Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Gradedigging or romance at the University of Southern Maine

The University of Southern Maine student newspaper, the Free Press, had a February 11 article on student professor dating. What differentiated this article from the run of the mill student newspaper articles on this subject is that there was an interview with a female student who reports to be in a relationship with a university professor. Also included was an interview with a third party student observer. Of course, the article did not omit input from the relevant university administrators.

There were a number of statements worth noting in this article and the one that got the immediate attention of the dankprofessor came from student third party observer, Jeremy Knee, a USM senior. Mr. Knee reported on his suspicions that an unnamed female student was in a relationship with an unnamed male professor. As for his being uncomfortable if such a relationship was in fact occurring, he stated- “While it wasn’t necessarily uncomfortable because they were involved, the faculty was limited in his availability to other students. And I had the thought that if I was a girl who looked like her, I’d be getting a better grade.”

Of course, the reason invoked by Mr. Knee are the same reasons often invoked by university administrators for the banning of such relationships, that they threaten the integrity of the grading process, that they undermine academic integrity. Of course, Mr. Knee’s student reaction is the same old same old student reaction when another student gets a higher grade than oneself, ones lower grade becomes the fault of the professor or of the favored student; the distraught student denies that ones grade can accurately reflect ones course work. It’s called copping out or, if you will, scapegoating. Of course, there is an additional innuendo in this situation and that is that the female student may be prostituting herself for a high grade or in more general terms, the female student is just another gradedigger.

But Mr.Knee had more on his mind when he stated: “If I had the ability to manipulate someone who had power over me, I might.” So this is it. It is all about the manipulation of power, not about love, or romance, or closeness or even passion. It is just about premeditated manipulation by a gradedigging female student. Of course, this view is not unique to Mr. Knee. The dankprofessor regards it as representing hardcore cynicism, and in a weird way it represents the thinking of cynical feminists but in an inverse manner. The cynical campus feminist regards the male professor as being the predatory power manipulator of the female student; the male observing student regards the female student as being the predator manipulating the male professor. So here one can easily pick the most psychologically suitable stereotype.

And when it comes down to university administrators, too many pick a stereotype, and we know the one that is usually picked is the stereotype of the cynical campus feminist as well as the one that states that student professor relationships undermine academic integrity, and their evidence for this belief are persons of the genre of Mr. Knee. How sad! How sad that they embrace the view that represents thinking the worst of people, which represents hardcore cynicism. Does such thinking become a necessary outcome of being a university administrator? Is such thinking indicative of embracing a police cynicism where everyone is suspect, no one is to be trusted since everyone has their con?

Or maybe it is the dankprofessor who has a major problem? Might it be that I suffer from a romantic view of the world that censors out the omnipresence of cynical manipulators? Might I suffer from a naivete when I profess that student professor couples should be just left alone, that it is more harmful to intrude into the lives of these couples than to do nothing?

More to come on this article in future postings.

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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

February 12, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, fraternization, grading, higher education, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, University of Southern Maine | Leave a comment


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