Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Being above suspicion

It seems that an annual ritual associated with the arrival of the new year is the making of lists, particularly of the genre of top ten lists. So I have been mulling over what sort of list I could come up with that is relevant to this wonderful blog and would be helpful to those blog readers who wish to safely navigate the university terrain during 2008. And I thought that I would create a list for those professors and lecturers and teaching assistants who have absolutely no interest in dating any student, irrespective as to the student being enrolled in ones class or never enrolled and who wish never to be suspected of dating or of ever dating a student. It’s the being above suspicion that concerns me since profs who are not dating students are in terms of their public behavior and persona often quite similar or identical to the public behavior and persona of professors who are dating a student.

So following is the dankprofessor’s New Year’s list for non-dating male profs who wish to remain above suspicion as to dating a female student. 

1. Never be seen off campus in any context with a female student in a one to one situation. Particularly avoid dining, having coffee, etc., with a female student in a public setting.

2. Although being off campus with a female student in a group context is less risky, there are still risks. If you are the only faculty member in a student group, others (both other students and professors) are likely to view you as having gone “native” and often impute sexual motivations. In such group settings, minimize you interaction with any particular female student to avoid being perceived as part of a couple.

3. Never have social gatherings of any kind in your home in which female students are present. The dynamic of having parties and inviting some students, but not others, often leads to feelings of unfair favoritism and resentment by the uninvited students. The most benign form of interaction with female students may lead to perceptions of intimacy by a select few; remember, it only takes one person to file a complaint. Also, being married is obviously no guarantee that you will not be prone to such perceptions.

4. On campus, never walk with a female student side by side. If you are seen repeatedly walking with one female student, some persons will impute couplehood. If while walking across campus, you run into a female student, stop and talk to her, but do not talk to her while walking. Of course, never dine, have coffee with a female student on campus without other persons present, preferably other faculty.

5. It is very important that you maintain social distance from former students who are still on campus. If you are perceived to have a close relationship with a former student, some will impute a sexual component, a sexual component that they may now believe may have been present when she was in your own class. And, if you should become engaged to or marry a former student, others may now believe that there was a sexual component when she was under your supervision.

6. Unfortunately, male faculty mentoring female students become particularly at risk. Since there is a great deal of one to one interaction, mentoring relationships often become close relationships and therefore outsiders are prone to impute a sexual component. Also, some non-mentored students are prone to resent the mentored and also prone to impute favoritism. So mentoring female students is out. 

7. Leaving ones office door open or closed while conferring with a student does not really significantly effect perceptions. It is the female student who is frequently seen waiting for you in the hallway that may lead to sexual imputations. Given this situation, the concerned professor should generally discourage student office visitations. The safest form of student conferral is by computer email with ALL messages NEVER deleted.

8. In terms of involvement in university activities it is difficult to limit oneself to participating in activities in which there are no female students in attendance. So to avoid being seen as a social isolate, do attend some university events, but only those events that have a clear feminist underpinning such as Take Back the Night events.

9. In term of in-class behavior, never address students in an informal manner, using first names is definitely a no-no.  And, of course, always have students address you in formal terms Dr. or Professor. And clearly communicate to students you don’t care whether they think you are a good teacher; communicate that you don’t care about student evaluations and you don’t care about students. Being an unpopular professor as far as students are concerned is one of the very best ways to avoid suspicion. So if anyone implied that you might have an inappropriate sexual affiliation, the typical reaction would be utter disbelief.

10.  Don’t get involved in any sort of civil liberties activities. Never give any kind of lip service to the rights of consenting adults unless it is in a feminist framework, wrap yourself in a breastplate of righteousness exuding your contempt for sexual deviance and deviates and communicating nostalgia for the good old days when everybody knew their place.

So that’s it, follow these guidelines and you will be above suspicion.

If I missed an important item that you think the dankprofessor should have included, do let me know. I am an open person, always open to others, and have no problem not being above suspicion. 

And have a Happy New Year.

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


December 31, 2007 - Posted by | consensual relationships, fobidden love, fraternization, higher education, secrecy, sexual policing, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized

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