Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Opposition coalesces against UNM for not punishing sadomasochistic posing professor

The University Of New Mexico’s student newspaper, the Daily Lobo, reported today that Sharon Warner “UNM’s director of creative writing said she will resign because her colleague has not been punished for posing in sexually explicit photos with students.” She submitted her letter of resignation on March 23 and is expected to vacate her position on April 15.

As previously reported by the dankprofessor, Professor of English Lisa Chavez had been investigated by the UNM administration for posing nude on a sadomasochism website, People Exchanging Power (PEP). She had posed nude with some of her students who had previously been involved with PEP. The investigation determined that Chavez had not exerted undue influence on these students, that the student involvement was consensual.

Two weeks ago Deputy Provost Richard Holder representing the UNM administration indicated that based on the investigation that Chavez was fit to teach and that she would not be subject to any university sanctions or penalties. The investigation also found that Chavez’s actions did not create a hostile environment and no university facilities were involved.

In her resignation letter Sharon Warner expressed dismay with the University’s position, and indicated that Chavez should be punished. The Daily Lobo reports that in the letter that

Warner said English department Chairman David Jones failed to report images of Chavez and a student enrolled in her spring 2007 class.

However, Jones said he received photos of Chavez posing for the Web site in July but did not receive the group photo until later.

“(Warner) has a very different recollection on matter than I do,” Jones said. “She believes she showed me the images several months before I actually saw them.”

Jones said he received an anonymous letter in July with photos of Chavez posing for the Web site. He said he immediately reported the incident to administration.

In an interview with the Daily Lobo, Warner stated:

“Mainly, what it amounts to is the chair, the dean and UNM legal counsel have all told me on multiple occasions that I was – and to quote them – ‘perilously close to being sued by Chavez’s attorney,’ and that I would have to pay for my own counsel,” she said in a phone interview. “I was told that they would take my house, and that I may be sued down to my grandchildren.”

English Chair Jones stated that Warner “has been immensely valuable to the program. She has built the program into what it is today,” he said. “However, it is also true that this is not a lifetime appointment. Other people have told me that it might be time for a change.”

However, a number of English department faculty also want change, but change of a different genre as indicated by the following-

English professor Gary Scharnhorst said he is not happy about Holder’s decision. Scharnhorst said he has signed two petitions to refer the issue to the ethics committee.

“I’ve written letters to a number of administrators at the University,” he said. “I believe that what happened was profoundly unprofessional conduct and should be sent to the ethics committee for review.”

Warner said both petitions were signed by 13 faculty members in the English department.

She said the latest petition has been sent to interim Provost Viola Florez.

“We’re continuing all the way up to the academic chain,” she said. “We’re prepared to take it all the way to the governor if we have to.”

So here we have academic politics in full operation. Jones has been attacked by Warner and the English faculty are organizing in opposition to their Chair and Chavez and VP Holder and organizing in support of Warner.

The dankprofessor had predicted in my prior posting that there would be concerted opposition to allowing Chavez to teach at UNM. And now the dankprofessor predicts that the English faculty will attempt to censure and possibly remove their Chair. And as for Warner’s April 15 resignation, such could also be a political ploy to get the UNM administration to reconsider their position.

The UNM administration did the right thing in the way they handled the case- they investigated the situation and had detailed findings that simply did not support the punishing of Professor Chavez. But now the UNM moral mafia situated in the English department are engaging in pressure politics to punish and/or get rid of Chavez.

And there is no way of telling where this political pressuring and posturing could lead. If, as Warner threatens, it ends up on the desk of Governor Richardson, it will also probably end up entering the national political primary arena.

 With Richardson having fully embraced Obama, and Richardson having been accused of being a Judas by key Clinton supporters, it becomes within the realm of the politically possible that the Clinton campaign would embrace the politics of Karl Rove if Richardson and then by association Obama do not affirm traditional values by demanding the termination of Professor Chavez.

The dankprofessor believes that more on this will be forthcoming soon with the the deadline day being the taxing day of April 15.

For an update on his story, click here.

If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
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to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

April 3, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, litigation, nudity, pornography, sadomasochism, sex, sexual politics, University of New Mexico | 2 Comments


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