policy, there is no requirement that the student must give permission to the professor to report their relationship to the University. 

My advice to professors who are in such a situation is to not report unless there is student consent.  More generally my advice is that if the professor does report to the administration, the probability is that said relationship will become known to the university community.  In effect, the professor will be outing both himself or herself and the student.

In terms of the Warwick case, the outing of the student was disastrous for the student.  She has framed it in the following manner-

“To be frank, this story has never been newsworthy and should never have come to light. Aside from the fact that the details disclosed have been of a deeply personal nature, the widespread disclosure of this has proved very upsetting. It really has.”

And the University World News has reported the following:

When Professor Istvan Pogany, 57, began a consensual relationship with one of his students at Britain’s University of Warwick, he did what many would consider ‘good practice’ and informed his line manager. But the student, who is in her 30s, then fell pregnant and her subsequent anguished decision to have an abortion led to lurid headlines that raised the question again whether intimate relationships between academics and students should be more strongly discouraged, or even prohibited.

Of course, the University World News didn’t get it quite right.  The Warwick case raises the question as to whether professors should be forced to report on their students and their intimate relationships.  If privacy had been respected at Warwick, there is little likelihood that this would have become a media story.  Laissez faire in terms of intimate relationships between adults may at times be problematic, but it is far better than forcible intrusion by government authorities and university administrators into the sex lives of those who they consider to be their subjects.

January 27, 2009 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, outing students, privacy, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Uncategorized, Warwick University | Leave a comment

False prior posting

Prior posting about the death of a Warwick University student was not true.  To put it bluntly the dankprofessor was bamboozled by unknown person or persons who sent me a fraudulent news release and also had said press release posted on the web.  My apologies to the student and to others who had read this posting.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | ethics, higher education, Warwick University | 3 Comments

Consideration of a consensual affair at Warwick University

The UK’s Telegraph reported on December 7 that

Warwick University is considering its stance in the wake of the romance between the law professor Istvan Pogany, 57, and a mature student in her 30s.

The human rights expert began a relationship with the woman following the death of his wife.
The affair started in 2007 and the pair travelled abroad on holiday together. When the couple informed the university about their relationship, it advised the professor not to flaunt the affair or mark her papers.

The student fell pregnant in earlier this year and agonised over whether to have an abortion.
She is said to have cancelled a series of appointments before finally going through with a surgical termination and taking the remains home in a conical flask for a proper burial.

The burial is said to have taken place in the professor’s back garden at his home in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The affair led to an internet gossip campaign among students and staff and two website petitions, one praising Professor Pogany as a brilliant academic and another that accused him of abusing his position of power. Both online petitions have been removed.

The Hungarian-born lecturer, who teaches Human Rights and international law, is currently abroad on arranged study leave and is not due back to Warwick University until the beginning of January. When contacted for comment, he answered in Hungarian.
The student said: “I just want to put this behind me.”

In a statement, Warwick University said: “The university is aware of a relationship between Professor Pogany and a student. We are aware that some institutions within the UK are moving towards the establishment of a code of conduct in respect of such matters and this is also presently under review at Warwick.

“We are mindful that the people involved are both adults and the university has to take this into account in the way it responds both to the situation itself, and also to enquiries about that situation.

“We take our responsibilities to both our students and staff very seriously.
“We are seeking to support and advise both the student and the member of staff. It is not possible to for us comment further without breaching the privacy of those individuals concerned.”

Such represents a most unfortunate and sad situation.  Except for the most committed romantics, I think we all know that love affairs can have rather bitter endings, endings that can plague the parties to these affairs for many a year, even in some cases for a life time.  On the other hand, I think we all know that there are love affairs that last for a life time at least in the sense of evolving into marriage and domesticity or just domesticity.

As for Warwick University (re)considering its stance in the wake of the romance between the law professor Istvan Pogany, 57, and a mature student in her 30s, the dankprofessor asks what is there to reconsider?

Warwick’s present stance is reflected in their statement-
“We are mindful that the people involved are both adults and the university has to take this into account in the way it responds both to the situation itself, and also to enquiries about that situation.”

Yes, they are adults and consenting adults.  The parties to this relationship I am sure have many regrets.  But Warwick should have no regrets.  They have no responsibility for a student and professor who are both adults and choose to have an affair.  If they should assume responsibility and develop more than a laissez faire policy on student professor consensual relationships then they will open
up a Pandora’s box for regulating the intimate lives of their constituents and subjecting themselves to a plethora of lawsuits.  Such represents the American away and hopefully UK universities can avoid going the American way.

Also, it is interesting to note that Warwick in this press report is not treating both parties as adults.  They
name the professor but the student is nameless.  If both are responsible adults, shouldn’t both of their names be employed?

What also irks the dankprofessor is that this story was featured on the blog victimsover18  moderated by
John Heard who devotes his blog to highlighting “the fact that sexual assault and abuse occurs with people over 18 as well as under 18″. 

Of course, Heard is correct that sexual abuse occurs with those over and under 18, but the problem is that Heard adopts the myopic assumption that the “Warwick couple” represents a situation of abuse.  Maybe this assumption to him comes in  the form of a revelation from a Higher Power.  But the dankprofessor speculates that Heard has been inculcated with the American campus feminist anti-sexual agenda, and there is no quick fix for getting beyond said inculcation.

December 10, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, United Kingdom, Warwick University | 2 Comments

   

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