Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Duke students to become unwitting rapists

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education(FIRE) in a news release, April 7, 2010, charges that Duke University in a recently implemented sexual misconduct policy has rendered students as unwitting rapists and removed protections for students accused of sexual misconduct.  The entirety of the FIRE news release appears at the end of this post and by clicking here one can read the entirety of the Duke sexual misconduct policy.

The dankprofessor views this new sexual misconduct policy as both draconian and authoritarian.  The policy attempts to regulate the most intimate aspects of student lives.  The major rationale given for such intrusion into the private lives of Duke students is that the policy attempts to insure that all sexual interaction between students is ‘absolutely’ consensual.  The irony is that the policy has been applied to Duke students without their consent. There was no vote taken by Duke students authorizing this policy.  The policy is being imposed on Duke students by the powers that be at Duke.  In essence, Duke administrators and their confreres come off as authoritarian adults disciplining their children.

The utter hypocrisy of the creators of this policy is apparent.  They argue that this policy in essence functions to upgrade the principle of consent and to sexually protect Duke students.  If such be the case, then why do the creators and implementors of this policy exempt themselves?  Why aren’t all Duke administrators, staff members, and faculty also beneficiaries of this policy?  Aren’t they deserving of the same protections granted to Duke students?   Aren’t these policies applied to Duke students with the hope that students will apply these approved practices throughout their lives?

The dankprofessor feels that he knows why these policies are not applied to Duke constituencies beyond students.  Such non-application occurs because administrators, faculty and others would not tolerate being treated like children, would not tolerate having their sex lives governed by self-serving authoritarians.  In the area of sexual civil liberties Duke students deserve the same basic rights as their so-called superiors.

The dankprofessor hopes that Duke faculty and administrators stand up for the rights of their students.   Too much abuse has gone at Duke.  Too many authoritarians have already hurt too many innocent Duke students in their zealous quest for so-called justice.

FIRE statement-

DURHAM, N.C., April 7, 2010—Duke University has instituted a new “sexual misconduct” policy that can render a student guilty of non-consensual sex simply because he or she is considered “powerful” on campus. The policy claims that “perceived power differentials may create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion.” Duke’s new policy transforms students of both sexes into unwitting rapists simply because of the “atmosphere” or because one or more students are “intoxicated,” no matter the degree. The policy also establishes unfair rules for judging sexual misconduct accusations. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is challenging the policy.

“Duke’s new sexual misconduct policy could have been written by Mike Nifong,” said FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley. “Members of the men’s basketball team could be punished for consensual sexual activity simply because they are ‘perceived’ as more powerful than other students after winning the national championship. Students who engage in sexual behavior after a few beers could be found guilty of sexual misconduct towards each other. This is not just illogical and impractical, but insane. Given its experience during the lacrosse team rape hoax, Duke, of all schools, should know better than to institute such unjust rules about sexual misconduct.”

The new policy was introduced at the beginning of the school year with fanfare from the Duke Women’s Center—the same center that apologized for excluding pro-life students from event space in a case FIRE won last month. Women’s Center Director Ada Gregory was quoted in Duke’s student newspaper The Chronicle justifying the new policy, saying, “The higher [the] IQ, the more manipulative they are, the more cunning they are … imagine the sex offenders we have here at Duke—cream of the crop.” (In a follow-up letter to The Chronicle, Gregory claimed that the quote was inaccurate and did not reflect her views, but stood by her analysis that campuses like Duke are likely to harbor smarter sex offenders who are better able to outwit investigators.)

Duke’s vastly overbroad definition of non-consensual sex puts nearly every student at risk of being found guilty of sexual misconduct. Students are said to be able to unintentionally coerce others into sexual activity through “perceived power differentials,” which could include otherwise unremarkable and consensual liaisons between a varsity athlete and an average student, a senior and a freshman, or a student government member and a non-member.

Further, students are said to be unable to consent to sexual behavior when “intoxicated,” regardless of their level of intoxication. Duke has turned mutually consensual sexual conduct, which might merely be poorly considered, into a punishable act. Adding to the confusion, if both parties are intoxicated at all, both are guilty of sexual misconduct, since neither can officially give consent. North Carolina law does not support this definition of consent.

“Of course, there is no way that everyone who was intoxicated during sexual activity, let alone ‘perceived’ as more powerful, is going to be charged with sexual misconduct,” said Adam Kissel, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program. “Add to that the provision about an unintentional atmosphere of coercion, and anyone can see that Duke’s policy is impossible to rationalize or to fairly and equitably enforce. As a result, this policy effectively trivializes real sexual misconduct, which is a gravely serious crime.”

The new policy even makes reporting of so-called sexual misconduct mandatory for any Duke employee who becomes aware of it, regardless of the wishes of the alleged victim.

Furthermore, Duke has made fair enforcement of the sexual misconduct policy even more difficult by establishing different procedures and even a different “jury” to judge sexual misconduct complaints. For instance, sexual misconduct charges are judged by two faculty or staff members and only one student, but all other offenses are judged by a panel of three students and two faculty or staff members. Duke fails to explain why a jury with a majority of one’s peers is necessary for charges like assault or theft but not sexual misconduct.

Other problems in the sexual misconduct policy, detailed in FIRE’s letter to Duke President Richard Brodhead of March 4, include giving the complainant more rights than the accused, requiring the results of a hearing to be kept secret in perpetuity even if one is found not guilty or is falsely accused, and allowing anonymous and third-party reporting so that the student may never be able to face his or her accuser.

FIRE wrote, “As a private university, Duke is not obliged to agree with the authors of the Bill of Rights about the value of the right to face one’s accuser. Nevertheless, Duke ignores their wisdom at the peril of its own students and reputation.” Duke has declined to respond to FIRE’s letter in writing.

“More than any other school in the nation,” Shibley said, “Duke should be aware that its students deserve the best possible rules and procedures for ensuring that rape and sexual misconduct charges are judged fairly. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense. Duke students deserve a policy under which true offenders will be punished but the innocent have nothing to fear.”

FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at thefire.org.

Tell Duke University to give its students the protections they deserve. Write to President Brodhead here.


Richard H. Brodhead, President, Duke University: 919-684-2424 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              919-684-2424      end_of_the_skype_highlighting;

April 7, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, dating, Duke University, higher education, privacy, rape, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights | 2 Comments

Sex and love between students and professors

Well once again Professor Mark Bourrie’s response to the dankprofessor is a non- response.
Here it is unexpurgated, uncensored.

“Dank indeed.
I’ve answered your worthless critique many times.
All you seem to care about is rationalizing
your seduction of your students. You are scum”

Bourrie’s usage of the scum rhetoric strips away his cloak of professionalism.  No attempt to use professionalism here as a rationalization for his attitudes toward professors who have been intimate with their students.  No attempt here for Bourrie to engage in any minimal form of academic or polite or enlightening discourse.  His tactics are those of a hatemonger- objectify and dehumanize those who are on the other side.  “Create” them in whatever terms the hatemonger wishes.  No matter that Dank has never seduced anyone, Bourrie can still create and communicate Dank as a seducer without any need to cite supporting evidence since Dank is a creation of Bourrie’s imagination.  Bourrie can imagine Dank and other professors who are intimate with students in what ever terms he wishes.  Of course, such tells us more about Bourrie than it tells us about Dank, et .al.  The fact that he homogenizes us, makes us all the same, allows no possibility that some of us seduce and some do not, is quite damning of Bourrie.  As the philosopher Martin Buber would likely state, Bourrie lives in an I/it world, a world of impersonal categories, a world that is never allowed to transcend into an I/thou framework, a framework where there is personalization, where individuals are experienced as unique beings, where relationships are explored, where people can be appreciated and even loved.  It is also a world that has been described by the anthropologist Mary Douglas, as a world of dirt and pollution and scum; a world infected by those who have engaged in violations of what is considered to be sacred.

In this world which Bourrie has created, there is no love.  Bourrie along with many others
whose opposition to student professor relationships mainly has an anti-sexual dynamic, cannot comprehend that there can be a loving relationship between a student and a professor.  The idea that a mutual love of knowledge can lead to love, a passion for each other is out of their world.  The idea that some of these relationships become long term and lead to marriage, and even marriage at times without divorce is not considered.  I think that I am on pretty firm ground when I believe that Bourrie has never given any consideration to the possibility that some of the professors and administrators he riles against at Concordia for not advocating student professor bans may very well have fallen in love with and married a student.  And I am also quite sure that Bourrie has never entertained the possibility that some of his students may very well be the children of persons who were once in student professor relationships.

The mundane world of love, marriage and children is not there for Bourrie as applied to student professor relationships. Well, this mundane world is and was part of my world, and Bourrie’s writing me off and others like me as scum is not just beyond good taste, it reflects a descent into indecency and degradation.  It reflects an attempt to pull his readers into his pornographic imagination.

And more must be said about love.  It is striking that Mark Bourrie and his confreres say nothing about love, and nothing about falling in love.  Such is striking since their often avowed goals is to preserve fairness and objectivity when it comes to grading.  But never once does Bourrie say that the professor who has fallen in love with a student, a love which may be only known to the professor, should recuse oneself from grading the loved student or go to his supervisor to insure said love should not bias the grading process.

And as for barring student professor relationships that entail friendship without sex, Bourrie in his recent posting discounts such relationships as being different, not applicable.  But, if ones goal really is to protect fairness in grading, one must know that at times close friendships, loving friendships can produce bonds that could threaten the fairness of the grading process. But Bourrie and apparently many others do not care about love and friendship interfering with grading.  What they care about is sex and furthering their anti-sexual agenda.  The fairness in grading appeal helps them to rationalize their goals, and that is too stamp out sex between students and professors. 

As long as universities are not replaced by online education, there will be love and sex between students and professors.  Such has become and will unfortunately continue to be at least into the near future, the love that dare not speak its name.  And dankprofessor blog readers can be assured that the dankprofessor will continue to speak its name. Such is my pledge.

April 14, 2009 Posted by | attractive students, Canada, Concordia University, consensual relationships, dating, ethics, grading, higher education, love, Mark Bourrie, passion, sex, sexual harassment, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | 3 Comments

Dental love

The dankprofessor believes that few people find dentistry very sexy.  And most states have laws on the books that regulate and discipline dentists who might engage in sexual misconduct and exploitation of a patient.  

But now the State of Pennsylvania has taken their dental regulations into never never land.  The State has barred romance in the dental chair.

Dentists who find their perfect love match sitting in the patients’ chair must end the professional relationship and wait a few months before dating, according to new state regulations.
The new rules say that any sexual conduct – even consensual contact – with a current patient, including “words, gestures or expressions, actions or any combination thereof,” is subject to disciplinary action by the State Board of Dentistry. The regulations will apply to dentists, hygienists and other state-licensed dental practitioners engaged in sexual conduct with patients they have treated within the past three months. There are exceptions for relationships in which the patient is a
spouse or a lives with the employee.

Of course, the Pennsylvania Dental Association is opposed to these prohibitions.

The (association) feels that a normal, healthy, romantic relationship between a dentist and a patient, with mutual consent, does not constitute sexual misconduct,” said Philadelphia dentist Dr. Thomas Gamba, the association’s president.

In defending these new regulations, “the board did not cite any specific incidents or complaints, but said its proposal “will protect consumers … and provide clear guidance to practitioners that sexual misconduct is considered unprofessional conduct.”   The Board also stated “that it decided not to allow exceptions for relationships other than ones involving marriage or cohabitation because doing so would make the rules more difficult to enforce.”

Of course, the dankprofessor has heard this all before.  Nothing really new here.  Once again we have the conflating of a consensual sexual relationship with sexual misconduct.  We have the campus feminist chant that differential power precludes consent dressed up in a dental garb. 

Except it becomes OK if dentist and patient get married or live together.  And as for the Dental Board’s assertion that their rules become too difficult to enforce if dentist and patient are married, the fact of the matter is that prohibitions against sexual relationships between consenting adults are never easy to enforce.

No matter what the Board states or requires, dental hygiene is not mental hygiene as in psychotherapy and does not merit the attention of the state.

In opposition to theses rules, Dr. Thomas Gamba stated-

The rules also could hamper the association’s efforts to encourage young dentists to relocate to underserved rural communities. We have a promotion to young dentists to consider Pennsylvania, and rural Pennsylvania.  We have to give them incentives to come here.

Absolutely correct.  And let us not forget that for those who are dentally attracted, such couples who do affiliate engage in significantly higher frequencies of flossing than non-dental couples although in time flossing frequency does decline for the dental couples.

October 21, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, dating, dental, fraternization, sex, sexual politics | Leave a comment

Abstinence at Harvard

Today’s New York Times Magazine had an interesting article entitled “Students of Virginity”. The dankprofessor found the headline to be a misnomer since I thought the article would deal with persons who study virginity, but my professorial instinct was wrong since the article dealt with college students who had made a commitment to remain abstinent until marriage. But at the risk of being too severe on the NY Times, the article was not really about students or college students involvement in the abstinence movement; rather it was primarily about Harvard students who had made an abstinence commitment, or at least a couple of Harvard students who had made such a commitment.

OK, enough for the caveats.The article focused on Harvard student Janie Fredell and how she made a transition from conservative Colorado Springs to Cambridge; how she made the transition form a culture of chastity to a culture of free sexuality.

Fredell began to understand she was in “a culture that says sex is totally O.K.” When a new boyfriend came to her, expressing desire, she managed to “stick to my guns,” she said, but there were “uncouth and socially inept” men, as she considered them, all around, and observing the rituals of her new classmates, Fredell couldn’t help being alarmed. “The hookup culture is so absolutely all-encompassing,” she said. “It’s shocking! It’s everywhere!”

She did nothing about it until her sophomore year. Then she began to read in The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, about a new student group on campus – a band of celibates, men and women, calling themselves True Love Revolution. They were pushing, for reasons entirely secular, the cause of premarital sexual abstinence, and Fredell, by this time, was utterly committed to abstinence. She could hardly bear to see it ridiculed in The Crimson. An article about the group’s ice cream social appeared under the headline “Not Tonight, Honey, I Have a Brain Freeze.” A columnist who wrote about the group joked of getting “very, very aroused” just thinking about virgins and wondered if such people might be available for “dry humping.”

“It’s an odd thing to see one’s lifestyle essentially attacked in The Crimson,” Fredell said. She began to feel a need to stand up for her beliefs, and what she believed in more than anything at Harvard was the value of not having premarital sex. In an essay she wrote for The Crimson, she asserted that “virginity is extremely alluring,” though its “mysterious allure . . . is not rooted in an image of innocence and purity, but rather in the notion of strength.” As she told me later, “It takes a strong woman to be abstinent, and that’s the sort of woman I want to be.”

After the essay appeared a year ago, Fredell was immediately aware of a loss of privacy, of having entered “whatever it is, the public sphere.” As students began responding on The Crimson Web site, she understood that she had defined herself at Harvard. “Everything became very clear to me,” she recalled when we met. She would join True Love Revolution. “I realized it was bigger than me, more important.”

Of course, the name of the abstinence group, True Love Revolution, is somewhat presumptuous. Sex and love can be separate, but to presume that sex trumps true love would appear to me to represent fringe thinking. The article indicated that the group did its “first big outreach effort, on Valentine’s Day 2007. Members had sent out cards to the women of the freshmen class that read: “Why wait? Because you’re worth it.” Some interpreted the card to mean that those who didn’t wait until marriage to have sex would somehow be worth less. One writer for The Crimson concluded that “by targeting women with their cards and didactic message, they perpetuate an age-old values system in which the worth of a young woman is measured by her virginity.””

What other interpretation of this outreach slogan could be given other than preserving virginity was equivalent to preserving ones worth?

Within a short period of time Fredell became Harvard’s most public student in advocacy of abstinence. Such did not represent any easy task since Harvard did not represent an abstinence friendly environment. Friedell saw her situation in these terms-

“People just don’t get it,” Fredell said. “Everyone thinks we’re trying to promote this idea of the meek little virgin female.” She said she was doing no such thing. “I care deeply for women’s rights,” she said. Fredell was studying not just religion but also gender politics – and was reading Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” alongside John Stuart Mill’s “Subjection of Women.” She had awakened to the wage gap, to forced sterilization and female genital mutilation – to the different ways that men have, she said, of controlling women. One of these was sexual. Fredell had seen it often in her own life – men pushing for sex, she said, just to “have something to say in the locker room,” women feeling pressured to have sex in order to maintain a relationship. The more she studied and learned, the more Fredell came to realize that women suffer from having premarital sex, “due to a cultural double standard,” she said, “which devalues women for their sexual pasts and glorifies men for theirs.”

The Times goes into depth with Fredell in terms of her difficulties relating to others in the context of her abstinence commitment, including the difficulties in relating to her boyfriend who had made the same commitment.

To provide a sexual balance for the Harvard scene, the Times interviewed Harvard student Lena Chen who has come to be seen as representing sexual freedom via her blogging. The Times reported-

Chen’s viewpoint, as she explained it to me, was not complicated. “For me, being a strong woman means not being ashamed that I like to have sex,” she said. And “to say that I have to care about every person I have sex with is an unreasonable expectation. It feels good! It feels good!”

Ultimately, Chen and Fredell come together in dramatic form in a debate on sexual freedom vs. sexual abstinence-

THE DEBATE between Fredell and Chen was described on Ivygate, a blog about Ivy League news and gossip. The blogger dutifully recorded that both women looked their parts – Fredell “modestly dressed in jeans” and Chen wearing “a miniskirt that left little to the imagination.” More than a hundred students crowded into a meeting room of Winthrop House, an undergraduate residence, and Fredell said that most of them just wanted “a huge cat fight.”

She and Chen had agreed beforehand, however, to focus on finding “common ground.” What they found, as Chen told me, was that both of them were “out there publicly declaring” who they are. They admitted that they were both, in their own ways, advertising sex appeal. The Crimson pointed out that “both have come under attack for their extreme attitudes toward sex,” and Fredell said they were able to bond over being attacked.

By underscoring their similarities and demonstrating mutual respect for each other, Fredell said she hoped to suggest to the audience that perhaps True Love Revolution was a friendly force at Harvard – and also deserving of a little respect. The Crimson, though, declared the whole event “boring!” and without open disagreement, the debate seems to have been resolved almost as a beauty contest. Two women sitting side by side, posing a silent question to the audience: which of us do you find more appealing?

Chen knew, as she told me later, that “the culture reacts differently when women make the same decisions men do.” Her own decisions were public knowledge, because she revealed them on her blog. Chen’s perspective on society, and Fredell’s, was borne out in the aftermath, as people wrote in to Ivygate, calling Lena Chen a “slut,” a “whore,” a “total whore,” a “whore whore slut.” And then someone by the screen name of Sex v. Marriage wrote in to say that “most guys out there would rather end up with a girl like Janie.”

Fredell was happy that the event had drawn a large crowd. She told me later that she considered it one of the revolution’s finest moments.

What ended up happy was not so happy for Chen. For both women, becoming a public figure in terms of sexual issues was no easy task. But, I gather to Chen’s surprise, her openness in regards to her sexuality was dealt with by many with hostility and sexual name calling. The after effects of the debate led to Chen putting her blog on suspension. However, Lena did do a blog entry today describing how she has been coping with her public notoriety and her reaction to the NY Times piece. I urge dankprofessor blog readers to read Lena’s most recent blog entry. As for the part of her post on the NY Times article, here it is-

Another thing: I have a slight bone to pick with the New York Times for their description of me as a “small Asian woman in a miniskirt and stilettos”. For starters, I was wearing a Cynthia Rowley dress that day and those who know the designer would agree that she hardly makes anything that could be mistaken for a miniskirt. My heels were also far less precarious and more conservative than stilettos (I remember because it was raining and even I wouldn’t have attempted such ambitious footwear on Cambridge’s brick-lined roads). Also, was it really relevant to add “Asian” to the description when my ethnic background had no bearing on the story and my last name already made it evident? And “small”? Really? Is it necessary to couple that with “Asian”? Perhaps I’m being oversensitive, but the whole eight-word description makes me cringe. It reduces me to a New England dragon lady, which is totally inaccurate from the truth but totally suitable for the purposes of portraying me as Janie Fredell’s polar opposite. Maybe that works for the Times‘ purposes but one-dimensional characters don’t make up real life.

The dankprofessor loves Lena’s last line. Yes, one-dimensional characters don’t make up real life, but they do generally populate news life, or if you will, public life. Of course, many of us feed off one-dimensionality. How can we change our complex selves so we eagerly reject one-dimensionality and eagerly embrace multi-dimensionality? One place we can look for multi-dimensionality, might be on Lena’s sexandtheivy blog. Hopefully her post today will not be her last post.

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 30, 2008 Posted by | abstinence, dating, ethics, Harvard University, higher education, love, sex, sexual politics | Leave a comment

ABC Reports on Michelle and Barack and Student Professor Relationships

ABC News had a report on student professor relationships that was not all that bad. There were a few errors, once again the law dean at UC Berkeley was portrayed as having an affair with a law student; maybe I am out of touch but when someone says so and so had an affair the implication is that the “relationship” was more than just a few hours.

In any case, the catalyst for this ABC report was the revelation by Michelle Robinson, now Michelle Obama, had met Barack in the context of a formal power differentiated relationship. Here is how ABC News put it in the context of discussing student professor relationships-

“But not all such love affairs end in disaster. In 1989, Chicago lawyer Michelle Robinson was assigned the role of adviser to a summer associate from Harvard University, her future husband and Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. According to an interview in the Illinois Journal Gazette and Times-Courier, she took the high road and refused to go out with Obama for a month.”

Is the ABC implication that Michelle took the low road when she decided to go out with him? If it was a low road, it turned out to be a pretty good road.

Might there be some campus feminists out there who wish to apply the feminist tenet that Barack could not have freely consented since differential power precludes consent and he was in the subordinate position? According to Michelle he did the asking. Attempting to apply the feminist perspective leads one into the absurd.

Of course, the Hillary Clinton campaign might have had an initial inclination to exploit this situation, but such could not occur without an immediate flashing back to Bill and Monica with Monica doing the initiating in her role of subordinate intern.  Employing the feminist doctrine, Monica could not consent because she was in the subordinate position.

The absurdity of the differential power precludes consent is so blatant but somehow so many academics accept it as axiomatic.

In addition, too may academics give lip service to the assumption that student professor relationships are doomed to a disastrous failure.

ABC did not accept this scenario and provided an example of a student view contrary to the cartoon stereotypes.

ABC interviewed Harvard student Aarti-

“Aarti, 22, who didn’t want her last name used, graduated from Harvard University last year. She told ABCNews.com that romances between professors and their students were “very, very prevalent” on her campus.
“For someone who loves learning, who is more appealing than the professor?” she asked.

She went on to state that “His vocabulary, which I have yet to see challenged, was a regular subject of discussion among the females,” “and for those females who didn’t feel this way at the beginning, well, they definitely changed by the end of the semester.”

One of her friends at Harvard dated her thesis adviser while he was teaching her class. That couple dated for a year.

“Frankly, I don’t think the romantic involvement itself is unethical, as long as the student is not receiving preferential treatment in any way,” she said. “Then, it is not just a private romantic endeavor, but rather a case of unfair treatment that essentially affects all the students in the class.”

Aarti said she would not pursue a teacher because of the double standard for women when it comes to sex.”

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 15, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, consensual relationships, dating, ethics, feminism, fraternization, higher education, Michelle Obama, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


The Sacramento Business Journal has THE solution; they know how to protect business owners, particularly small business owners,  from the pitfalls of intraoffice romance and sexual harassment lawsuits

Quoting from the business journal-

“Advisers to small businesses agree that a company can’t forbid romantic relationships in the workplace, but say they should consider policies that strongly discourage dating, especially between supervisors and subordinates. Experts also say companies should clearly outline policies on harassment and dating in an employee handbook — something many small businesses lack.

Love can bloom between coworkers at any time. Companies small and large would be wise to make sure an employee handbook is in place and policies on relationships are included, said Panda Morgan, director of the Greater Sacramento Small Business Development Center.

An employee handbook might seem like a trivial aspect of business, but it can be an important tool when relationships turn sour and harassment complaints or wrongful termination claims are made.

“The problem with small businesses is most don’t have employee handbooks because they don’t really see a need until something happens, and they realize their hands are tied and they can’t do anything about it,” Morgan said.”

After reading this article, The dankprofessor went out into the field in search of the handbook.  He found one entitled THE HANDY HANDBOOK OF OFFICE LOVE which was revised from the pioneer HANDY HANDBOOK ON UNIVERSITY LOVE*.  No date or publisher listed.  The dankprofessor will summarize the core handbook rules-










and if all else fails- KEEP HANDS CUFFED AT ALL TIMES.

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

February 14, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, corporate dating bans, dating, love, office romance, Uncategorized, workplace | Leave a comment

Office romance in full bloom on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day this year at the office may very well be better than the Valentine’s days of the recent past. According to many, romance in the office is flourishing.

Yesterday psychologist Susan Pinker reported that “surveys on office love affairs reveal they’re incredibly common, with about 10 million consensual romances developing between co-workers each year in the U.S. That’s the equivalent of the population of a small European nation meeting at the photocopier, year after year…In fact, studies designed to probe the private lives of executives, and managers by such august groups as the Society of Human Resource Management and the U.S. Bureau of National Affairs simply document the obvious: Now that we’re spending most of our time at the office, that’s the place to meet prospects, with a third of all romances starting out in the workplace.”

Workers aren’t just interested in dating their peers. PR News Wire reports “that twenty-seven percent of workers admit they have dated someone with a higher position in their organization; female workers more so than males, at 37 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Ninety-eight percent of workers said their relationship with someone at work did nothing to progress their career.”

Pinker goes on to report that “half of the romantic relationships that begin at work last, resulting in marriage or a long term relationship, while only 5 per cent provoke formal complaints…Let’s face it: offices are “natural theatres” for social and sexual interaction, a phrase coined by sociologist Arlie Hochschild. As such, there’s great potential for drama, but also for applause…If the new couple has even a chance to be happy, the team should back off and just let these folks be.”

 Unfortunately it’s that 5 per cent that gets upset when love is seen as blooming in the workplace. And they have at their disposal lawyers who are at their call and become united with the Linda Tripps of the world in their love of money.

But in any case, Pinker gets it right. If only we could “just let these folks be”. Or in the words of the Beatles, “Let It Be”.

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 14, 2008 Posted by | dating, love, office romance, workplace | 1 Comment

Workplace dating taboo and the workplace con as applied to the academic world

 The San Francisco Chronicle has just published an extraordinarily good and in-depth article on dating in the workplace. To follow are excerpts from the article interspersed with commentary from the dankprofessor.

However, blog readers should be aware that these excerpts compose a small percentage of the entire article.  For those seriously interested in workplace as well as university place dating do click the Chronicle link and read the entire article.

For some prefatory commentary, the dankprofessor observes that this article puts to shame the notion that universities which embrace student professor dating bans are only embracing what has been embraced in the corporate world and is working in the corporate world.  Professor Gayle Binion of UC Santa Barbara,  the leading advocate of bans for the UC system, has used this argument ad nauseum.  For example in the recent LA Times article on campus banning, she argues in defense of the banning that limits on banning are common in many workplaces and academia is “kind of late coming to it.” So what is good for the corporate world is held by Binion to be good for the academic world. But as this article points out that not only are dating bans not good for the corporate world, but that widespread enforced dating taboos never really existed  What I felt at the time about the Binion statement and what I can now state without inhibition is that her argument is utter poppycock.  Read on to fully appreciate said poppycock.

“… The phrase “office romance” is so stigmatized that its very mention can elicit smirks. But the reality is about as far from its sleazy reputation as one can imagine. Workplace dating is the taboo that wasn’t. Finding a mate on the job has become downright respectable. After all, if Bill Gates can meet Melinda French at the office, what’s to stop the rest of us from doing the same thing?

It’s likely that the greater acceptance of workplace romance has a lot to do with its inevitability, given the changing nature of American society. The most recent figures from the Census Bureau show that the median age of marriage for women is just shy of 26; for men, 27. In 1970, those numbers were 21 and 23, respectively. It follows that the older you are, the less likely you are to marry your college sweetheart. Says Renee Banks, human resources director at Chronicle Books (no relation to The San Francisco Chronicle): “I definitely think it’s a reality that work is where people meet these days. When you don’t meet at college, that’s a pool of people that’s taken away from you.

After college, the pool of candidates moves to the office, and since Expedia.com statistics show that 40 percent of employees log more than 50 hours of work a week, their personal lives are chopped down to virtually nothing. Work is the place where people spend the majority of their days, make their friends and yes – meet mates. Said Ann Fishman, president of Generational Targeted Marketing, a New York- and Louisiana-based marketing firm: “People move to New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco for work, so they are disconnected from family and friends. Where else are they going to meet people if not the office? A health club?”

The Internet, you might respond. But even bloggers – many of whom spend their lives online – are beginning to dismiss online dating services as an ineffective way of meeting a significant other. “People my age are sick of the impersonal nature of Internet dating,” says Jessica Valenti, 28, the voice behind the popular blog Feministing.com and author of the book “Full Frontal Feminism.” Valenti is now dating a man she met through work; he hired her to write for the Web site where he works. “It’s nice to be around people who care about the same things as you do. My blogger boyfriend understands if I am on a computer at 2 a.m., and isn’t offended.”

Office romance gets a bad rap because the phrase conjures up images of Christmas party hook-ups and Clintonesque gropings, but potential couples tend to take months, if not years, to recognize and act on the vibe between them. (This is in no small part because of an understandable instinct to protect their paychecks.) As a result, people who form an emotional attachment at work often won’t make a move until they’re absolutely sure there’s something substantial between them that might go the distance, which is precisely why it so often does.”


“Pixar, like most of the companies we contacted for this article, would not discuss its workplace romance policy, if any. But if Pearl’s and Stanton’s perception that there is none is correct, Pixar is in the majority. Nearly 70 percent of companies have no policy at all. Sometimes emphatically so. Said Netflix spokesman Steve Swayze: “We like to think of ourselves as rule-averse. We hire adults and we expect adult behavior. Personal stuff is personal, and if it isn’t interfering with work, it’s not worth spending any time on.”

Pixar gets the dankprofessor’s highest award for furthering freedom of association in the workplace.  Such a simple notion that is generally discarded by those who are into power and control of their employees- their employees are adults and that personal stuff should be personal. The fact that such a notion is held to be an anachronistic one by almost all human resources personnel and the cadre of lawyers advising and defending employers indicates the level of disconnect existent in the workplace as well as in the university place. The article continues-

“Very few companies ban workplace romance entirely, probably for a very pragmatic reason: Enforcing such a ban is nearly impossible. Says Robyn Zazulia, 27, who met her fiance Alex Rogin, 34, when they worked on a project together at Wells Fargo: “I have a very good girlfriend who worked for a small company of 200 people, but there were very clear rules, explicit rules prohibiting intercompany dating. But nobody followed it; there was a lot of inter-company dating there because they worked together at far-flung places without friends or family around.” And why would companies want to try to outlaw behavior that enhances so many employees’ lives? Each couple interviewed for this story said that they were only one of many at the same firm.

The companies that do have a written policy on office romance commonly prohibit supervisors and subordinates from being romantically involved in an effort to avoid conflicts of interest and charges of sexual harassment. For example, Schwab restricts management or supervisors from having a close personal relationship with employees they supervise. In the event such a relationship forms, the parties are required to report it to their superiors or to human resources. Said Sarah Bulgatz, Schwab’s director of corporate PR: “They can work together – absolutely – as long as one is not the direct or indirect supervisor of the other.”

Nevertheless, as we found when we did the research for our book “Office Mate: The Employee Handbook for Finding – and Managing – Romance on the Job,” there is an enormous disconnect between the attitude of HR directors toward office romance and the paranoia of corporate attorneys and public relations departments when it comes to discussing the topic, which may be why people believe that companies frown on interoffice dating. In the example of one company we contacted for this story, an executive said that in-house counsel would not allow him to discuss the firm’s office romance policy on the record. We had intended to interview a young female employee of one of the company’s subsidiaries, but when she sought permission she was told she couldn’t even voice her opinions on the topic – let alone talk about her own experiences dating colleagues – if we said where she worked. Which means that it’s fine to date the people you work with, but talking about it could get you fired.

Chris Edmonds-Waters, head of HR for SVB Financial Group, a diversified financial services firm of 1,600 employees in San Francisco, says companies should stop being afraid of talking about office romance, whether within or without the company. “It’s good corporate hygiene,” he says. “All companies should have a policy on workplace relationships and should communicate that policy because it guides people’s behaviors and gives them a resource to use if they run into a sticky issue. It’s the fair and right thing to do.”

Policy or none, managers who find couples forming where they see potential risk occasionally ask them to sign a legal document pioneered by a San Francisco law firm called – you can’t make this stuff up – the “love contract.” According to Stephen Tedesco, a partner at the firm of Littler Mendelson, they do “steady business” writing contracts that confirm there is a romantic relationship between the two parties, that it is consensual, that no offensive conduct has occurred and that they agree to conduct themselves in a professional manner. Says Tedesco, “The love contract does prevent someone from rewriting the past if the behavior goes from non-offensive to offensive.”

It also guards against the possibility that an office romance – particularly between people who are highly placed – does not become fodder for a claim of sexual favoritism in response to the sort of behavior made famous in the early 1980s by William Agee, CEO of the manufacturing conglomerate Bendix. Agee hired a fresh grad from the Harvard Business School named Mary Cunningham and proceeded to promote her up the ranks so quickly that a national scandal ensued. They later married. Thanks to a 2005 California Supreme Court ruling, co-workers who witness such favor-granting are free to file a third-party claim of sexual harassment.

But outside of such blatant misbehavior, colleagues have no problem with co-workers who couple. According to a new survey from Yahoo! HotJobs, almost half of the respondents said they don’t really care if two co-workers become involved. If anything, they approve; 56 percent say they support colleagues becoming romantically involved, as Jennifer Taylor and Eliza Laffin discovered. When Jennifer Taylor was hired at Macromedia in the spring of 2003, her boss kept talking about a colleague named Eliza. “You and Eliza are going to love each other,” the boss would say. “You’re from Vermont; she’s from Vermont; you went to Brown; she went to Brown – you’re just going to love each other.”

In a city where single women chronically complain about the shortage of available men, the matter-of-fact acceptance of workplace relationships by Bay Area companies offers unattached workers a new way to look for love. And interestingly, it’s just as effective for older singles – men and women, gay or straight. When Careerbuilder.com broke down its office romance stats by age, they found that the numbers of workers who said they have had an office romance is virtually the same from ages 25 to 64. Schwab’s Sharon Hanna, 56, is living proof. She had met Dana Jones, 52, back in 1990 when Jones joined the department where Hanna worked as a supervisor. They were lunch-break friends for years before she launched into a dinner-party-giving phase immediately after breaking off a relationship. “One night the date I’d invited for myself was a total dud and after the party my girlfriend said, ‘Ditch him; the interesting guy at the dinner was Dana!’ That was a pivotal moment; until that moment I was oblivious.”

“If we hadn’t met at work we would never have gotten together,” Hanna added.

End of excerpts.

The dankprofessor wishes to highlight the statement in the article “..that the greater acceptance of workplace romance has a lot to do with its inevitability.  Such will be inevitable where you have a high concentration of eligible men and women who are in close proximity with each other on an everyday basis.  Romances will occur in such a setting; only thru a creation of a totalitarian regime in which the workplace is saturated by informants can the numbers be decreased.  Of course, the implementation of such a regime will not lead to worker efficiency, but rather lead to the workplace being dysfunctional.  Interestingly enough, advocates of such bans hold that if there are no such bans, such will lead to demoralization of employees and at the university the disintegraton of the teacher student learning process.  Such is about as far from the truth that one can get.  The opposite is closer to the truth- the fewer the bans the greater likelihood that there be a more productive workplace and university place.  The powerful bottom line is that these bans simply cannot undermine, effectively combat the principle of dating propinquity; maybe I should call it the law of dating propinquity.  People will seek eligible persons out in their immediate environment for dating and mating; only a police state can diminish the level of propinquitous mating and dating.

Of course, the reality of pervasive dating within the workplace is obscured to outsiders by rules that supposedly function to prevent such dating.  The major function of such rules is generally a window dressing function, a public relations function that communicates to the world at large that sexual harassment rules and fraternization rules are being embraced.  In other words, many companies are not walking the walk but rather talking the talk when it comes to these rules.  As noted in the article, the major sin is talking about the rules not being applied and not the violation of said rules. 

Another way of looking at this situation is not walking the walk but talking the talk is a giant con game, and the victims of the con include our universities which embrace these rules since it is believed that they work in the so-called real world and since also  within the university there are feminist ideologues who justify said rules in the context of differential power precludes consent. Combining workplace con artistry with the campus feminist mystifying rhetoric, campus administrators, professors, and students end up being the victims of this con voluntarily giving up their rights to consent and their rights of freedom of association.

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

November 13, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, corporate dating bans, dating, ethics, feminism, fraternization, higher education, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Campus Fear and Loathing

Here are two letters in response to the LA Times article on Professor Abramson.

Challenges facing women on campus

Re “Professor makes a case for faculty-student romance,” Oct. 22

“UCLA professor Paul R. Abramson’s delusional “love contract” proposal to provide cover for professors preying on coeds is not only reprehensible but unethical. Every valid profession rightly prohibits such predatory behavior, whether within the context of doctor-patient, lawyer-client or military officer-subordinate. Our culture is damaged when the powerful take advantage of the weak, who may feel compelled to permit such predatory advances for fear of lower grades or employee evaluations. These relationships are certain to cause psychological damage, making it shocking that a psychologist would disregard such effects. Parents make financial sacrifices to send children to college. If they cannot trust the educators, then higher education must be completely revamped.” Rick Coston Melbourne, Fla.

The dankprofessor believes that if there is any delusional thinking going on here, it is not the thinking of Professor Abramson.  Somehow the letter writer is certain that any student-professor relationship is certain to cause damage; I assume he means damage to the student or professor and not to the observer.  What can be so mystifying is that very certainty. How can one be so sure that Abramson is advocating professorial predatory behavior which leaves the subject of such behavior incapacitated, unable to defend oneself, to ward off such monstrous behavior? Going beyond the obvious that the letter writer is objectifying the involved parties, I would speculate that this reflects a default assumption held by many believing in such views.  The default assumption occurs when one envisages a professor-student relationship one also envisages an adult-child relationship; it is an automatic unthinking visceral reaction.  It is consistent with the notion that professor student relationships are always age differentiated. I have previously discussed this imagery in prior postings. Clearly this letter writer is committed to this thinking since he sees parents like himself being betrayed by universities which fail to protect their children, which fail to protect parents’ investment in their children.  More generally such a view is indicative of a hierarchal world view.  In such a world order any crossing of borders that facilitates informal interaction between subordinates and superiors threatens the natural order of things.  This framework which the existentialist social psychologist Thomas Hanna called humanoidistic is synonymous with being in a perpetual state of fear.  This situation is exasperated when there are a number of similarly situated others, and when there is is an emergence of leaders (demagogues) who manipulate the fearful to combat some external enemy.

Second letter to the editor-

“This article failed to capture some of the devastating changes written into the faculty manual. The arguments put forward by political scientist Gayle Binion of UC Santa Barbara seem to have been lifted from the protocols of the Ministry of Fear in George Orwell’s “1984.” To provide just one example, perception of favoritism constitutes harassment and is grounds for censure or even dismissal. The worst of it is that women, especially in the sciences, will not be helped and advanced because male professors will be leery of anything resembling close communication. It’s a grotesque consequence of puritanical constraints.”

Jascha Kessler

Santa Monica

The writer is a professor of English and modern literature at UCLA.

Bravo to Professor Kessler.  The Ministry of Fear is not a misnomer.  I am not overstating when I state that Gayle Binion is a fear monger; I do not know if she is a professional fear monger but nevertheless a fear monger.  She suffers from fear of lawsuits, fear of professors, fear of students, fear of parents of students and she functions as a catalyst for the creation of fear based campuses where those who are involved in consensual relationships become outlaws; where professors and administrators and graduate students are continually warned about the dangers of any campus display of sexuality, any display of affection,  and where they must submit themselves periodically to “workshops” which will supposedly  help them obey the rules of the new campus Puritanism, and avoid facing secret campus tribunals. 

Enough said for now on the LA Times article.  More on the LA Times article in upcoming posts.

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


October 27, 2007 Posted by | coercing women, consensual relationships, dating, fraternization, higher education, ivory tower romance, sexual harassment, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | Leave a comment

To hug or not to hug in the workplace

I think we all know the obstacles to dating and romance in both the workplace and the university place. Employers with their legal consultants draw up fraternization rules that make it damn dangerous  for employees to even engage in furtive flirting.  Consensual romance all too often is conflated with sexual harassment.  Whether romantic overtures may be wanted or unwanted by him or her, such may not matter to the employer who has zero tolerance for overtures of any sort in his workplace.  All too often such employers have been love deprived for their entire lives so recreating such a deprived environment for those for whom they  now have control over becomes for them par for the course.  Some times it is a case of the employer protecting oneself from lawsuits; other times it is the employer who engages in a lawsuit rhetoric using such rhetoric as a smokescreen to squelch any form of affection and appreciation in his workplace.  Often such just boils down to the boss doing to others what in the past was done to him or her over and over again.  In other words, work time ends up being revenge time. In some of the most cynical scenarios it is the Chief/Boss/CEO diligently expunging consensual romance while behind sealed doors engaging in flagrant sexually harassing behavior.

In work environments that are deprived of affection and ruled by a tyrannical patriarch or matriarch, even small human gestures of affection can make a difference, such as a hug now and then.  But for many of the workplace ruling class, hugging may be viewed as way out of line.  Hugging is not always welcomed, and to make sure it is welcome, the hugee may be asked to sign a form waiving ones right not to be hugged.  This following quote on workplace hugging sort of sums it all up.

“Sometimes people get comfortable with each other, and over time they become more comfortable and that may include a big hug,” said T. Ray Bennett, with American Bureau of Shipping.

But Bennett says: “Hugging is typically not necessary to get the job done, so it’s not something we feel is necessary. We suggest that’s its usually best to stay professional and stay away from that.”

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

October 21, 2007 Posted by | corporate dating bans, dating, ethics, fraternization, sexual politics | 2 Comments

Hooking-up and spitting game

In terms of the UCONN  thong controversy, the UCONN administration found nothing casual about a nanosecond film clip exposure of a thonged woman in Professor Birmingham’s class.  Dean Paul justified his decision to get the prof out of the classroom for the rest of the semester by indicating it was so that all students at UCONN experience a welcoming environment.  However, it may be that the good dean is out of touch with the UCONN student body at least such is probably the case as indicated in the Duke University student newspaper which reported the following-

“Casual sex is increasingly described as the normative form of romantic relationships on campuses, said Suzanne Shanahan, associate director of the Kenan Institute of Ethics and assistant professor of sociology. Shanahan led the presentation “Love on the Quad: Romantic Relationships,” Saturday to an audience of Duke’s Half-Century Club members, who attended the event as a part of Homecoming Weekend activities. In a cross-disciplinary research study, Shanahan examined the changing relationships among students at Duke and other college campuses, along with the concept of a “hook-up” and its effects on student interaction.“Popular press has become obsessed with the hook-up culture of young people,” she said. According to a report produced for the Independent Women’s Forum in 2001, 91 percent of college women surveyed on campuses nationwide described their school as having a “salient hook-up culture,” Shanahan added. Other surveys found that approximately 70 to 80 percent of college students engaged in intercourse with a casual sex partner during the previous year…
Nastassja Marshall, a junior, has witnessed her peers move each year from hooking up to entering into relationships.“Freshman year makes you want to go out and explore,” she said. “By junior year, people have realized what they want in a relationship.”Jonathan Schwartz, a senior, said he has also noticed the changing ideas of relationships on campus. “I know a lot of people who got in a relationship after their freshman year,” he said. “They have been together since and are just hoping for that long-term commitment.”Another cause of “relationship avoidance” is students’ sense that long-term, committed relationships get in the way of other activities in which they want to engage during college, Shanahan said. University students are often over-committed, and they instead anticipate getting into a relationship shortly after graduation.“Relationships may be too time-consuming and distracting for some people,” Schwartz said, explaining his peers’ preference for non-commitment.Mark, commenting on her opinion of the campus “hook-up” scene, agreed.

“People are trying to have fun without the complications of a relationship,” she said.  

The dankprofessor’s take on this is that I cannot help but wonder if the deans of academia are committed to creating a welcoming environment for students immersed in the hook-up culture.  Does multiculturalism and cultural sensitivity embrace  those who just want to hook-up?  Or is the embrace given to campus purity feminists who want to get rid of all hooking-up behavior, behavior which is often seen  as representing patriarchal oppression.  In any case, it would be interesting to have some good comparative data to determine in more exact terms how pervasive is the campus hooking-up culture.   Might it equally encompass universities such as  Duke and the University of Virginia and the University of Connecticut?  Might students who are into hooking-up even be found in law schools?  As for the University of Virginia, a recent article in their campus newspaper indicated that hooking-up at Virginia is often viewed in game playing terms-

“”The Game” refers to the general concept of guys trying to get girls to hook up, as opposed to a particular person’s “game,” or strategy for getting ahead in the Game. Thus, the expression “spitting game” refers to one person’s attempt to succeed in the casual hookup, the object being maximization of play and minimization of drama. That is to say, spitting game is hooking up as often as is desired, while keeping the level of emotional attachment, commitment and social consequences at a minimum. Think: What do I have to do to get this girl to hook up with me without the repercussions of emotional attachment? Now you’re getting into the mind of a player. Real players are natural flirters. For a player, the rewards of the game are enticing, but I get the impression they’d play it for free. Like noble baseball players of old, real players play for love of the game. There are two basic methods of spitting game, traditional and contemporary. Though any experienced player will be familiar with both styles, some definitely prefer one or the other. The key is to be able to judge a girl well enough to be able to know which style is more likely to be successful. Straightforward, down-to-earth girls are more likely to be attracted to the traditional style, while wilder girls are susceptible to the contemporary mode of play. This said, the traditional style of play tends to work on a larger proportion of the female population. The traditional style of spitting game is characterized by flattery, forthrightness and complimenting. Don’t beat around the bush; let her know that you’re interested. Guys with musical or artistic talent can show this off to impress a girl through the traditional method. Of the two, this is the more honest approach; however, treating a girl with this level of attention early on will lead her to expect it from you in the future. If you intend to hook up with this girl on a regular basis, keeping up this facade of genuine interest in her may become tiresome. If she shows signs of attachment, be wary: She may end up wanting to be your girlfriend.” (The writer promises that an article to follow will focus on the female perspective)

My point is not to endorse or condemn hooking-up and spitting game but rather I bemoan how split off from student culture are all too many of the ruling class in academia.  They are all too often blinded by a politically correct feminist ideology that cuts them off from understanding what is happening on the ground; such is reminiscent of American political leaders who are blinded by their ideological zealotry.

What to do?  No magic bullet, but maybe I AM CHARLOTTE SIMMONS should be required reading for all university administrators.

October 17, 2007 Posted by | dating, hooking-up, political correctness, sexual politics | Leave a comment

Dating in the workplace and the university place

The NY Times has reported that office dating is becoming more acceptable, that is, more acceptable in the office.  Not that workplace dating ever decreased in the context of sexual harassment indoctrination which demanded one adhere to the line that office dating was a no-no since it could end up in an office imbroglio or some co-worker might become offended or upset or envious that he or she was not the chosen and such could end up representing a hostile work environment.  No matter that most or almost all of the office mates might feel great that true love was blooming in their midst; always lurking in the background could be the unloved waiting to take weighty action against the loved ones and their employers.  No wonder that office romance had become closeted romance.  But now the Times report there is change and these changes in the workplace and the accompanying concerns and issues also have relevance to dating in the university place. Excerpts from the Times article follows.

“An online survey this year by CareerBuilder.com found a significant drop in the number of workers who are keeping an office romance a secret, down from 46 percent in 2005 to 34 percent in 2007. About half of workers say they have dated a co-worker, according to CareerBuilder.com surveys conducted annually for the last three years.

The taboo of the affaire de cubicle has lost some potency, but exactly how much is difficult to gauge as statistics vary from survey to survey. Still, “you see quite a bit of emphasis on work-life balance,” said Jennifer Sullivan, who oversaw the CareerBuilder.com survey, conducted by Harris Interactive. Companies, she said, are allowing more flexibility versus having a handbook dictate how employees need to behave and what those relationships should look like in the office.

As a result, she added, “people are much more open about their relationships.”

Every workplace culture is different, with some less tolerant of office dating. A survey last year by the Society for Human Resource Management and CareerJournal.com found that, over all, there was fading concern about potential sexual harassment allegations (77 percent were concerned about it in 2005, down from 95 percent in 2001) but increasing concern that office dating could cause conflict among jilted lovers.

To that end there are now magazine articles and Web sites that not only condone going to work and picking up more than a paycheck, but that also offer advice on how to successfully do so. A book coming out next month, a kind of “The Rules” for the office, would have been difficult to publish in 1991.

In “Office Mate: The Employee Handbook for Finding – and Managing – Romance on the Job” (Adams Media, November 2007), the writers Stephanie Losee and Helaine Olen (who both married colleagues) say the workplace is the new village – and therefore an ideal place to find love.

Ms. Losee said the growing acceptance of office dating (not to be confused with a hookup) is something of a backlash against dating Web sites. “I’m not surprised that the Internet has not proven to be the locus of community we thought it would be,” she said, citing the notion in Robert D. Putnam’s book, “Bowling Alone,” that “we need to be physically near each other to feel happier and better in our everyday lives.”

“Where do we still have that physical proximity of neighborhoodliness?” she said. “It’s at the office.”

Well, the dankprofessor must agree that physical proximity or neighborhoodliness should be ideal for the blooming of romance.  In the social science literature this was called the principle of propinquity.  Of course, internet dating did away with the necessity of any physical proximity. But the girl next store or the guy in the next seat still had its pull and its convenience.  Get a whole bunch of people together who are eminently eligible and one will find dating and mating.

Such, of course, is the situation in regards to university life, thousands exuding eligibility in a community setting of a university. The fact that most of the university citizenry are students and a minority faculty members does not represent any “natural” boundary to romance.  Such should not be shocking to anyone that it has never been infrequent that men who are older and of higher status are found to be attractive by females, including female students attracted to professors.

Some puritanical feminists such as  Billy Dziech simply discard the professor who is sexually responsive to a female student as being lecherous.  Others discard the professor as being hung up on young women; as being on a power trip; as someone who should grow up and date women their own age.  Others go further and view such professors as dangerous predators who victimize young girls who are unable to provide consent and who merit excommunication from the university.

Myself, I take a very pedestrian view based on the principle of propinquity.  Eligible men will wish to date eligible women who are physically proximate and who they find attractive.  Such also applies to women.  Such also applies to female students and male professors.  No big deal. No rule, no ideologues no matter how motivated, will prevent such dating and mating. Driving student/professors into the closet yes; stopping such romances absolutely no. Can one seriously entertain the notion that such sexual repression could be effective knowing that a millenium of vicious anti-homosexuality did not prevent men and women from engaging in same sex affections?  Of course, effective repression was driving homosexually attracted men and women into the closet.  In essence the dominant society wanted qay people to be out of sight and therefore out of mind.  The “good” homosexuals were the homosexuals who did not flaunt, the good homosexuals were not seen as part of a homosexual couple but rather as good friends.

However, in today’s academic world all too many campuses are characterized by a hypersensitivity toward any male professor/female student interaction which in some subtle manner might indicate a sexual component.  Some people will impute a sexual component if the two persons stand close to each other; if there is a hug that is reciprocated; if the professor and student are simply talking and walking across campus, etc.  The campus presentations of a professor and student involved with each other are often no different than everyday interactions between a non romantically involved student and professor.  Consequently, almost anyone could become suspect.  Such may be in part the  reason for the increasing impersonality of American  universities.

In addition, university environments without bureaucratically imposed fraternization bans could very well be safer settings for dating and mating.  After all, if people study together, teach and learn together on a frequent basis, it is more likely that those who become romantically involved know each other pretty well prior to the romance blooming.  No need for blind dating.  As stated in the Times article- 

“People who work together have time to get to know one another, Ms. Losee and Ms. Olen said in interviews, to see how potential paramours behave under stress or how they treat the secretary. Unlike online daters, singles in the workplace are less likely to dismiss a good catch based on snap judgments. Take Ms. Losee’s husband, who is shorter than her and who liked to wear an oversize linen jacket, she said, that leaves something to be desired. “If I met him at a bar I would not have given him a chance,” she said. So perhaps, the authors suggest, a gal need not kiss as many frogs if she is allowed to kiss Kenneth from payroll. But does that mean she should?”

Of course, the dankprofessor does not advocate that she should, what I do advocate is that it is her and his decision to make.


If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submiited for consideration to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor.

© Copyright 2007

October 16, 2007 Posted by | attractive students, consensual relationships, corporate dating bans, dating, ethics, fraternization, higher education, student professor dating, Uncategorized | 2 Comments


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