Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

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!

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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

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

1 Comment »

  1. Right on, “Dankprofessor”! Every word you said is *absolutely* true! One of my circa 1980 Millard Fillmore College of Buffalo, New York, instructors, a Ph.D. candidate who reportedly thought that we older, married women were taking up valuable space that young men should occupy, was absolutely *horrid* to us! Further, unbeknown to me, until it was too late, I learned that my second fine arts instructor, who was just completing his M.A. degree, *never* gave an “A” to an older female student, for the *same* reason. Nevertheless, having aced all of my *other* classes, I was *still* on the top of the Dean’s List, *every* semester!

    Comment by Jeanine Rabe | October 21, 2007 | Reply


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