Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Cigarette harassment at Yale?

A Yale faculty member who is a professor in the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department “has been accused of sexual harassment, according to a Yale Police Department report filed April 8”.  Such was reported by the Yale Daily News.  And according to the YDN,

The accusation will likely be handled internally by Yale Graduate School administrators, YPD spokesman Sgt. Steven Woznyk told the News on Tuesday. The YPD and the Graduate School have agreed to try to resolve the harassment complaint without formal police action, Woznyk said. Despite the confirmation of the report, administrators within the department and Graduate School remain tight-lipped, and the accused faculty member – whose name the News is withholding because no formal charges have been filed and no finding has been made by the University – denied the accusation to the News.

I think the policy of the YDN not reporting the name of the Yale professor is a wise policy particularly since there has been no formal charge lodged against the professor.  However, the policy as implemented by the YDN appears to the dankprofessor as a psuedo-implementation since the the YDN report narrowed the suspect population to male profs in the Near Eastern Languages and Civilization Department.  The population was further narrowed down when the YDN reported that the professor was a cigarette smoker.

When contacted by phone by the YDN and informed of the sexual harassment charge, the professor responded-“You are incorrect, if I were harassing someone, I would know.” 

The YDN then reported on the comments of an anonymous department insider with knowledge about the case who said

the faculty member asked a lector to purchase cigarettes from Walgreens and bring them to the faculty member’s residence. The professor then refused to pay back the lector, the insider said.

“There was a condition for [the lector] to pick up the check,” the insider continued.

The lector rejected the condition and left the residence immediately, the insider said, and the nature of this situation made the lector very uncomfortable.

The faculty member returned to the NELC department on Tuesday, April 8 – the day the case was filed with the YPD. According to the insider, the faculty member called the lector into the hallway at the beginning of a class the lector was teaching and proceeded to yell at the lector in the hallway, insisting that the lector take the money for the cigarettes.

“Everybody was uncomfortable,” the insider said. “All the students were scared because of the way [the faculty member] was talking and the way [the faculty member] was making noise in the hallway.”

There were roughly 20 students in the classroom at the time of the incident. A student in the class confirmed the information relayed by the insider, which was shared with the class on Thursday.

The insider said the loud conversation outside the classroom hinged on discussion of the cigarettes and the money.

“Everybody was wondering what happened,” the insider said.

The dankprofessor must admit to being perplexed in regards to this case since a sexual harassment charge is at issue but there was no indication in the YDN report that anything happened of a sexual nature.  Apparently the lector was uncomfortable in regards to exchanging money for cigarettes.  Of course, some persons regard cigarette smoking in itself as being sexual and apply a Freudian interpretation to cigarettes. 

A more likely scenario is that the lector viewed the professor as trying to seduce her into becoming a cigarette smoker. Such could be regarded as cigarette harassment.  Given Yale’s politically correct environment, it seems to me that it is rather problematic for a professor to have a student or lector buy his cigarettes.  In this kind of case, shouldn’t the professor being doing his own dirty work?  Shouldn’t he be the one going to a cancer promoting cigarette peddling Walgreens to purchase his own smokes?

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 2008



April 17, 2008 - Posted by | ethics, higher education, political correctness, sexual harassment, sexual politics, Yale University |

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