Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Sexual trouble along the Florida Gulf Coast

Naplesnews.com of Naples, Florida reports that too many of the faculty of the Florida Gulf Coast University have in the past been too sexually involved with their students. Reporter Brad Kane found that FCGU fired two of its coaches over “suspicions of having improper affairs with students”. Interesting that suspicions, not findings of fact, are apparently enough for FGCU to fire faculty.

In the dankprofessor’s opinion it is pretty damning that any university would fire any faculty or administrator or staff persons because they had come under suspicion. If such be the case, maybe the university should screen out all suspicious persons during the hiring person. And, of course, they should be upfront about it in their employments ads- Suspicious persons need not apply. But maybe the problem is the dankprofessor’s. Maybe I am not suspicious enough, particularly not suspicious of the news media that all too often gets the story wrong, particularly when the story deals with sex. Maybe the naplesnews.com got it wrong when it is stated the suspicions relating to faculty having “improper affairs” with students. Of course, such implies that there also can be proper faculty student affairs. And, yes, it is the dankpofessor’s position that there are per se no improper student professor affairs; something more needs to have occurred to make them improper.

But upon further perusal of this article, I learn more about what might be considered to be improper as “…when two professors in 2001 were let go for the same reasons. One was even caught in the back of a van with a student.” Combining a student professor romance with auto erotica apparently goes beyond the moral sensibilities of many Floridians. Maybe it would have been a less serious offense if the affair was held in an indoor venue, such as an hotel or apartment or even in a condo.

However, I may be digressing from he main point of the article and that was to report that the FGCU administration is taking a dim view of student professor affairs. FGCU spokeswoman Susan Evans sets things straight when she stated-

“The issue is power and authority, whether it is professor/student or coach/student-athlete. All the students should be able to learn in an environment free of unwanted advances.”

Now the dankprofessor considers Ms. Evans thinking on this matter to be distorted, stereotypical and anti-female. What “offends” me is the part about all students being free of unwanted advances with the assumption being that students never make advances regarding faculty. Such is patently untrue. In any case, if these affairs are now regarded as improper by the administration, shouldn’t faculty also have the ability to teach in an environment free of unwanted advances?

In addition, the following is stated in the article-

FGCU employees are strictly forbidden from having amorous relationships with students directly under their authority whether it’s students in their classes, players on their teams or interns under their employment.

For students not directly under their authority, the issue gets slightly cloudier as affairs are frowned upon but not expressly against the rules.

“It is a serious offense that can and does include termination of an employee,” Evans said.

Even though the relationship may start between two consenting adults, it can descend into a sexual harassment situation, which undermines the learning process.

“Faculty should not have affairs with students even when the student is not in the faculty member’s class, because when the relationship goes sour – even if that relationship is based on mutual consent – that could be something that turns into harassment,” said Halcyon St. Hill, FGCU faculty senate president.

My God, both Ms. Evans and the faculty senate president share the same fears, a consensual relationship turning into a situation of sexual harassment. Maybe their fears might be lessened by their confronting the possibility that student professor relationships can end in friendship and love and marriage and even parenthood. Why trump student professor affairs because some have unhappy endings? Would they trump marriage since marriage often leads too divorce?

The reporter does allow a FGCU student to have the last word.

“It is pretty much the same stories you hear about in high schools all over, except, even now, we are all adult,” said Kimberly Freeman, a sophomore biotechnology major. “I don’t condone it, but everyone has their own moral standard.

“I’d never date a professor. That’s kind of wrong.”

Despite all FGCU’s rules and regulations, stopping student-professor affairs altogether might be impossible.

“It goes on everywhere,” Freeman said. “I’m sure there’s not one college out there where it hasn’t happened.”

As is the practice on the dankprofessor blog, the dankprofessor gets the last word. Of course, the student is right when she states it goes on everywhere. But in almost all of the everywheres there are the moral zealots eager to enforce their sexual agenda on unsuspecting others, unsuspecting others who believe in the right to privacy, the right of adults to have the freedom to choose with whom they have intimate associations. If the FGCU administration is to protect students and faculty from power abuse, the protection they need is from moral zealots who occupy positions of authority.

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

March 12, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, Florida Gulf Coast University, fraternization, higher education, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | Leave a comment


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