Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

More on Middlebury College

More needs to be said about the article by Tracy Himmel-Isham and Jon Isham advocating a ban on consensual student professor romantic relationships at Middlebury College.  The writers present a myriad of negative effects which supposedly occur on campuses without  a consensual relationship policy. Such negative effects include an undermining of trust in the classroom, an undermining of parental faith in the integrity of the College and a demeaning of the professional reputation of the faculty.  Given the writers’ vision of a college or university without a consensual relationships policy, few students and faculty would find such an environment to be hospitable to the teaching and learning enterprise.

But here is the nub of the problem for Himmel-Isham and Isham, Middlebury College has been a college for over 200 years without a consensual relationships policy, and as far as I know Middlebury has not suffered any of the negative effects that the authors outlined in their article.  If what they profess is true, all the accolades that have been given to Middlebury College over the decades and centuries is just hype; all the goods words simply represent a thin veneer protecting naïve others from seeing Middlebury College as a den of iniquity.  However, I do not believe that Middlebury is a den of iniquity.  What the dankprofessor believes is that the writing of Himmel-Isham and Isham is pure hype; that the authors ignore the history and culture of Middlebury in their usage of scare techniques in order to recreate Middlebury College.

Of course, the dankprofessor cannot help but speculate as to what led to these two writers to be outspoken on this issue at this time.  Might they have been spurred on by “outsiders” who wish to change Middlebury into being a sexual regulating college?   The writers published their article in October 2007 and in September 2007 the Middlebury community was preached to by Ann Lane, University of Virginia Women’s Studies professor, who has crisscrossed America spreading her vision of what universities like Middlebury should do to save their students from so-called predatory and sexually obsessed professors.

Make no mistake about it Ann Lane is a zealot when it comes to having her vision of student professor relationships as being the one true vision.  Such zealotry is apparent in the writing of Himmel-Isham and Isham.  Such zealotry apparently led these authors to become true believers and forget about the illustrious 200 year history of Middlebury without any Lane approved policy. Such are my speculations.  Maybe these two writers have a history of being outspoken on this issue.

Maybe they opposed and/or boycotted the 2007 Middlebury commencement address given by our former president, William Jefferson Clinton who as we know engaged in a president-intern sexual tryst with Monica Lewinsky.  Maybe it is and was their belief that great presidents and great professors simply are no longer great if they engage in this genre of relationship and merit impeachment as president or termination as professor.  Fortunately, Middlebury did not take this position and honored President Clinton by inviting him to be the keynote speaker for the 2007 commencement.

And the invitation to Clinton for the 2007 commencement speaker was preceded by Rudy Giuliani as the keynote speaker for the 2005 Middlebury commencement.  So the invitation to Clinton cannot be written off as being idiosyncratic.  For Middlebury, greatness in public life cannot be written off by private conduct, sexual or otherwise.  Of course, Giuliani’s sexual escapades when he was the mayor of NYC were not exactly private, publicly appearing as a married man with his mistress and then publicly announcing he was divorcing his wife in a news conference prior to even telling his wife of the impending divorce.  Of course, sexual politics do make strange bedfellows as indicated by the recent endorsement of Rudy Giuliani by Pat Robertson.  But the sexual political reality at Middlebury until recently has not been strange; commencement invitations are extended to Clinton and Giuliani, not to Pat Robertson or persons of the genre of former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr.  What is strange is Middlebury not simply extending an invitation to Ann Lane, but the apparent willingness of so many persons in the Middlebury community buying into the sexual politics of Ann Lane.

In any case, the bottom line in regards to  the present issue is whether Middlebury College will respect adult students and adult professors right to privacy, a right which is consistent with the history of Middlebury College.

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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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November 10, 2007 - Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, Middlebury College, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized

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