Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

The right to romance

Today’s Boston Globe  has an op ed piece by Paul Abramson “…on how twisted the sexual politics of university life has become.”   Abramson holds said twistedness is most vividly illustrated by the conflating of sexual harassment and consensual relationships, “…under the rules that increasingly hold sway on many university campuses, both relationships – sleazy sexual harassment and true love by consenting adults – are prohibited”.   It is these rules  “…that ignore the rights and liberties of students, and treat both as if they were children. They also represent an assault on one of the most fundamental rights of conscience: the right to choose our relationships.”  In his last paragraph he states- “For many students and professors, the university represents virtually their entire social world. This is where they are likely to meet people, and romance is occasionally the result. If we let universities prohibit consenting adults from falling in love, what will be next? Our ultimate freedom lies in our power to make choices, and a university prohibition that suppresses choice tramples the very nature of freedom itself.”

Unfortunately, as Abramson knows, we have let universities take away this choice by at times advocating that students do not have the capacity to consent and therefore “consent” in this context cannot occur.  In a perverse manner these universities hold that a consenting relationship is a more serious violation of university norms since it is usually held that sex without consent represents sexual assault or rape which is generally held to be a more serious violation  than sexual harassment.  Yes, this framework is twisted; such would be fair to characterize it as perverse.  Of course, such perversity did not suddenly come out of nowhere; it was a product of decade of a feminist onslaught initiated by Billie Dziech in The Lecherous Professor.  Feminist faculty embraced Dziech’s book as the sacred text and with most faculty, both male and female, nodding in agreement, university life ran amok being governed by feminist creed.  Of course, many of the nodders, particularly the male nodders, nodded out of fear, fear that they could be labeled as one of those lecherous professors.  Such is similar to the dynamic of some male heterosexuals who feared that they would be labeled as homosexual so they went along, some times eagerly, with anti-homosexual agendas.

Of course, matters relating to sexuality have been subject to the antics of all sorts of meddlers, people who get a thrill from intruding on the sexual behavior of others.  Sexual meddlers represent a wide spectrum of persons from Linda Tripp to J. Edgar Hoover to Larry Craig, and a great deal of damage to others has resulted from their meddling.  Abramson holds that in a constitutional democracy citizens should be protected from sexual meddlers.  He states:

” If we let universities prohibit consenting adults from falling in love, what will be next? Our ultimate freedom lies in our power to make choices, and a university prohibition that suppresses choice tramples the very nature of freedom itself.”

Abramson holds that the attack on consensual relationships can be mitigated by having strict conflict of interest rules, and advises the student who falls in love with a professor remove oneself from the class. Such removal may be easier said than done. I have difficulty envisioning a student appealing to a dean to drop a class because she is in love with her professor; the typical cynical dean would have trouble not believing that this represents another student attempt to get out of a class after deadlines for withdrawal have passed.  In any case, if the dean allows the student to drop the class, such would represent favoritism that Abramson and myself wish to avoid.  Even more likely the student who appeals in the name of love to be relieved from the class of the beloved would probably find a dean who would be more interested in relieving the beloved of all teaching responsibilities.  And if it was the professor who initiated removal of the student from the class, such would, of course, be a flagrant violation of the student’s right  to be treated as any other student.  So I do not find Abramson’s advice to be good advice.  It would just give more ammunition to administrators who wish to meddle.  My advice is the professor and the student not to do anything which would imply directly or indirectly that the university has any authority of any sort over their relationship.  Once institutional authority is invited into the relationship, the autonomy of the relationship for the two involved people has gone to hell.

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

September 30, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, ivory tower romance, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Grading and Degrading in Higher Education

In my prior posting on attractive students and attracted professors, I did overlook a major point I should have made.  And that is when it comes to the student-professor relationship while in an ongoing class, the point is made over and over again by critical professors that such a situation should not be allowed since it would lead to prejudicial grading, and prejudicial grading should be avoided even if it would involve not allowing the student in the classroom or removing the student from the classroom or having some other prof grade the student.  What irks me about this situation is that the complaining professors overlook other situations that are rife in academe and could lead to the dreaded prejudicial grading.  One such situation is the situation of being physically attracted to a particular student; no one ever advises profs who are attracted to students to not grade these students since the grading may be prejudicial.  Of course, prejudicial feelings also may enter when the prof finds a particular student to be physically repulsive or when a student reminds the professor of a person whom one may have intensely negative or positive feelings. The potentiality of prejudicial grading is hardly ever considered when one may have a friend enrolled in the class, or a friend of a friend enrolled or a child of a friend, etc. etc. I could go go on and on.  My ultimate point here is that opposition to student-prof relationships while the student is enrolled in the profs class is not really about the possibility of prejudicial grading, prejudicial grading is often a smoke screen for opposition to professors being involved sexually/romantically with their students.  It is the sort of reaction one has when some strong taboo has been violated, such as an incest taboo, a feeling of repulsion, a feeling that  the offender has violated us and is not now a part of us.  In higher education, the student-prof relationship is now all too often seen or felt as equivalent to an incest taboo violation.  Such is the reason that there is so little dispassionate discussion of this issue.  Dispassionate discussion cannot take place in the context of hysteria.  And it is those suffering from hysterical thinking that are the major promulgators of these taboos.  Of course most faculty stay essentially on the sidelines, nodding in agreement with those who pornographise student-prof relationships.  Of course, there is much more that can and should be presented about this visceral reaction against student-prof relationships. And such will be forthcoming in future blog postings.

And some ending observations on the potentiality of prejudicial grading whatever the source may be of said potentiality.  Ethically engaged professors in all aspects of their professorial activities should engage in self-inventories, self-questioning about the ethical implications of their work.  Such self-questioning and self-inventory taking should be a sort of a taken for granted process when it comes to grading and evaluating.  Grading students or grading anyone else for that matter is an activity that profs should be ethically invested in.  But in the real world of academia such work, such investment, is almost always held to have little value.  In the academic hiring process, teachers are hired, scholars are hired, writers are hired, researchers are hired but no one is hired because they are accomplished graders!

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

September 24, 2007 Posted by | attractive students, consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, grading, higher education, recusal, sexual politics, student professor dating | 1 Comment

Attractive Students and Attracted Professors

In 2005 Michal Gee an instuctor at Boston University posted on a blog his sexual ideation/fantasies concerning a current female student  who he felt to be extraordinarily beautiful/attractive. As a result of this posting he was terminated by Boston University.  Said posting was removed from the blog but was republished in another blog which went into some detail concerning the firing of Michael Gee.  Eventually the Washington Post reported on this story- “Don’t Blog So Close to Me” by Robert McMillan, July 15, 2005; excerpts follow-

“Gee, a 17-year-veteran of the Boston Herald who left the paper in the spring, was fired this month from a part-time journalism school position at Boston University after sharing inappropriate thoughts about a student on a blog.

“‘Of my six students, one (the smartest, wouldn’t you know it?) is incredibly hot,'” Gee wrote, according to the Associated Press reported . “Gee was fired July 13, according to Bob Zelnick, chairman of BU’s journalism department. Zelnick said the posting violated the trust essential to the student-teacher relationship. Students ‘have to be confident their work will judged impartially’ and not on the basis of their looks, he said.”

Gee posted his comments on July 5th on the sportsjournalists.com blog. The blog’s administrators later removed Gee’s posting. But just because his words are gone doesn’t mean they haven’t been preserved elsewhere… like right here in this column, and over at Boston Sports Media, where blogger David Scott posted them on July 15 so the rest of us could wonder at them: “Gee, Gone. Again“: “Today was my first day teaching course 308/722 at the Boston University Dept. of Jounralis (sic). There are six students, most of whom are probably smarter than me, but they DON’T READ THE PAPER!!! Not the Globe, Times, Herald or Wall Street Journal. I can shame them into reading, I guess, but why are they taking the course if they don’t like to read. But I digress. Now here’s the nub of my issue. Of my six students, one (the smartest, wouldn’t you know it?) is incredibly hot. If you’ve ever been to Israel, she’s got the sloe eyes and bitchin’ bod of the true Sabra. It was all I could do to remember the other five students. I sense danger, Will Robinson.

Gee’s senses were right on. If only he had heeded them.

Scott asked BU about Gee’s remarks on July 12th before writing about them. Here’s his commentary: “What on earth was Gee thinking, when he made these inappropriate comments? Further, what editor would hire a guy who publicly admits to drooling over his student? Even more perplexing was Gee’s response after at least one SJ poster gave this friendly advice: ‘Congrats on the gig and the proximity to a hottie, but be careful. Not with her, but with this site. She or your bosses could Google your name and the university at any point and find this thread. ‘ Even that lucid warning didn’t seem to have an effect on Gee’s libido or his proud postings: ‘Dear Folks: I suppose I should be flattered that many of you think this gorgeous woman who’s half my age would consider having sex with me. Which, if I have any news instincts, she won’t. My problem is losing my focus when I meet her to-die-for eyes.‘”

Holy mackerel! That’s some hot journalism action! And boy, does it spread. Gee’s burying the lede instead kicked it into high gear in the blogosphere.

He can probably forget freelance opportunities at Ms. magazine where the comments on his actions are less than complimentary“.

The Dankprofessor continues-

 Of course, being attracted to ones students is nothing new, publishing them on the web as a blog posting is new!  However, blog posting continues as evidenced by a very recent posting in which the posters are not identifiable.  One such posting follows-

 I once had a VERY pretty woman in one of my classes in LaLaLand (where hotness is de rigeur), and though she wasn’t quite on the level of NFL cheerleader distraction (she was fairly professional in dress and not super-ornamented or made up), she was pretty incredibly lovely. She had a Halle-Berry-without-makeup beauty. And on top of all that, she had…how shall I say this?…a *perfect* rack. And the fit of her clothes emphasized this in a tasteful but nevertheless attention-drawing way.Anyway, I say all of this to demonstrate that I, too, was distracted by her hotness and the perfection of her secondary sexual characteristics. And *that* finally convinced me that “the gaze” is indeed male and that I’ve learned to look at all women, including myself, through that gaze. I thought I had escaped it and reinvented it, but this woman made me realize how much I was kidding myself.

The dankprofessor believes that professors finding themselves attracted to some of their  students is commonplace, attractions which are experienced by both male and female professors, feminist and non-feminist professors.  But what is not commonplace is writing about it; talking about it with selected colleagues is probably more frequent; such was my experience.  What I hold to be universal in academia is a universal formal exclusion of this topic; nothing in the faculty handbook; no formal workshops dealing with the subject.  No guidelines of any sort of how not to be distracted by attractive students; how to avoid differential treatment of attractive students, e.g., how to avoid giving higher grades to attractive students.  Such, of course, is not out of the realm of the possible since social psychological research  has demonstrated over and over again in a multitude of contexts that the beautiful people are treated more favorably than the non-beautiful.  How to avoid such differential treatment in academia?  Might the ethical professor and at the same time the very attracted professor recuse himself from grading to avoid  biased grading?  After all such is what is often mandated for the prof who is dating a student to avoid prejudicial grading, to avoid differential grading based on what is ones psychosexual involvement with a student.  Of course, as I have previously pointed out recusing oneself from grading a student based on an ongoing dating relationship is in itself a form of differential treatment.  And as I think we can agree the ethically engaged prof who refuses to grade students who he or she finds attractive would not be seen as acting from some high ethical ground but rather from some base exhibitionistic level, a level that would be seen as leading to exclusion from the classroom.  So what is an ethical prof to do??


Well, I didn’t get it quite right in this blog on attractive students and attracted professors. I cited a blog in which profs write about having attractive students; I indicated that the profs were not identifiable, such was not the case.  I went back to that blog and clicked the online identity and at least for some of the entries, this led me to their real world identity.  And the quote I had given  in my posting was that of a female prof, not a male prof.

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

September 22, 2007 Posted by | attractive students, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, ivory tower romance, recusal, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Sexual Harassment and Sexual Consent at CSU Sacramento

The State Hornet, CSU Sacramento Student newspaper has some straightforward reportage on a case of alleged sexual harassmentat Cal State U Sacramento.  As described by the alleged victim, the professor engaged in unwanted sexual attention directed toward student Judy Aguilar  The student is suing CSU Sacramento and the Board of Trustees of the California State University system.  What makes this story disturbing is that toward the end of the article there becomes a change in focus, the focus being on consensual relationships.

The person engaging in this detour was administrator Peter Lau who took the initiative to state that at CSUS there can be no such thing as a consensual relationship between a student and a professor.  In his terms, such is the case since differential power precludes consent.  Such reflects the hardcore feminist principle that functions to strip individuals of the ability to consent. Even though both parties mayfeel that their long-term loving relationship is consensual, such does not matter to Peter Lau, their relationship becomes one of sexual assault.  No consent therefore the situation is one of assault.  Of course, this is assault on the senses of anyone who values civil liberties and the value of privacy.  However, unfortunately all too many persons  buy into this perspective since it is the presented in the context of discussing sexual harassment. The Hornet article with the help of Lau ends up confounding sexual harassment and sexual consent, and it is on that note that the article ends.

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

September 15, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, csu sacramento, sexual harassment, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Dating bans in the corporate world

As I have pointed out in previous posts those advocating student-professor dating bans often cite the corporate world as the ideal in their attempt to justify said bans.  Why I have asked should universities invoke the corporate model?  Of course, when it comes to the corporate world all too often their so-called corporate ethics are honored in name only.  Such is definitely the case when business or corporate dating bans are invoked.  Such bans will not work as illustrated in this article, nor should we want them to work.  Corporate employees in general terms should have a right to privacy and freedom of association.  If we can have Coach Jackson and VP Jeanne Buss of the LA Lakers having a “public” dating relationship, why shouldn’t this also apply to line employees?Excerpts from

Love & Company: Workplace Romances Happen, but First Consider the Pitfalls
Source: San Jose Mercury News
Date: 9/9/2007
Sep. 9–When work so dominates the lives of employees that some are forced to catnap under their desks, is it any wonder that love is blooming among the cubicles?Corporate culture has long frowned upon co-workers dating, but as Americans work longer hours, many employees are encountering their new squeeze by the water cooler or copy machine. A 2004 Glamour magazine and lawyers.com survey of 1,747 employees found that 41 percent of Americans between 25 and 40 have engaged in an office romance.Singles are romantically pursuing one another not just in the office but in almost every work environment, even though dating a colleague has its own set of risks and issues.

Nicole Valdez, 29, a bartender at Seven restaurant in San Jose, says she never had any intention of going out with a co-worker — least of all, her boss — when she was hired in 2003. After a few months on the job, a romance was born. Today, she calls her employer, Seven co-owner and chef Curtis Valdez, her husband.

“It’s not something you plan to do,” says Nicole, who married Curtis in June. “It just happens. You never know where you’re going to meet the right person.”

To ensure that work remains the top priority of employees, many companies discourage such intimate fraternizing, and many have dating policies that prohibit a supervisor from going out with a subordinate.

“You shouldn’t use your time in the workplace to facilitate developing a personal relationship,” says couples therapist Ian Kerner, author of “DSI: Date Scene Investigation” (Harper Collins, 2006) “Companies often hold social events, and it’s great to flirt a little with somebody, but you have to respect that this is still a work environment.”  As people become increasingly defined by their work, and as careers take precedence over personal lives, co-workers are going to turn to one another for support — or more, says author Kerner.

The reasons for attraction are obvious: The workplace is often filled with like-minded people sharing common goals and presenting their best side in a professional arena. As the likes of Microsoft founder Bill Gates learned with employee and future wife Melinda French, romantic feelings happen.

“Meeting people via work is only natural,” Kerner says. “People are recognizing that work is a dynamic, vibrant environment for this.”

Clarice Simmons, 41, an Advanced Micro Devices relationship manager, knew of the risks in dating a co-worker when she began seeing a field application engineer named Phil in 1993.

Simmons had witnessed a married regional manager’s downfall when news of his affair with a saleswoman became public through the office grapevine. After co-workers complained about the lovebirds’ behavior, his supervisor confronted him. He denied the relationship. When they uncovered his lie, they transferred him to another office.

“My policy has been to try to keep personal things outside of the workplace because it’s just distracting,” says Simmons, who married Phil in 1994. “So when we decided to get engaged and move in with each other, we told my manager first. He was really happy for us, almost like a fatherly figure.”

But keeping a secret, especially in a bustling office, is not always easy. Therapist Kerner describes a couple he knew, a woman and her male subordinate, who kept their relationship on the down-low at their pet-friendly office.

When she brought her poodle to work, the pooch, normally a miser with its affections, was openly friendly toward the man she was secretly dating.

“The poodle gave it away,” Kerner says. “Remember that there is always going to be something that someone might observe.” …

To see more of the San Jose Mercury News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.mercurynews.com.

Copyright (c) 2007, San Jose Mercury News, Calif.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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Copyright 2007 San Jose Mercury News

This material is published under license from the publisher through YellowBrix, Alexandria, Virginia. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to Yello

September 11, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, corporate dating bans, sexual politics | Leave a comment

Guest commentary by John Bonnell

I am honored that Professor John Bonnell has sent us this post sharing his perspective on sexual harassment in contemporary academe.  I particularly welcome guest commentaries during this time when I am traveling and  have a minimal amount of time to be on on the computer.

Jon Bonnell writes-

     A few reflections upon Brian McFillen’s assumption, in the blogpost for
September 7, that “Things seem to have improved since I entered college in
the late 90s, as universities have gotten a grip on what constitutes sexual
harassment and what does not.”  If my own experience is representative,
McFillen’s view must be modified with the understanding that colleges may
have improved their grip, but what they wield with that grip is a cudgel. 
That is to say, they unscrupulously and, one must say, eagerly flail
targeted instructors and professors with charges of “sexual harassment,” no
matter how farfetched or simply false these charges may be.

     I have been subjected to four kangaroo-court like “investigations,”
beginning in 1998.  In every instance, some student disliked my diction or
my anecdotes, and claimed as a consequence that I had no right to be
teaching college English.  None of the objectionable terminology was ever
directed to or against a specific student.  (For example, in 2003 I was
suspended from teaching without pay for examining James Joyce’s story “The
Boarding House” in a fashion I have used for over three decades.  I used the
word “bitch” to imaginatively fill in an unspecified “free allusion” made by
a party-attending character with regard to a nineteen year old sister of
another party-person.  A female student complained.  The college accused me
of “sexual harassment” and conducted an “investigation.”  Note that the
student did not accuse me of “sexual harassment;” Macomb Community College
did!  I was found “guilty” of employing language that was inherently
demeaning to and harassing of any woman.  No woman should ever have to hear
what I might say in Anglo-Saxon, the college pontificated.  Especially the
word “bitch.”  The faculty union wholly supported the college’s charge and
punishment.)  The College has learned that its blatant disregard for law and
for the meaning of the phrase “sexual harassment” will be supported not only
by the majority of faculty but by the federal judiciary, and all inferior
tribunals.  And, as I have learned, simply to be accused of “sexual
harassment” is already sufficient proof of guilt.  The College has learned
this, too, and does not hesitate to foster such deception.

     Perhaps Brian McFillen’s erroneous assumption is promoted by another
aspect of these curious developments.  The College (as do other
institutions?) suppresses all public discussion of such complaints,
“investigations,” charges, and punishments.  It does this because to be a
“victim” of “sexual harassment” is comparable to being a victim of rape, and
all such victims are entitled to strictest confidence and anonymity.  When I
was suspended in 2004 for utilizing a personal anecdote to illustrate panic,
my own panic, an illustration that the College deemed was sufficiently
“sexual” to constitute “harassment,” the College successfully prevailed upon
the American Association of Arbitrators to NOT publish the arbitrator’s
finding, even though the “victim’s” name did not appear in the decision. 
(By the bye, the College had punished me a few years earlier, in part, for
using the same anecdote, but the objection then was my employment of the
Anglo-Saxon “balls” instead of the proper Latin, “testicles.”  In 2004, the
College decided the anecdote itself was “harassing,” regardless of the
diction.  A dramatic illustration, incidentally, of Justice Harlan’s correct
assertion in 1971 [see COHEN v. CALIFORNIA, U.S.. SUP. CRT., the famous
“Fuck the Draft” case] that a government which stooped to banning words will
soon be banishing ideas.  Exactly my experience.  A further curiosity in
this assault on my “academic freedom” was the fact that the complaining
“victim” placed this anecdote THIRD in her list of objections, holding
accounts of a policeman who killed himself with his own revolver while
“playing” Russian roulette and of a rooster beheaded in 1947 in Colorado-a
fowl who subsequently refused to die-as more disturbing.  But the College
could construe no sex in her first disaffections.  To the College’s credit,
it did not do in 2004 what it did in 2003.  It did not telephone dozens of
my students to discern whether I simulated coital thrusts against my desk;
whether I “flipped off” all the students in my class; whether I labeled the
women in the class as “cunts.”  Finding no support for these conjectures
evidently chilled the College’s enthusiasm in subsequent “investigations.”)

     Maybe the “disinfectant of sunshine” is not so successfully thwarted on
other campuses as it is on mine.  (When I wrote, in 2005, to Attorney
General Micael Cox, asking him to point out to the College its perversion of
F.E.R.P.A. and other federal regulations on privacy, he wrote back to say
the State of Michigan has no interest in my “private” dispute with the
College.)  Maybe McFillens’ sanguine conclusion is justified elsewhere in
the nation.  But I’d bet the other way.  One of the attorneys active in the
2003 investigations of my treatment of Joyce has since been named a Dean at
the third largest university in Michigan.  In 1998, when Macomb College
began its witch hunt of my person, it retained only one attorney, part time,
to look after its interests.  Now it has an entire Office of the General
Counsel, with at least a half dozen full time attorneys diligently
“defending” the College.  The proliferation of lawyers in the lucrative
halls of academe promises more bad news for believers in authentic
individual rights and freedoms.  Civil libertarian counsel Harvey
Silverglate has described college campuses as the most unfree places in
America.  I can find no reason to disagree.

John Bonnell
Professor of English, when not debarred by bogus charges of “sexual

September 11, 2007 Posted by | academic freedom, higher education, John Bonnell, sexual harassment, sexual politics | 3 Comments

The Duke case and beyond

OK, I am not leaving until tomorrow so I can’t resist sending out this post.

Mike Nifong was found guilty in the Duke U. so called rape case and is now serving 1 day in jail.  In their op ed piece, Guilty in the Duke Case, Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson scour former district attorney Nifong, but also in general terms scour the press which bought into Nyfong’s rape mythology. Also scoured are Duke President Richard Brodhead and Duke faculty which in almost universal terms supported  said mythology.  As the columnists state: “This shameful conduct was rooted in a broader trend toward subordination of facts and evidence to faith-based ideological posturing.  Worse, the ascendant ideology, especially in academia, is an obsession with the fantasy that oppression of minorities and women by ‘privileged’ white men remains rampant in America.  Its crude stereotyping of white men, , especially athletes, resembles old fashion racism and sexism.”

In other words, at Duke and most other American Universities the presumption is one of guilt when the person charged is a white male and the alleged victim is a female.  Do note that the Duke president Richard Brodhead took many punitive actions against members of the Lacrosse team.  Given that Brodhead did not violate any academic norms regarding his unbecoming conduct, he remains in good standing.  Such is consistent  with my prior assertions that professors charged with sexual harassment are de facto presumed guilty and treated as  such.  Such is also very consistent with what has become axiomatic among too many academics that consensual student-prof relationships are never consensual and always involve a predatory professor and a female victim even when the so-called victim protests that she is not a victim.  If she be a victim, said victimhood has been perpetrated by the campus powers that be  who have taken away her right to consent.

Also, let us not forget that the prime mover other than Nifong was the alleged victim.  She has not been charged with making a false accusation or charged with any other charge.  It would appear to me that the civil authorities are following the academic model here which is when  a charge made by a female student is dropped  because it is found to have no merit, it is generally simply forgotten by campus authorities, held to be too trivial to initiate  any formal proceedings.  However, if the charged male prof had spoken out criticizing the one who had charged him, said prof would face the probability of being charged with sexual harassment for speaking out. So much for academic freedom, for academic justice.

And for a review of the new book on the Duke case by Taylor and Johnson, see Abigail Thernstrom’s review on the wsj opinion blog.

I know at least one reader of this blog who might regard me as being a hypocrite since I have de facto assumed Larry Craig’s guilt.  I am not going to review the whole Craig scenario except to state that it was Craig who facilitated a presumption of guilt when he pled guilty to a lesser charge.  His attempt to  have that guilty plea vetoed will not change the fact that he cannot undo the power of his original plea. The 13th juror will continue to hold him guilty as charged.

September 8, 2007 Posted by | Duke University, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment


Friends, viewers and confreres of all persuasions, although I love this blogging thing, I am going to have to take somewhat of a hiatus.  I am going to be traveling returning to our cozy village in early October.  Although, I will have my computer with me, as some of you know, I need all sorts of paraphernelia to type on a computer, I cannot sit and type, I may be able to write some short missives and if my 2 back operations really have paid off, I may be able to write a few longer ones.  In any case, upon my full return to the blog,  I guarantee that you will be reading some very interesting posts.  And if any of you live in the area of Morehead City, NC, drop me an email, and maybe we can get together for coffee and conversation.  And last, but not least, blog friends,  do become unhibited as to putting comments in response to posts; I will value all comments, including all dissenting comments.  Anonymous comments are, of course, permitted.

Barry aka the dankprofessor

September 7, 2007 Posted by | hiatus, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Larry Craig as Sexual Freedom Fighter

Marty Klein writes an open letter to Senator Craig on his blog calling on Craig to extend himself beyond his personal situation and to reach out to others who have been victims of sexual repression and to advocate against repression of sexual choice, of consensual sex.  Marty advocates this position in the hope that Craig can now identify with others who have been victims of sexual repression, victims of sting operations, and I would also expand it to include students and professors who have been persecuted for their consensual relationships.  I wonder if it is not too far off in the future that academe may employ stings in the form of campus police posing as female students to catch the so-called lecherous professor.

In any case, Marty engages in his wishful thinking knowing that it is wishful and unlikely to occur.  To believe that Craig would  publicly decloset himself and throw off the Republican and Christian values cloak is unlikely,  very unlikely given that Craig’s public stance remains that he has never had an interest in homosexuality.  If Craig does come out of the closet and advocates a sexual freedom agenda, he would have to deal with the Republican and their Christian value cohort viewing him not simply as a sexual deviant but an enemy of the state.  But, of course, anything is possible, if a Klu Klux Klan member can become an advocate of racial equality then maybe in my fantasy thinking/nightmares Larry Craig may become the Angela Davis of the 2000s, advocating for freedom and getting a UC professorship; of course, he would first get a doctorate from UC and maybe do a little blogging as well.

September 7, 2007 Posted by | Larry Craig, sexual politics | Leave a comment

U of Colorado lawsuit reinstated

U of Colorado lawsuit dealing with sexual assault has been reinstated.

September 7, 2007 Posted by | sexual politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Student-prof dating at Indiana U and beyond

Been looking for some  recent student commentaries on professor-student dating and I found a column in the Indiana Daily Student entitled Academy of Love by Brian Mcfillen*.  Following are some excerpts from the column interspersed with observations from the dankprofessor which are preceded with—

“I can say this: I think academia honors bans against professor-student relationships more in theory than in practice, because if professors and students couldn’t hook up, the professorate would go extinct.”

—Brian does overstate. But I think I get his point that student-prof relationships are commonplace even at Indiana U, home of the Kinsey Institute.

“Now, I think we can almost all agree that dating a student while he or she is in your class is inappropriate – but what about students not in your class, but with whom you might have to otherwise professionally interact? When I think of all the seemingly happily married couples that I know who started out as faculty advisor and graduate student advisee, the line starts to blur.

—Yes, the line is very blurry.  Today’s ex-student may become your student tomorrow.  Today’s non-student may becomes tomorrow’s student.  Of course, Brian is incorrect when he states that I think we can all agree  that dating a student in ones class is inappropriate.  I disagree.  It should be incumbent  upon Brian and others to present their reasons for abridging this freedom of association.  The university is not the military and not the corporation. I say this because many want to implement a corporate or military model and apply it to the university. Interestingly as universities have become more corporate, fraternization bans have become more common.  Brian is correct about student-professor couples marrying and even being happily married, and even unhappily married and even having children who grow up to be students and then become professors and some even may become bloggers.  On the other hand, great former profs from Indiana U, such as Kinsey, may simply hook up with some favorite students.  Just think if Indiana U had fraternization bans when Kinsey was there, we may never had a Kinsey Report or a Kinsey Institute.

“Look at it this way: most academics’ social universes could be bound in a nutshell and within that nutshell, many of the individuals are already married. So, if you’re still single upon entering academia, you really feel the pinch. And, then you put professors with students who have common interests. For example, as shocking as it might sound, both political science professors and political science majors tend to be very interested in politics. The rules seek to discourage any attractions that develop. It’s like academia is a dating agency in the ironic punishments division of Hell.

—Well stated Brian, you got it right.  I would only add that it’s like the academia becoming a monastery with vows of celibacy, but not  the most hellish vow for professor which would be the vow of silence.

“Things seem to have improved since I entered college in the late 90s, as universities have gotten a grip on what constitutes sexual harassment and what does not. Still, reading through IU’s Handbook for Student Academic Appointees, a lot of vagueness remains. While universities should protect students from abusive professors, they can’t really expect academics to follow the famous quote from “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.” You know the scene I mean.

“No time for love, Dr. Jones.”

—I don’t think that the universities have gotten a grip on the sexual harassment thing; ambiguity still remains, nothing has changed except maybe the rhetoric defending sh rules.  The chilly climate is quite predominant in many universities. By chilly climate, I mean the atmosphere in which profs are advised/warned as to what they may say in the classroom.  The only safe way out is to say little or nothing, or to read direct from the non-sexist boring text, or to take the hellish vow of silence and have the TAs do all the talking/lecturing/professing.

*Sorry about the link, article is from 8/29, go to the Indiana idnews site, put in as a search term- Brian McFillen

September 6, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, Indiana University, ivory tower romance, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | 1 Comment

A prayer for Larry Craig from James Mcgreevey

A PRAYER FOR LARRY CRAIG by James McGreevey appeared in yesterday’s Washington Post.  Excellent narrative about growing up with homosexual attractions  and how such attractions were structured in the context of being in the closet.

September 4, 2007 Posted by | Larry Craig, sexual identity, sexual politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Speaking out on engaging in homosexuality but not gay

  Dankprofessor comments follow this emailRestroom Sex

August 28th, 2007

I’m in the middle of cutting Ozark Mtn. Exit 8: Mens Room III as the latest political public restroom sex scandal hits. Of course, this case isn’t really about sex, it’s about hypocricy. Here are the thoughts of someone on a political site (hufffingtonpost.com) that hit the nail squarely on the head:
Craig is not “gay”. By every definition of society, Craig is straight. This is a straight man caught soliciting sex in a public place. PERIOD. Let’s not turn him into a member of a misunderstood, oppressed minority. Craig is obviously someone who is, IN SOME MEASURE, attracted to homosexual sex. That doesn’t make him gay, anymore than my occasional sexual attraction to a female makes me “straight.” I don’t live a straight life nor do I want to. Craig, like McGreevy and Haggard, is a straight man. These men are married with children living with a woman. That sounds pretty straight to me. What Craig is indulging in is not entirely uncommon behavior for straight men, who ever once in a while would like a little homo action.Gay is a personal identity and a set of social and personal choices. What’s confusing everyone is the conflation of the word “gay” with the behavior of “homosexuality.” The assumption being that simply because someone engages in homosexual behavior then therefore he MUST BE GAY! WRONG!  Most homosexual behavior, in human populations, the world over, and throughout history, has been and is engaged in by people who are otherwise partnered with someone of the opposite sex. The boundary between homo/hetero states of mind is fluid and amorphous.

Let’s beat the crap out of Craig for his hypocrisy but let’s not insult and besmirch the reputation and moral integrity of thousands of gay men by associating Craig’s behavior with being GAY. Craig is STRAIGHT.


This was emailed to me; authorship unknown; and has apparently been circulated via email since 8/28. The writer makes the point in strong terms that most people who engage in homosexual behavior do not consider themselves to be gay. This was the major point I made in my prior posting, a point that has been hard to fathom by the mainstream press and society.  Why?  It should not be surprising that people who engage in homosexuality and do not consider themselves gay will not have a proclivity to write about it or publicly indicate that such is their sexual orientation.  They are the closeted, and understandably the press has more available  to them self-identified gay men who are free to write and be quoted as gay men on whatever issue.  In terms of the student-professor issue, the problem of communication is similar; the campus puritans have driven the fraternizers underground, and it is few professors and even ex-professors and students and ex-students  who are willing to inform others publicly of their realities.  Their fears and their timidity incapacitate them. 

September 4, 2007 Posted by | homosexual, Larry Craig, sexual identity, sexual politics | Leave a comment

Larry Craig and Sexual Identity

Larry Craig’s affirmation  “I am not gay! I have never been gay!” to reporters at his press conference was taken by many with a grain of salt- couldn’t be true if he was hanging around restrooms engaging in hand signals with an undercover vice officer.  But such could be true since many men, possibly the majority of such men who hang around  restrooms for sex with other men do not consider themselves as gay.  If reporters had asked Craig if he engaged in homosexual acts in restrooms, they may have been asking Craig to respond to a more difficult question to answer truthfully. In my work as well as just about all sex researchers, it has been found over and over again that sexual identity and sexual behavior are not necessarily  consonant. Manipulating ones sexual identity to be consonant with ones publicly presented self is not at all exceptional.  The fact that ones sexual behavior is at times dissonant with ones sexual identity can be minimized.  The sociologist Edwin Lemert referred to this process as remaining in the primary stage of deviance, not seeing ones behavior as impacting on ones self as being a deviant or stigmatized person.  For Lemert what facilitates the transition to secondary deviance, the embracing of a stigmatizing identity, is the public labeling of the person; of course, Craig has gone thru such a public labeling, and it is rather safe for one to assume that he was thrown into a major identity crisis as well as a crisis of how he would now engage in a public presentation of self.

What I also found surprising in reference to Craig’s affirming that he was not gay was the implicit assumption by the public media that one was either gay or heterosexual, that bisexuality was not even considered as a possibility.  It is difficult for me to believe that the sophisticated media are so unsophisticated to assume that sexual behavior and sexual identity are always dichotomous.  After doing a blog search, I did find one blogger, Skeeter Sanders, who gave serious consideration to this possibility. Sanders is amazed, and I share that amazement, that  mainstream society appears incapable of acknowledging that bisexuals exist.  Maybe this reflects a chasm between mainstream society and youth culture; many youths embrace bisexuality as being hip and in.  In the mainstream it appears  it is simply out. 

I am also amazed that Sanders made some preposterous remarks in his blog arguing that Craig could not be gay since a man in his terms who was really gay would not marry a woman,and could not father children as Craig fathered three children.  Sanders ends up in never never land when he refuses to consider the possibility of gay men passing as straight, yes even passing as straight with their wives. Such often occurs via homosexual ideation during heterosexual intercourse.  Straight men often engage in this process in prison  by engaging in heterosexual ideation while having sex with other men.  And it is sexual ideation that may be the most significant clue as to ones sexual orientation.  The key question is what one thinks about and/or looks at during masturbation, not whether one is heterosexually married.  Of course, marriage to a woman by a man who was only attracted to men was often in the past the only viable alternative.  If one goes back 100 or so years, the primary sexual identities available at that time in the United States were normal or abnormal.  Heterosexual marriage was the primary way for all men to escape the abnormal label. So in a bizarre way the norm for the so-called abnormal was to engage in normal marriage with normal unsuspecting women.

September 4, 2007 Posted by | Larry Craig, Senator Craig, sexual identity, sexual politics | 1 Comment

Toe Tapping and the restless leg syndrome.

The more I read about the Senator Craig case, the clearer it becomes that Craig could have gotten away with it legally since legally he should have been able to walk, there simply was nothing there if Craig chose to argue that there was nothing. But instead he pleas guilty to a lesser charge, disorderly conduct, and said charge had no relation to the original charge. In no way  could it be demonstrated that Craig had engaged in any form of disorderly conduct.   Of course, a fallacious argument could be bought by some that in the name of protecting men from unwanted solicitation, any means would be OK.  Such of course could be viewed as a subset of the culture of comfort that has been promulgated on American university campuses- an unwanted look, a stare, using the wrong epithet- is enought to warrant a sexual harassment charge in the context of protecting fragile female egos. But such would not be applicable to the Craig case since unwilling others, the naive and/or fragile had no idea as to what is going on; if  the code is truly arcane then knowing nothing means perceiving toilet toe tapping as just another case of restless leg syndrome.  In any case, the good senator went looking for sex in all the wrong places while wrapping himself in a breastplate of righteousness, and he has paid the price for his moral turpitude.

If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor.

September 4, 2007 Posted by | Senator Craig, sexual politics, sexual rights, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Senator Craig as a toe tapping menace?

Best article the dankprofessor has seen on the arrest of Senator Craig.

DANKPROFESSOR’s take on the article-

Mac Donald had an excellent incorporation of  Laud Humphrey’s work in providing perspective on Craig and the breastplate of righteousness and the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to live a secret life.  Such is ironic, one engages in ‘public’ sex to preserve one’s secrecy.  Such are the sort of dilemmas faced by those who are sexually closeted.  It should be apparent why there has been so much emphasis by the gay movement to come out of the closet and those who view such coming out as a form of flaunting meriting stigmatization.  Of course, if the Senator did not closet himself he would not have been the senator from Idaho advocating against gay marriage; instead he may have been a “free” gay man minimizing any discrepancy between private self and public self.  And, of course, taking vice officers away from policing  of  unobtrusive consensual sex would be a step in the right direction.  However, on our university campuses, we have quasi vice officers posing as university administrators policing the private lives of students and professors who are involved in  sexual relationships.  Now almost all professors who are involved or who have been involved in such relationships are in the closet- often living in fear that they will be exposed by campus informants and various and sundry academic moral zealots, and attempting to protect themselves at times by wrapping themselves in a moral breastplate of righteousness.  


September 2, 2007 Posted by | Senator Craig, sexual politics, sexual rights | 1 Comment

Academy of Love

Academy of Love, article from Indiana Daily Student

September 1, 2007 Posted by | fraternization, higher education, ivory tower romance | Leave a comment

Recusing and grading

In the previous posting on recusing, I responded to the comments

of an anonymous other.  He has invoked the option to respond to

my comments; his response follows.  I will give a relatively brief

response after his comment.

“A big, big problem with blogs is that it
is virtually never possible to be short and that replies never end. 
Even a short published note can only garner a published reply if a
gatekeeper cannot foresee good answers to the reply.

In this instance, Professor Dank did not interpret recusal as I
would–or as anyone would–and so he ends up with knocking down a
nonsensical position that, as he notes, no one in the academy actually

In a legal or quasi-legal setting, recusal is a formal action, often
announced with an opinion, and with some other authority making the
decision as to the replacement judge.

In the ethical setting, recusal is an inaction, not announced, and not
handed over to come campus authority.  The professor simply goes to a
trusted colleague who grades like he does and asks–informally–for an
opinion; that opinion becomes the student’s grade.  This type of thing
happens all the time in academe for many reasons, although the formal
variety does not and yes would only create problems and conflicts.

Let me respond to a few select remarks within Professor Dank’s text:

“Of course, the professor should have foreseen the definite possibility
that he or she would be unable to dispassionately grade a student who
he or she is romantically involved with.  If  this is the case, such
should have been communicated ahead of time to the student and if such
involvement occurs then the student would be treated differentially and
would not have the  same grader as all the other students have in
class.   Recusal in this sort of situation does not appear to me to be
an honorable way to acquit oneself; such is not honorable since the
relationship is violated and as well as the student.”

No; the relationship is not violated; the colleague need not even be
told why his opinion is being sought.  Nor is the student
violated–unless Professor Dank feels uniquely situated as *the* Grader
par excellence.  There are many equally competent faculty members, are
there not?  Moreover, I am sure this was foreseen and discussed with
the student in *this* case.  My point was that since recusal is needed
when things are not foreseen or are not foreseeable, it cannot be right
that it is *per se* unethical to recuse one’s self.

“One simply does not unilaterally exile a student into never-never

Why does Professor Dank consider a Grader other than himself a form of
exile?  And why are all other faculty “never-never land”?  The student
stays in the class, takes the test with the class; the grading is not
done in-class anyway.  Where does exile come in?

“If this is to be done, the student-professor relationship is no longer
a private one and will end up being subsumed under the mantel of
insitutional authority.  If there is differential treatment, it should
of the last resort and is indicative that the professor is now in deep
trouble as well as the student.”

Here, the formal version of recusal is assumed.  And, the deep trouble
may simply be a heated romance.

“In addition, it does become relevant that recusal from grading in a
university is almost unheard of.  Of course, in legal situations
recusal is frequently employed.  In my 35 years of university teaching
I never heard of a situation of recusal occurring or being
contemplated.  Also, in said 35 years, I cannot recollect being privy
to any discussion of the issue, nor receiving any official university
notifications about the issue.  Is the recusal process referred to in
Faculty Handbooks?”

What I meant is not a “process” and would never be in a Book of

“It  wasn’t easy to give a poor grade to students who I liked, but such
was the case.”

There is equal alarm at a self-imposed backlash resulting in a harsher
grade.  A neutral arbiter (not “arbitrator”, the legal equivalent) is
often best.


Albeit a brief response.  I did not consider myself THE grader or a star grader or an outstanding grader.  I did think of myself as a dispassionate grader.  To be honest, I did not become a professor because of the grading component, because of my love of grading or because I wanted to do to others what had been done to me over and over again.   I do not know if my former colleagues were more competent or less competent graders than myself.  Grading was simply not discussed.  Hiring committees did not seek out candidates who were outstanding graders.  The fact of the matter is that in higher ed, students are interested in grading and seek out those who they consider to be “outstanding” graders.  The chasm between students and professors as to the importance of grading is huge.

In any case, I never liked to grade students.  I wish I could have farmed out grading to others, such as TAs or grading machines.  But I could not do this since I was the one who taught my students, I had to be the one to grade my students.  I knew what happened in the class better than any other potential grader; I was there all the time, and there was no one who could be interchangeable with me.  In the first session of most of my classes, I told my students that if you want to get a poor grade do not come to class regularly; you are conning yourself if you think otherwise.  I would have been conning myself and my students if I had a professor grade any of my students who had not attended all of my class lectures. 

My respondent writes of grading exams and one grader being equal to another. His concerns are just not germane to my situation which was in part outlined above.  I generally did not give exams, and when I did, in-class material was a major component of the exam.  I could not ask a colleague to grade such an exam.  Grades were to a significant degree based on papers and other projects.  Asking another prof to grade  a particular student would not work; one could only grade what one was familiar with.  Asking a colleague I should not be asking to do all this work while giving no reason why this student merits such special attention is other worldly.  By my own standards, I could not give a student special attention since I was committed to not having any dating relationship impact on the class; the relationship had nothing to do with the class.  My special other may be special in many ways, but she is not a special student.  Treating her as a special student would be a betrayal of my ethics.  Professors are entitled to a private life free of institutional surveillance.  Subjecting ones significant other to special treatment in class subverts privacy and invites institutional surveillance.

Enough said.

September 1, 2007 Posted by | grading, recusal | Leave a comment

Professor David Cass and the University of Pennsylvania

David Cass, University of Pennsylvania economics professor is one of the very few professors who has publicly defended his rights to privacy and association in the context of his being persecuted by the UPENN administration for having engaged in a consensual relationship with a former student, Claudia Stachel.  Claudia Stachel publicly joined Dave Cass in protesting the actions of the UPENN administration.

This post will contain a link to the article I wrote on David Cass in the 1990s; comments from Dave which were emailed to me today, August 31, 2007.  And a link to material on Dave’s website; the material is of great value to those seriously interested in campus sexual and political correctness; Dave also includes some of his own satirical material on this episode.

Article on the Cass case by the Dankprofessor. 

Comment from David Cass– 

My professional qualifications can be gleaned from my Website1, my ethicalprinciples (in part) inferred from what follows. The imbroglio I was involved inwith Penn’s foolishly politically correct administration in the mid-nineties — what my co-conspirator Claudia Stachel and I early on labelled the “Fondling Affair” —is accurately recounted in Barry’s piece, which is linked above. My initial reaction to this incredible episode, as well as its denouement also appear on my Website.2

During the same year a typical ban of certain liaisons (sic, for those of politically correct moral persuasion) in academia was proposed in the Penn Faculty Senate, and then adopted by vote of the faculty. I’ve always liked my satiricalcomment on the proposed ban, which is linked below. This despite the fact that Daphne Patai may be the only one (besides me) to read and enjoy it; I hope you will too.

1See, especially, the section Curriculum Vitae.

2See “On Women” and “Follow-up …” (this last stuff needs better labelling, say, “The Outcome of the Fondling Affair”), respectively, in the section Miscellaneous Links.

Proposed ban followed by comments from Dave Cass.

September 1, 2007 Posted by | David Cass, university of pennsylvania | 2 Comments


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