October
25th 2010
Teaching while non-white and female

Posted under: Gender, Intersectionality, jobs, students, the body, unhappy endings, wankers, women's history

Inside Higher Ed’s new-ish blog, University of Venus, last week featured this post by an anonymous female faculty member of color:

I was teaching one of my mid-level courses last semester. The first assignment for the class was a reflection paper on students’ socialization experiences within their own families. Usually students write about unsurprising things: the toys they played with, the clothes they wore, the sports and extra-curricular activities they took part in, etc. But last semester, one of my male students turned in a paper which read like a trashy memoir of sexual exploits. The inappropriateness of the paper’s content was matched only by the crudeness of its language. When I confronted him, he refused to acknowledge any wrong-doing and insisted instead on questioning his grade on that paper for the rest of the semester, over the summer, and now in the fall. He spent most of the rest of our class meetings last semester with his arms crossed and eyes locked on me. Sometimes he would stay back in his seat, still with his arms crossed, eyes still fixed on me, while the classroom emptied and I packed up my things. The fact that he is a lacrosse player is a significant detail. On my campus (and apparently some others too according to urbandictionary.com) they are known as “lax bros”- and they engage in behavior that epitomizes college life for at least some male athletes – partying hard, drinking, and acting aggressively.

Right after my confrontation with this student about his first paper, I shot my usual line to my husband, who is also an academic: “this would never happen to you!” And then I realized there were other things that were happening that I doubt happen to him or other male faculty. Based on the content of the student’s paper, and his behavior towards me, it was very clear that he saw me not as a professor but as a sexualized, “exotic” woman. I became acutely aware of my body language and my clothes. I found myself often quickly checking the buttons on my shirt during class to make sure they were all buttoned. I felt awkward turning around to write something at length on the board. I found myself limiting my physicality in other ways, like not sitting on top of the desk as I often do during discussion sessions. I started scheduling students back to back during office hours, if he wanted to meet with me, just so there would be a crowd of students outside my door when he was inside my office. And I made sure that I wasn’t the last person to leave the classroom. I understand that male professors are sometimes viewed sexually by their students. But I think the consequences of that are very different. I wonder if male professors have to worry about being the last person to leave the classroom, if they wonder what kind of predicament the next bad grade they give out is going to land them in.

Read the whole thing.  If you’re either non-white or female or both, can you relate?  If you’re a white man, have you seen or heard of this kind of reaction from students to some of your colleages?  Have you ever had the experience of one malign student whose presence and attitude affected the other students and perhaps your own behavior and leadership of the class?  Why do students like this enroll in our classes?  It’s a busy day for me at my day job, so (after Linda Richman) I’ll just say, “Talk amongst yourselves.”

89 Comments »

89 Responses to “Teaching while non-white and female”

  1. bardiac on 25 Oct 2010 at 10:12 am #

    The comments are striking, aren’t they?

    I don’t experience what my colleagues who are women of color do, but I hear them, and they report similar behavior with fair frequency, almost always from white male students. As a white woman, I get some gender specific misbehaviors, but orders of magnitude less than what I hear from colleagues who are women of color.

    My question, then, is how do faculty to whom this isn’t happening support our colleagues?

    The first step, I think, is to hear them with respect, to hear them without making excuses for the students or blaming our colleagues, to hear them tell the truth about their experience.

    What are the other steps we can take?

  2. GayProf on 25 Oct 2010 at 10:36 am #

    Last year I had a white-straight-male student who submitted a sexually inappropriate paper to me as well (Rather than engaging with the texts, he used his “personal” experience as evidence). In ten years of teaching, it was the first time I had ever seen such a thing. This student was also extremely hostile to the content and direction of the course. During class, he often attempted to hijack the conversation and/or silence other students, especially women students. He oozed hostility toward me and, at times, I really wondered about what he might be capable of doing.

    In the era of Glenn Beck, where all intellectuals are suspicious, I think that women, people-of-color, and queer academics (and the various intersections therein) have come to represent ideological targets. Trying to unnerve these faculty members or disrupt their classes has become a means to make a political statement. So, in these instances the actual scholarship or ideas presented by faculty members gets subsumed under assumptions about their individual and personal identities. Such students then imagine that their own personal identities and experience can offer the requisite “challenge.” Rather, than you know, actually thinking and stuff.

  3. koshem bos on 25 Oct 2010 at 11:03 am #

    Interactions between male and female centered around the classroom are quite common. A student of my was teaching an undergraduate class and fathered a child with a female student in that class. It ended up in court. Two faculty members are married to former female students in their respective classes.

    The stories circulation in my school there are quite crude exchanges with offers of vacations, trips, etc. The females, typically, involved suffer even of they complain. There are many ethnic groups involved but none of them is colored. There are Asians, Europeans, Middle Easterners, etc.

    It seems to me that the post in point derives its poignancy from the hoodlum involved rather than the racial or sexual aspect. In general, up to some age, some teacher involvement will happen frequently and not necessarily as an exchange of grades for whatever. As long as you know where the limit is it doesn’t turn into harassment of exploitation.

  4. Anonymous on 25 Oct 2010 at 11:20 am #

    I cannot comment about how frequently I have to deal with this as a young single white male professor compared to others, but I must note that I find myself on the receiving end of sexual harassment roughly once every other semester. I have also found it necessary to protect myself (professionally rather than physically) by ensuring that I was never alone in the same room with some students – or at minimum be in my office with the door open and the desk between myself and them.

  5. Historiann on 25 Oct 2010 at 11:53 am #

    Anonymous–what do you mean by “sexual harassment?” From senior colleages? Because if you’re talking about students flirting or coming on to you, I don’t think that’s harassment.

    At least, I’ve always understood harassment to mean unwelcome overtures or pressure for dates/outside of work contact from a superior or someone who outranks one. The power differential, and not just the behavior, is the key.

  6. Historiann on 25 Oct 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    To continue: I think Bardiac asks the right question, namely, “how do faculty to whom this isn’t happening support our colleagues?”

    A few years ago, I commented on column by Rose Stremlau in which she talked about the sexually suggestive and/or demeaning comments she receives on her teaching evaluations. (See the blog post here.) At first I thought that removing these comments from a faculty member’s file was the right thing to do–after all, they have no value in assessing the teaching, and the demeaning comments become part of her permanent record at her uni. That doesn’t seem fair.

    However, I’ve come to believe that those comments should stand as evidence of the challenges faced by non-white and/or non-male and/or queer faculty that have nothing to do with our skills as teachers or knowledge of our subject area/s. But in order for them NOT to be just a poisonous snake in a faculty member’s permanent record, they need to be commented on and analyzed by the reviewing department. They need to be pointed out and condemned, so that a department tenure and promotion committee can make a fair evaluation of the faculty member’s teaching challenges and teaching work.

  7. Anonymous on 25 Oct 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    It is in fact student behavior that I am referring to here, and it is important to note that there is not a one-way power relationship between students and most faculty. While faculty do have control over students grades, students have control over the careers of non-tenured faculty members, which is something that came up in the thread over at IHE.

  8. JackDanielsBlack on 25 Oct 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    Hmmm–here’s something to ask yourselves–if this tale was of a white female professor and a black male athlete student, would your reaction have been the same? How about a white male professor and a black female athlete? Unless your answer is “yes” in both cases, you are not being consistent. And I personally think that football players are much more likely to commit mayhem than lacrosse players. Are there some stereotypes at work here? After the mob mentality and persecution of the Duke lacrosse players, I wonder. You can always find an anecdote to support any argument. The important question is, what does the overall data (if there is any) say?

  9. Historiann on 25 Oct 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    Anonymous–it’s true that students have *some* power, but I don’t think it’s right to call student flirting or coming on “harassment.” Students have no power to compel our appearance anywhere, nor do they have the power to judge our performance outside of student evaluations. They may complain to department chairs and deans, but in that case, documenting all strange interactions and making sure that you’re never alone with a student (or any student) is the best policy.

    This post is indeed about the power students have in the classroom and out to make us feel uncomfortable and to make us doubt ourselves. But, to suggest (as Jack does) that this is an equal-opportunity thing and sex and race don’t matter is just silly. A white, male professor has hundreds of models and places to go if he really feels “victimized” by a female student, whereas until recently that hasn’t been the case for women and POC faculty harassed by male colleagues or superiors or subjected to disrespect from their students. But the fact is that most female students don’t feel the same sense of sexual/gender entitlement that male students can feel, especially w/r/t a professor who looks different from his other professors.

    I have white, male professor friends who have been made uncomfortable by a (male or female) student’s coming on to them, but it’s not nearly the same thing as the student’s behavior described in the blog post I linked to.

  10. Dr. Crazy on 25 Oct 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    JDB – I don’t have data for the world, but I do have data for my university. Female faculty consistently get lower aggregate numbers on evaluations, as well as sexualized or otherwise inappropriate written feedback, as do faculty of color, when compared with male faculty. From what I know (though others who have references will need to back me up on this), it’s fairly widely documented that these are issues that are common within higher education. This isn’t about “finding” an anecdote to “support any argument” but rather a discussion of an anecdote that illustrates data.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve had a number of students – mostly straight men, but also gay men, and straight and gay women – turn in overtly and inappropriately sexual/crude essays to me – in part because I’m young-ish and female (I think) and in part because of the content that I teach in my courses. Through those experiences, as well as others, I’ve decided that at least part of those situations do trace back to me – to me not asserting my authority clearly in the classroom, to me not devising assignments carefully enough – but also that I do have the power, as the instructor, to manage that sort of behavior in my classroom (and this even before tenure). Sure, this sort of situation is totally gendered and totally sexualized (I think), but I *also* think that it is possible to approach this sort of situation pragmatically and to have it turn out much more positively than the situation described in the post.

    For what it’s worth, as a college student, I wrote a couple of totally inappropriately sexual/crude essays for professors just to see what they would do. I didn’t like or respect them, and I didn’t want to do what they told me to do, or I wanted to do it in such a way that it would make them rue the day that they gave me an assignment that I thought was a waste of my time. It was aggressive, and it was on purpose. I think this sort of behavior is about acting out and pushing boundaries, and I think that while gender is obviously a component, there are other factors (maturity being one of them) in play, too.

  11. Ruviana on 25 Oct 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    Just a note on lacrosse players,many smaller schools don’t have a football team and the lacrosse team fills that niche. Hockey teams do too, at my institution they alternate a bit, based on the season for the sport. I went to a Big Pac eleventy-twelve school for my phd and the football players were definitely spoiled and mayhem-oriented. Think of the lacrosse players at slacs as sort of a B-team.

  12. Flavia on 25 Oct 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    I’ve never had this kind of problem, but I know people who have. They are disproportionately women, but I do know two straight white men who have had students (both male and female) doing similar things: showing up continually at office hours and making suggestive comments, accosting their spouses in threatening ways, writing sexually explicit things on RMP.com or on their official evaluations or to their department chairs.

    This is a problem that’s overwhelmingly faced by minorities (including women and gays), and that typically involves cognitively normal male students — and it deserves to be treated as such. But there are disturbed students who target men, too.

  13. Anonymous on 25 Oct 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    We may have to agree to disagree on this one. FWIW, if a student threatens to bring a formal complaint to a chair regarding a grade, but makes it clear that it would go away if the faculty member submitted to a sexual advance, then I think it qualifies as sexual harassment.

  14. Historiann on 25 Oct 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    Anonymous–a *threat* to do this is immoral and unethical, and it’s certainly annoying, but it’s not harassment in my view, because you as a professor have more power than she does. I hope you’ve been in touch with your department chair about this throughout the semester.

    This is another reason why I’m completely against professor-student sexual/romantic relationships. It’s easier to refute supurious accusations of inappropriate behavior if one doesn’t date other students. (I’m not saying you do, Anonymous–I don’t know of course, but

    Dr. Crazy said it very well: “This isn’t about “finding” an anecdote to “support any argument” but rather a discussion of an anecdote that illustrates data.”

  15. Western Dave on 25 Oct 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    I’m straight, white, male, and slight. As an instructor of undergrads for eight years, I had exactly one inappropriate interaction with a student – a hockey player tried to bribe me with tickets. I had no idea what to do and just left them on the desk. I had one female student ask me out… after the course was over using the pretext of “meeting me to go over her finale.” She was perfectly nice when I indicated I wasn’t interested. My female colleagues, not so much. Constant aggressive offers for dates in those years. Now I teach high school in a girls school. The closest I get to being sexually harassed is when girls try to use menstruation as an excuse to get out of class all the time. (“You used that excuse last week, do you need to see a doctor?”) It worked on one male faculty member but he left. We do teach some boys in some classes from the boys’ school across the street. I have had girls with crushes on me and it is kind of cute. The only bad part is the girl might try to take over a class or come to my room and hang out when I need to work. For my female colleagues, such crushes from boys are a nightmare. The boys ask them to prom, threaten boyfriends and husbands etc..

    When it comes to parents, I have it even easier. Parents immediately respect me in ways they don’t with my white female colleagues, and colleagues of color. I try to support my colleagues in interactions with parents by reminding them that my colleagues are awesome teachers who know what they are doing. My US survey class is also a not-so-subtle history of whiteness class that gets at white privilege, so I’m trying to come at it from that angle as well.

    There’s a class angle here as well. I’m not one of the best teachers in the school but I have all the right degrees so the kids think I’m a good teacher. One of the best teachers in the school has a degree from a state teachers college. While most kids immediately give me respect, she had to earn it from them until her reputation was so awesome that she no longer has to (except with some of the boys, see above).

    Also, the sexually inappropriate paper thing started popping up here with some of the boys about two years ago. A new phenomenon. The most egregious example was in environmental science class. It went to disciplinary committee and punishment was severe.

  16. Anonymous on 25 Oct 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    This happened in the past, at a different institution, and the chair was naturally informed immediately. I agree with you on the relationship front. And by the way, the anecdote was the reason for the argument, not the other way around. Peace.

  17. Emma on 25 Oct 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    At least, I’ve always understood harassment to mean unwelcome overtures or pressure for dates/outside of work contact from a superior or someone who outranks one. The power differential, and not just the behavior, is the key.

    That is quid pro quo harassment, more or less: employment benefits/detriments are conditioned on one’s acceptance/rejection of sexual advances by a supervisor. That is, turn down your boss’s sexual advance and get fired.

    But there is also hostile environment harassment in which harassers create a hostile environment for someone based on their sex, race, national origin, etc. This can come from superiors or co-workers and, in one case IIRC, from customers. Such harassment can consist of unwelcome comments, physical touching, defacement of property, emails or other correspondence, things of that nature. The range of behavior here is pretty wide reaching, but typically people think of it as coming to work and being called n***** or b**** or c*** by your co-workers or supervisors, for the most egregious of examples.

    Can students create a hostile environment for professors? Undoubtedly so — I saw it at my law school and have heard of Yale Law students’ infamous “hissing” at professors they deem unworthy of Yale Law.

    If students create this hostile environment on the basis of the professor’s race, sex, national origin, etc. is the university or college liable? Good question. There’s a good argument for yes, as it’s the employer’s failure to correct the hostile environment which puts it on the hook legally speaking.

  18. JackDanielsBlack on 25 Oct 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    Historiann and Dr. Crazy, I think for once I agree with you–in any properly run institution, the faculty should have the power to put a stop to this by warning the student, then throwing him/her out or having him/her transferred, etc. Faculty must be able to teach without fearing their students. Seems to me that this sort of thing should be treated the same way physical threats would be treated.

    There was a play (later a movie) by David Mamet called Oleanna that touches on a topic similar to this, only in the play the female student accuses the professor of sexual harassment. In the play, as I recall it, it’s not clear what really happened, but the professor’s career is ruined. I am not in academe, so I will ask you folks — do you think there is more likelihood that a disgruntled student will harass his/her teacher, or will accuse the teacher of sexual harassment? It seems to me that the second course could have more serious consequences for the teacher, but a lot would depend on the situation, the sex and credibility of the teacher and student, etc.

  19. Historiann on 25 Oct 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    Thanks, Emma–perhaps I was being too restrictive in my definition of harassment. But, it seems like a big difference between (for example) threatening to file a complaint UNLESS one goes on a date, and the kind of stalkerish, potentially violent behavior that Western Dave describes as happening to his female colleagues.

    Jack–I’ve heard of a lot of students (undergrad and grad) and assistant professors whose lives and careers were severely and negatively affected by sexual advances/harassment from professors, but I’ve never heard of a professor’s career being affected let alone seriously derailed by an accusation of sexual harassment by a student. In the cases I know of, the students and junior colleagues of the harassers changed their coursework/dropped out/or resigned to get away from their harassers, or they just lived in fear of a reprisal that never came. Nevertheless, the price was paid by the victims in all cases, never the perps.

    I always thought Oleanna was more an expression of a powerful man’s fear of being undone by a subordinate female. I never thought it represented university power relations as I have observed and/or experienced them. I fortunately was never sexually harassed, either as a student or as a professor by a senior colleague. I feel lucky, given the number of women (and one man) I know who were victims of sexual harassment either as students or on the job.

  20. Dickens Reader on 25 Oct 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    “The closest I get to being sexually harassed is when girls try to use menstruation as an excuse to get out of class all the time. (“You used that excuse last week, do you need to see a doctor?”) It worked on one male faculty member but he left.”

    Western Dave, I don’t agree with your use of the term sexually harassed in your example. You were not sexually harassed, not even close. You were however a target of a failed sexual politicking campaign, as in using a female specific condition in order to garner a desired result, —but you were not harassed.

  21. Dr. Crazy on 25 Oct 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    JDB – from my experience (and obviously others might have other experiences), I’d say that accusations of harassment or inappropriate behavior toward the professor bear no relationship to whether the student has “cause” or is disgruntled with the professor for some reason. My experience is that a student who is, for whatever reason, a problem in this regard begins the semester with this sort of behavior and targets the professor for reasons that have nothing to do with the instructor’s performance or evaluation of the student’s work. In other words, it’s not actually “about” the instructor or the class in any objective way, but rather about the student pushing a boundary, whether in response to a stereotype about the instructor’s identity or in response to something else (like a perception of “sexual” or “feminist” course content and what that means in terms of permissible behavior).

  22. Emma on 25 Oct 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    But, it seems like a big difference between (for example) threatening to file a complaint UNLESS one goes on a date, and the kind of stalkerish, potentially violent behavior that Western Dave describes as happening to his female colleagues.

    I would agree that a single verbal threat to file a single complaint unless, say, a professor changed a grade would not create a hostile working environment. Ideally, a threat to file an assumedly false complaint would be taken care of at the outset to prevent the creation of a hostile environment over time.

    It’s worth asking, I think: what empowers and/or disempowers students to act out against professors?

    I wouldn’t, for a minute, have considered submitting an inappropriate crude, sexually explict, and/or sexually violent paper to a professor. It would never have occurred to me that I could get away with it without serious damage to my grades and/or reputation with people who I needed to write recommendations.

    I find it hard to believe that any student who did so would be able to get recommendations sufficient for admission to grad school, say. IMO, it goes beyond the normal immaturity one would find in college students and speaks to intent to do harm.

    So, what empowers some students, at least, to do it? In particular cases, one could certainly point to a culture of entitlement fostered by the University/College itself for male athletes, and only male athletes, for example. Which would make an interesting case for a hostile environment claim.

  23. JackDanielsBlack on 25 Oct 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    Historiann, that’s odd–I just did a bing search on “sexual harassment charges against professors” and got 550,000 hits. I am sure some were irrelevant and many were duplicate cases, but glancing over the first couple of pages, many seemed like bona fide hits–one involving a medical school professor, and another a person who was dismissed without even a hearing (though they later reconsidered after he sued them in Federal court.) Do a search yourself and see what you think.

  24. Dr. Crazy on 25 Oct 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    “I find it hard to believe that any student who did so would be able to get recommendations sufficient for admission to grad school, say. IMO, it goes beyond the normal immaturity one would find in college students and speaks to intent to do harm. ”

    Emma, this sort of thing is *really* common in first year college writing classes, as well as general education literature courses, women’s studies courses, etc. (perhaps not papers about sexual violence, but papers with crude language, sexually provocative content, etc. are par for the course) in part because students are trying to figure out the difference between high school and college. It’s seriously not abnormal, and not every student who does it is pathological.

    Also, yes, a student who does this can ultimately get recs for grad school, as I can attest because I did this sort of crap and got recs for grad school (though admittedly not from those professors). At least in my case, I pulled this sort of stuff, as I noted above, to test boundaries and out of a lack of respect for the individual professor (in my case, straight, male professors). I questioned whether the professors were actually reading what I wrote, so I tested them. Or I knew I’d get away with it because I was the strongest student in the course and I was consistently ignored and didn’t feel like I was actually being taught anything. I’m not saying that it was ok that I did that, but that’s where I was coming from. Now, I was a female student, and a very good student, so surely I got a pass on some of this stuff because of that. Looking back, I was a student who pushed my luck a lot, and who lots of people here would call entitled. But I think it’s important to note that just because we might not have ever considered doing x thing (whether it’s submitting an assignment with crude language, plagiarizing, cheating, whatever) it doesn’t mean that a student who does those or other things is a Bad Seed who cannot be redeemed.

  25. JackDanielsBlack on 25 Oct 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    Oh–and don’t forget Naomi Wolf’s charges against Harold Bloom several years ago–created quite a hubbub at the time, with many folks criticizing her for coming forward as she did.

  26. quixote on 25 Oct 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    It sounds like things have gotten worse. I’ve taught mainly pre-meds who are beyond grade-conscious. Grade-obsessed is more like it. So maybe the problem is less evident with that population, since they feel their dependence on their profs deeply. But I’d never heard of any faculty member having to deal with what sound like porn screeds. Either I was oblivious (could easily be) or this is a recent outgrowth of a pornified culture. Another blow to the idea that people have no trouble separating fantasy from reality.

    As for male faculty paranoia about harassment claims from female students, it’s a real fear. My partner received a cc’ed email from a student sent to the Dean, in which she excoriated him for inappropriate behavior. He’d never heard of her. Turned out, this was about a professor in a different Division and she’d put the wrong email address in the list. But before that got cleared up, he was racing around to his Chair, Dean, and Vice-President, saying it couldn’t be him, having sleepless nights, and going through layers of review.

    I have to admit, I used it as a teachable moment. Horrible, isn’t it, I pointed out, when people could make up their minds about you based on their own preconceived notions and ruin your life. Welcome to my world.

  27. token undergrad on 25 Oct 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    In fairness to the students who turn in crude/sexually explicit papers, it can often be very challenging to negotiate how to write responsibly and academically about sexually-related topics. As an undergrad who does a lot of coursework in queer theory and the history of sexuality, it’s been difficult for me to learn when, for example, it’s necessary to talk explicitly about sexual practices and sex acts, and when it’s superfluous; and, when it *is* necessary to do so, what the correct vocab is to use. While perhaps the content of those crude papers you folks are talking about is more obviously inappropriate than the missteps I know I’ve made, and written with deliberate intent to offend, I’d be inclined in general to give folks who are writing about sexuality topics for the first time the benefit of the doubt.

    My sense is that most reasonable people in my academic world (private, fancy-pants R1) know where to draw boundaries of professionality with respect to not hitting on teachers, and that few lax bros will *consciously* behave inappropriately to their professors who are women and/or people of color (though many may need to have their unconscious sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. pointed out to them). The problems, however, tend to come when grad student instructors are running classrooms: there seems to be a lot of legitimate confusion here about whether coming on to grad students is appropriate, and how to manage relationships with grad students who go from being your friend to being your instructor (this has happened to several people I know). I think that can translate into unequivocally inappropriate behavior à la the harassment you folks have been discussing: if there is a question about what is permissible, it is easier to get away with things which are actually obviously impermissible. I think many lax bro types will behave inappropriately with (in particular female) GSIs where they wouldn’t with (in particular female) professors.

  28. Comrade Svilova on 25 Oct 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    I’ve never heard of a professor’s career being affected let alone seriously derailed by an accusation of sexual harassment by a student

    Anecdata here, but a professor in my program is notorious for sexually harassing students — everything from “nice ass” comments to inappropriate physical contact (hugging and kissing female students in class and in the hallway) and the faculty are all aware of the situation (some female faculty even having been harassed themselves). But he has tenure and connections in the administration, and after over a decade of student complaints and periodic attempts to make our case to administration, he is still teaching and all students in the major are required to take at least two courses with him, one of which requires one-on-one meetings.

    Sorry to go off topic, but I felt the need to respond to the idea that students accusations of sexual harassment are always taken seriously. Not quite…

    To bring this comment back on-topic, it is interesting to see how this professor (who is white, wealthy, and of course, male) specifically targeted women, gay men, and faculty of color for his harassment. And the story posted at University of Venus is interesting (upsetting) because it shows how *even when* a person is in a position of authority, others will ignore that authority simply because of the group(s) to which that person belongs. In the case I described, the professor has institutionalized power on all fronts (he is in a position of authority, with white and male privilege, moneyed, and a member of the Good Old Boys Club). For someone who is female and/or a PoC, it is still not enough for hir to be granted authority technically; without those markers of privilege ze can *still* be subject to harassment.

  29. truffula on 25 Oct 2010 at 4:03 pm #

    Jack, I just googled UFO sightings minnesota and got 1,410,000 hits. What’s your point?

  30. JackDanielsBlack on 25 Oct 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    truffula, that’s odd–I only got 686,000. My point is, contra Historiann, there are plenty of newsreports (including some from the Chronicle of Higher Education) of professors being accused of sexual harassment by students. Now, may I ask, what’s your point? And are you sure you really googled UFO sightings minnesota?

  31. Comrade Svilova on 25 Oct 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    JDB, according to your post you found examples of accusations, not necessarily of careers being ruined. Historiann said “I’ve never heard of a professor’s career being affected let alone seriously derailed by an accusation of sexual harassment by a student” — not that such accusations aren’t made.

    The one example you cite is one in which the accuser got a lot of grief for actually making things public.

    You wrote: don’t forget Naomi Wolf’s charges against Harold Bloom several years ago–created quite a hubbub at the time, with many folks criticizing her for coming forward as she did

    And your point is?

    Sorry if my tone is confrontational. Having been criticized for taking a public stand about by desire to NOT be hugged and kissed by my professor, and told that I should just go with the flow and hug him if need be to keep my grades up, this topic addresses a very personal grievance for me. I will try not to talk about it again here since I know that this is not the topic of this thread. My apologies, Historiann.

  32. JackDanielsBlack on 25 Oct 2010 at 5:22 pm #

    CS, sorry for your bad experience. If you google “sexual harassment charges against professors” you will quickly see many cases where faculty were dismissed, and even when they are not, such charges are not helpful to one’s career. And in many cases, the harasser is going after more than one person, and multiple charges have more weight. But if nobody says anything, they get away with it. I brought up Naomi Wolf for a different reason — looks to me that she got caught up in the politics of feminism and some feminists went after her. I found this curious. But enough on this — as you say, it isn’t really on topic for this thread. Sometimes I think out loud too much.
    \

  33. A1066 on 25 Oct 2010 at 5:50 pm #

    For the sexual harassment thing ruining professors’ careers, that’s a bit of a joke. In my department, where I am a graduate student, we just had a huge conflagration where a graduate student accused a professor (who had been accused before and was well known amongst graduate students as a person to avoid) of giving her ‘the bad touch’. Nothing happened beyond a lot of handwringing and now they require graduate students who teach to take a mandatory online class about sexual harassment. He still has his tenure, his book contracts, his multiple research assistants and his swank corner office.

    However, I have seen, (and this may be the result of a power imbalance with graduate students teaching in the classroom) examples where students have run female graduate students out of their classrooms with consistent harassment — either through direct disruption of the class, derailment of the conversation, use of derogatory language and exceedingly unpleasant and unfounded student evaluations. One of my colleagues had such a consistent problem with several members of her class that the department sent in another older (white male) graduate student to evaluate what the problem was in her class. He had to ask several of the boys to leave (and they are always boys) and reported to the department that she hadn’t done anything wrong.

    My experience, assisting both female and male professors, is that female professors are more frequently the target of overtly aggressive behavior by male students.

    Just my two cents.

  34. Comrade PhysioProf on 25 Oct 2010 at 6:05 pm #

    But, to suggest (as Jack does) that this is an equal-opportunity thing and sex and race don’t matter is just silly.

    Silly? I’d call it a nasty vicious ahistorical lie intentionally promulgated by selfish privileged pigs seeking to obfuscate their own privilege.

  35. Comrade Svilova on 25 Oct 2010 at 6:07 pm #

    I think A1066 said more clearly what I had intended to say; that more typically when faculty do the harassing, it is white, cis male faculty (not always, of course) and when it is faculty who are harassed, it is non-white, non-cis male faculty who are harassed (again, not always).

    It’s less one’s power within the institution than one’s institutional privilege that matters.

    And in many cases, the harasser is going after more than one person, and multiple charges have more weight. But if nobody says anything, they get away with it.

    Not always, though (see A1066′s story and mine about people who weather multiple accusations without any impact). The generalizations you’re making ignore a widespread problem in academia.

    I know I said I wouldn’t return to this topic, JDB, but I find the way you’ve addressed this tangent to be a bit similar to the myths about the prevalence of false rape accusations. It feels like a derail from “sexual harassment against women” to address “false charges of sexual harassment [far more typically assumed to be charges women brought against men].” Could be just me, but when you originally brought up the question, it read like you were suggesting that the real thing faculty need to be afraid of is not the intimidation described by the anonymous WoC professor but rather false sexual harassment charges.

    I know you may have just been asking which is more likely to happen, but then, as others have asked, what is your point?

  36. Feminist Avatar on 25 Oct 2010 at 6:13 pm #

    Hear, hear to Comrade PhysioProf.

  37. Sharon on 25 Oct 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    In 2008, two (white male) professors at the University of Iowa committed suicide after being accused of sexual harassment. Thing is, every evidence is that they were both serial offenders and chose suicide rather than face the public and private consequences of their conduct. One was facing prosecution in court for accepting bribes: he traded grades for access to undergraduate women’s breasts. So those men’s careers were certainly derailed, but not by accusations. Their actions derailed their careers.

    And I have never heard of false accusations derailing anyone’s career. I once knew a woman who was falsely accused, and it caused her some misery in the short term. But it didn’t derail her career by any measure.

    JDB: ufo sightings minnesota: 818,000. Seriously, you do know that you cannot step in the same internet twice, right? Google the same search string every day for the next week, and you’ll get a different number every time.

  38. JackDanielsBlack on 25 Oct 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    CS, if you go back and read the relevant post, you will see that I simply asked a question, to wit:

    “do you think there is more likelihood that a disgruntled student will harass his/her teacher, or will accuse the teacher of sexual harassment? It seems to me that the second course could have more serious consequences for the teacher, but a lot would depend on the situation, the sex and credibility of the teacher and student, etc.”

    When Historiann said she had never heard of a professor’s career being derailed by a sexual harassment accusation by a student, I binged this topic and found several examples in the first five pages or so of a 600,000+ hit response. I could list some of the headlines here, but you can easily verify this yourself.

    I didn’t “suggest” anything about the relevant prevalence of harassment by a student versus false accusation, I simply asked a question, so I’m not quite sure what to make of your question “what is your point”? A question doesn’t have a point, other than to get an answer. I did express the opinion that an accusation of sexual harassment would have more serious consequences, but I did not address the relative frequency of the two types of injustice, nor did I make any assumptions (as you do) about the sex of the offender in each case.

    But I do think that it is easily verifiable that, contra Historiann, professors do get dismissed for sexually harassing students. All it takes is a simple google or bing to verify this.

  39. Emma on 25 Oct 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    Amen to CPP.

    So, what happens to the students who “push boundaries” with graphically inappropriate papers?

    And is there a way to distinguish “youthful acting out” from malintent?

    Because, I gotta say, if you do it, I’m going to assume you mean to cause harm. And absent some pretty strong evidence otherwise, I am going to consider you a jackass, at best, for the foreseeable future.

    And is anyone saying that the author of the paper in question here was merely acting out or pushing boundaries?

  40. Emma on 25 Oct 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    But I do think that it is easily verifiable that, contra Historiann, professors do get dismissed for sexually harassing students. All it takes is a simple google or bing to verify this.

    There’s a reason people don’t cite to “Bing” or “Google” or “the internet” for their research papers. It ain’t research. Duh.

  41. JackDanielsBlack on 25 Oct 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    As far as I am concerned, “graphically inappropriate papers” should get you kicked out of the class, regardless of intent, sex of submitter, sex of teacher, etc. In the business world in which I worked, just a little teeny bit of this kind of thing would get you fired–and I think that is a good policy. Zero tolerance is the way to put a stop to this.

  42. JackDanielsBlack on 25 Oct 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    Emma, don’t bing or google and you’ll never be confronted with things you don’t want to see. What pops up is articles from student newspapers, commercial newspapers–the kinds of places most folks get their news. And who said anything about doing a research paper? This is more like simple back-of-the-envelope fact verification. I guess it all depends on which you trust more — your preconceptions or your lyin’ eyes!

  43. JackDanielsBlack on 25 Oct 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    CPP, this is great:

    “I’d call it a nasty vicious ahistorical lie intentionally promulgated by selfish privileged pigs seeking to obfuscate their own privilege.”

    It would be fun to program an automatic insult generator that randomly strings together words like this. Or maybe you already did one?

  44. sophylou on 25 Oct 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    I think we’re missing a key point in the original story– that the professor was concerned about what form such a student’s retaliation might take — that she fears the possibility of sexual assault.

  45. LadyProf on 25 Oct 2010 at 9:08 pm #

    JackDanielsBlack, if there are so many real cases where mere accusations of sexual harassment have derailed professors’ careers, could you share a link describing even one? I tried to replicate your googling, curious about your “person who was dismissed without even a hearing (though they later reconsidered after he sued them in Federal court.)”

    Do I have the right person, one Thomas Thibeault of East Georgia College? No self-identified victim accused this man of sexual harassment. Instead, the president of his college summoned him into the presidential office and told him he’d better resign now or his “long history of sexual harassment” would be “made public.” When the professor refused, the president fired him summarily.

    Bad, but not the Oleanna-ish account you seem to have in mind. If women have the power to end men’s careers by accusing them of harassment, you couldn’t prove it by me: I’ve yet to see an instance.

  46. squadratomagico on 25 Oct 2010 at 9:08 pm #

    A tenured full professor at my institution was fired after a charge of inappropriate sexual conduct was brought. OPU forbids professor-student relationships; he had had an ongoing one with a female student for the entire four years of her career, since she was a freshman. She majored in his discipline and took many classes from him; when she graduated, she applied to schools in the field, along with his glowing recommendation, and got a plush scholarship as a result.
    He broke up with her after she graduated; she was angry and brought him up on disciplinary charges. Campus judicial inquiries lasted throughout the next year, and in the end, though tenured, he was fired. He ended up at another college somewhere.
    The thing was, these charges undoubtedly were true. Indeed, at the time he was hired, the rumor was that he was on the market because he had been asked to leave his current position, at a very prestigious institution with one of the leading programs in his field. Coming to OPU was a huge career step down for him. However, since those charges were rumor, and unverified, the hire went ahead.
    After a few years, it became an open secret that he had a relationship with a student, but since it was ongoing, and she was content, she did not bring charges. Only after he ended it did she bring it to the attention of the administration.

  47. LadyProf on 25 Oct 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    Right, sq. I know of a couple of tenured profs who lost their jobs because they were sexual harassers, and we have other data upthread. What I’ve never heard of is a mere accusation, without more, bringing someone down. Or having any harmful effect on anyone’s career.

  48. squadratomagico on 25 Oct 2010 at 9:29 pm #

    No, and in the case I cited the inquiry was quite thorough.

  49. Comrade PhysioProf on 26 Oct 2010 at 4:17 am #

    It would be fun to program an automatic insult generator that randomly strings together words like this. Or maybe you already did one?

    Dude, 99% of what is said here and at Tenured Radical goes “WHOOSH” miles over your head. Why do you even bother?

  50. Miranda on 26 Oct 2010 at 4:46 am #

    And another thread about the harassing of a female by a male becomes derailed by the refrain of “But what about the MEN?! Won’t someone think of the MEN?!” That constantly echoes through the Internet.

    No doubt JackDanielsBlack thinks he’s being original.

  51. JackDanielsBlack on 26 Oct 2010 at 4:54 am #

    LadyProf, where did I say anything about “mere accusations”? Of course, in most cases the accusations are followed by an investigation and administrative (or in some cases legal) action, and I never said otherwise. Looks like on this thread we have folks lined up to put words in my mouth and then castigate me for saying them! And here on this thread we have examples of the kind of thing I was actually talking about, including some provided by you!

    CPP, I bother partially because I enjoy reading your diatribes! I am a student of good invective, and my classroom is wherever you post.

  52. JackDanielsBlack on 26 Oct 2010 at 4:56 am #

    Miranda, would you please point out where I said “But what about the MEN?” Perhaps this is your interpretation, rather than something I actually said?

  53. JackDanielsBlack on 26 Oct 2010 at 5:33 am #

    Just stumbled on this story in today’s online edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education that has some relevance to what we have been discussing (arguing about) here:

    AAUP Accuses Bethune-Cookman U. of Denying Due Process to 7 Dismissed Professors

    By Peter Schmidt

    [Updated with the university's response, 5:14 p.m., U.S. Eastern time]

    An investigative panel of the American Association of University Professors has accused Bethune-Cookman University of denying due process to seven dismissed professors, including four men who, the panel says, were fired for sexual harassment based mainly on hearsay and on complaints from unnamed students relayed to administrators by a consultant.

    You can’t make this stuff up!

  54. Comrade Svilova on 26 Oct 2010 at 6:15 am #

    I think we’re missing a key point in the original story– that the professor was concerned about what form such a student’s retaliation might take — that she fears the possibility of sexual assault.

    From her description, it does sound like the student may be intentionally giving off that vibe in retaliation for the bad grade — whether or not he intends to actually take action, the mere threat of sexual assault is, of course, extremely intimidating. I’ve definitely seen overly aggressive male behavior directed at faculty and there’s often a different flavor in the aggression depending upon the gender of the professor.

    When I was a TA, a student continually flirted with me, and when I repeatedly indicated that our relationship had to be strictly professional, he upped the ante by shouting sexual comments at me in class, staring fixedly at me, and in other ways making it very uncomfortable for me to be in the class. His behavior escalated to stalker-ish actions that made me a bit concerned about my personal safety, especially since I was living on campus at the time. Race wasn’t a factor in this case, as we are both white, but gender definitely made the situation more intimidating and frightening for me than I believe it would be for a male professor similarly harassed by a female student … and I think it is far less common for female students to act out on crushes in such a fashion. Stalking is always scary, but men (in general) are less afraid of sexual assault by women than vice versa.

    Of course, in the original example, a crush wasn’t part of the scenario at all. However, just as it’s possible for a student to act out as the result of a bad grade, I think it can also happen as the result of other kinds of disappointments, and it’s a shame that this type of revenge sometimes takes the shape of sexualized intimidation. But that’s rape culture for you, I guess.

  55. Historiann on 26 Oct 2010 at 8:07 am #

    “But that’s rape culture for you, I guess.”

    Indeed. This discussion has been pushed into sounding like many about rape, in that we hear that the real harm of sexual harassment (like rape) is that a man might be falsely accused of it and suffer terrible professional and personal consequences.

    As I said above, although perhaps I should have been clearer: I have never seen or heard of false accusations (or even true accusations!!!) resulting in a man’s termination in my professional life. I am not an attorney nor am I a legal historian, so I’m only speaking from my 20 years in postgraduate academia.

    Here’s what I’ve observed or heard about in those 20 years, just f’rinstance off the top of my head: 1) the male professors who all married their former u/g students at my college, 2) in grad school, the male professor all young women were urged to steer clear of because of his previous unprofessional behavior to female grad students, 3) the male professors in my grad department who married their grad students, 4) the male friend who was importuned by a male professor, and when he said he wouldn’t meet this professor on campus, was reminded by this professor that he was on his grad committee and suggested that he (the perp) could make life difficult for him (the student), 5) the female friend who was sexually harassed by a senior colleague at her previous uni who not only was not protected by her uni but whose perp was protected. (And this is a perp like the one Squadrato describes, with a long record of poor behavior, and yet the uni always protected the perp and never the victims.)

    So, just based on my personal experience, it’s clearly male professors who have historically enjoyed the sexual prospecting among their students and colleagues. No, I can’t provide evidence or links for these cases, because the way that rape culture works is that women (and some men) who complain about sexual harassment are told it’s all in our heads, we clearly misunderstood a harmless friendly gesture, he’s got a reputation so what did we expect it’s our fault we didn’t stay away, and/or there’s nothing to be done because there are no witnesses.

    And this is why some young men feel free to take advantage of this masculine prerogative in spite of the fact that they’re students rather than colleagues, as described in the case above. Because, after all, there’s very little to suggest to our male students that they’ll be punished or held accountable for their behavior.

  56. Pushing Boundaries « Reassigned Time 2.0 on 26 Oct 2010 at 9:49 am #

    [...] Historiann started a conversation (which I’ve found at turns interesting and frustrating) over at her place yesterday based on this post over at University of Venus.  What I’m about to write isn’t really a direct response either to the conversation at Historiann’s nor is it a direct response to the tale recounted over at U of V.  But it is about my experience on both sides of the desk, first as a student who pushed boundaries and, later, as an instructor whose students push boundaries. [...]

  57. Anastasia on 26 Oct 2010 at 11:05 am #

    I haven’t commented here in quite a while because I find this to be a very unwelcoming space. I found my way here from Ressigned Time today and I wasn’t planning to weigh in but I’m really troubled by the way you dismissed Anonymous’s complaint as not constituting harassment.

    You weren’t possibly too restrictive in your definition of harassment. You were wrong. There are no shades of gray, here. By legal definition, hostile environment is sexual harassment and students can absolutely create that for faculty. It isn’t identical to quid pro quo harassment but it is equally illegal.

    It’s important that we’re all on the same page about what legally constitutes harassment. For you to tell a woman that what she experienced wasn’t harassment when, legally speaking, it was is supremely unhelpful. If you had been her chair or a senior colleague, you would have steered her incredibly wrong and left her apparently without options when she should have options, given the legal definition of harassment. You might want to update your knowledge of the concept.

  58. Historiann on 26 Oct 2010 at 11:12 am #

    You are assuming that “Anonymous” is female, wheras “Anonymous” says that he’s a white male.

    I think it’s different when a white, male faculty member receives a *threat* of possible future action from a female, rather than the behavior described in the post from a male student to a female faculty member of color. But, I guess that might be “unwelcome” news to you.

  59. JackDanielsBlack on 26 Oct 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Historiann, what difference does it make whether the threatener is male or female? Women can wreak havok too. Remember Amy Bishop? We need the same laws and regulations for everybody.

  60. Emma on 26 Oct 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    We need the same laws and regulations for everybody.

    I’ll get on removing that “only applies to women” from the anti-discrimination statutes, then.

  61. Emma on 26 Oct 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    For you to tell a woman that what she experienced wasn’t harassment when, legally speaking, it was is supremely unhelpful

    First, Anonymous didn’t actually describe what he experienced. Anonymous offered a conclusion, to wit:

    but I must note that I find myself on the receiving end of sexual harassment roughly once every other semester

    I don’t know what behavior Anonymous believes is sexual harassment, nor do you, and nor does Historiann. So, it’s hard for me to see how you reach your conclusion that what Anonymous experienced (whatever that was) was “legally speaking” harasssment.

    Anonymous did proffer a hypothetical:

    if a student threatens to bring a formal complaint to a chair regarding a grade, but makes it clear that it would go away if the faculty member submitted to a sexual advance, then I think it qualifies as sexual harassment

    However, you and Anonymous are wrong: this is not sexual harassment — legally speaking that is.

  62. Emma on 26 Oct 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Emma, don’t bing or google and you’ll never be confronted with things you don’t want to see.

    Yes, I spend my whole life being unconfronted by things I don’t want to see. I exist in the parallel feminist universe where everything I see is exactly what I want to see. It’s so lovely here.

  63. Historiann on 26 Oct 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    Thanks, Emma–but don’t bother. Anastasia only shows up to lecture me about what a terrible, terrible person I am. She doesn’t have time to read carefully and respond to the facts.

  64. Emma on 26 Oct 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    Oh, I know. It mostly wasn’t for her benefit but to provide accurate information.

  65. Comrade Svilova on 26 Oct 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    Yes, I spend my whole life being unconfronted by things I don’t want to see. I exist in the parallel feminist universe where everything I see is exactly what I want to see. It’s so lovely here.

    Ah, yes, the world as seen by a feminist is full of discrimination and inequality because she wants it to be that way, and in fact looks for things to get angry about. Because she likes being angry. Or something. Right? :-)

    And on topic, on the note of the gender of the student and faculty member mattering:

    It absolutely does make a difference, because men and women are not treated exactly the same by our society. This is Feminism 101 here. Men as a class have privilege and power that women do no have. (JDB, when was the last time you passed a group of women on the street and were seriously concerned about your personal security? More importantly, when was the last time that an individual woman caused you to feel at risk of physical assault of some kind? Just looking at crime statistics shows that both women and men have far more to fear from male perps than from female perps. Thus is it easier for men to exploit that system and use unspoken or spoken threats of violence to keep others “in line.” Because there’s a real statistical probability that a man who threatens violence will follow through.)

    We do need the same laws and regulations for everybody. It’s funny, though, how institutionalized privilege allows certain groups to get away with flouting social convention and legal law more often than other groups. Wacky how that works, right? If you’ve never noticed that, you might want to start paying closer attention to what’s being said in this thread and elsewhere in the feminist blogosphere.

  66. Western Dave on 26 Oct 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    @Dickens Reader. Right. In other words, I’ve not even come close to being sexually harassed, unlike some of female colleagues.

  67. Mamie on 26 Oct 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    Emma rocks.

  68. Emma on 26 Oct 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    Re: Bethune-Cookman, I just want to note that the AAUP, among other things, disagreed with B-CU hiring outside investigators and legal counsel to conduct the investigation regarding charges of sexual harassment against the four professors who were terminated.

    Rather the AAUP thinks that faculty, i.e. the accused harassers’ colleagues, should have been charged with investigating allegations of unlawful conduct. To quote from the AAUP report:

    Association-supported standards for academic due process relating to the imposition of a major sanction in a case of alleged sexual harassment by a member of the faculty are set forth in Regulations 7 and 5 of the AAUP’s Recommended Institutional Regulations and in its report entitled Sexual Harassment: Suggested Policy and Procedure for Handling Complaints. If a grievance officer is unable to bring about an informal resolution of a complaint, the complaint is to be subject to review by a faculty committee. If the committee determines that the complaint warrants further review, the committee is to invite the parties to the dispute to appear before it and to confront adverse witnesses, to gather such information as deemed necessary, and to reach a determination on the merits of the complaint. If the faculty committee’s findings do not lead to a mutually acceptable resolution and if the committee believes that reasonable cause exists for seeking sanctions against the accused faculty member, the matter is to be submitted to the chief administrative officer. That officer is then to follow the procedures for imposing a severe sanction up to and including dismissal, with the administration assuming the burden of demonstrating adequacy of cause in an adjudicative hearing of record before a faculty body.

    That’s fucking laughable – if it weren’t so fucking predictable. The AAUP proceeds from one imperative and one imperative only: protect the jobs of its constituents.

    I’ve seen corporations with better investigation and problem resolution procedures. The only thing this process is meant to do is keep victims of sexual harassment from realizing they have legal rights and that the conduct they are complaining of potentially violates Federal anti-discrimination statutes, at least. It is meant to keep any allegations of sexual harassment against professors all “in the family”. There’s not even a fucking pretense of objectivity or impartiality.

    In fact, in the B-CU case, the university hired investigators and legal counsel to conduct the investigation regarding the four professors who were dismissed. That’s a lot of what the AAUP is so upset about: the accusations of harassment weren’t submitted to “faculty review” for determination.

    In fact, the AAUP report notes that two of the four dismissed professors had been previously accused of sexual harassment. One was given a “temporary reprimand” and the other “was dismissed as a misunderstanding after a meeting he had with the student ombudsperson.” Suggesting, according to the AAUP, that “the university was at one time able to deal adequately with allegations of sexual harassment.”

    Which is to say, take what the AAUP says with a grain of salt.

  69. JackDanielsBlack on 27 Oct 2010 at 5:29 am #

    Emma, whatever the merits of the AAUP’s position, I am sure you will agree that this is a case in which accusations of sexual harassment were taken seriously by the administration and faculty suffered consequences as a result. This was my point.

    With respect to this particular case, I agree with you. In fact–I would go further and say all cases of this sort should be tried in a court of law before the public. All too often, Universities try to protect their faculty from the consequences of activities that either are, or should be, illegal. However, I suspect that many (perhaps most) faculty would not agree with me.

  70. Comrade PhysioProf on 27 Oct 2010 at 6:21 am #

    Historiann, what difference does it make whether the threatener is male or female? Women can wreak havok too. Remember Amy Bishop? We need the same laws and regulations for everybody.

    Dude, people on this blog have neither the time nor inclination to get you up to speed on decades of legal and social history scholarship. However, there is a blog called “I Blame The Patriarchy” (don’t have the link handy, but you can Google it right the fucke uppe) filled with lots of very nice people who would be very happy to patiently bring you up to speed. I suggest you go over there and ask for some help, and then you’ll do much better at understanding the discussions here and at Tenured Radical.

  71. JackDanielsBlack on 27 Oct 2010 at 7:13 am #

    CP, since according to you I am invincibly ignorant, why do you bother to try to “bring me up to speed”? I understand the discussions here only too well. If you don’t think that women and men should be treated equally before the law, I don’t think we have much to talk about. You might want to do a little research yourself–I would recommend starting with the Constitution (don’t have a link handy, but you can google it.)

  72. Comrade Svilova on 27 Oct 2010 at 7:32 am #

    JDB, who said women and men shouldn’t be treated equally before the law? That would be ideal! It should happen! ASAP!

    Does it happen?

    Like, right now?

    Do all institutions and organizations and social structures treat men and women equally? Right now, today? Has all institutionalized discrimination against women been utterly eliminated?

    All we’re pointing out is that we have not yet reached the ideal where men and women are treated equally by laws and society. If you believe that we have reached that ideal state, then CPP is right that you’re ignoring “decades of legal and social history scholarship.”

  73. Comrade PhysioProf on 27 Oct 2010 at 8:07 am #

    Dude, allz I’m sayin’ is you should go over to I Blame the. Patriarchy and raise your interesting point that women are violent, too. They will be very eager to hear what you have to say, and discuss the issue with you. I’m just tryin’ to help you out, bro.

  74. JackDanielsBlack on 27 Oct 2010 at 10:35 am #

    No thanks, CP — I’m catching all the flack I care to deal with right here–no need to go looking for more! But thanks for looking out for me — I know it’s the thought that counts!

  75. JackDanielsBlack on 27 Oct 2010 at 10:39 am #

    CS, my comment was made in the context of the question whether male students bringing harassment charges against female faculty should be treated the same as female students bringing harassment charges against male faculty. Do you agree that they should, or do you think we need to put a thumb on the scale of justice in this case?

  76. Comrade Svilova on 27 Oct 2010 at 10:53 am #

    Sure, they *should* be treated the same. But in today’s society, they are not.

    A group of feminists and feminist allies wanted to talk about the ways in which women are systematically discriminated against and you insisted that *instead* we should talk about how BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO MEN TOO.

    Fine. Bad things happen to men too. Are you happy now? Can we please return to the topic of the actual post?

  77. JackDanielsBlack on 27 Oct 2010 at 10:59 am #

    CS, near as I can tell, this thread is open to all. Different folks have different points of view. I learn by questioning — how about you?

  78. Emma on 27 Oct 2010 at 11:08 am #

    Really, ‘cuz I thought the point of your post raising the B-CU case was the specious one that unfounded accusations of sexual harassment ruined the careers of wholly blameless, lovely men.

    In fact, one student went to the police, seven specific students complained of sexual harassment including an attempted rape, and one professor admitted that every year he invited the best student in his class to a private dinner at the professors’ shared apartment and that — what a coinkydink! — every year the best student was female! Among other things.

  79. JackDanielsBlack on 27 Oct 2010 at 11:38 am #

    Emma, if you go back and look at the posts, you will see that my point was that male professors do sometimes get punished for sexual harassment of students, as opposed to Historiann’s assertion that she never saw that happen. My preference is that proceedings be transparent and public, and that justice be done.

  80. Comrade Svilova on 27 Oct 2010 at 11:42 am #

    Oh, but Emma, his questions and the different stories he’s discussed here don’t have a “point” — they’re just innocent inquiries without any agenda or ideological position, questions from a purely objective mind seeking knowledge, only knowledge.

  81. JackDanielsBlack on 27 Oct 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    CS, so true!

  82. Emma on 27 Oct 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    Oh, but Emma, his questions and the different stories he’s discussed here don’t have a “point” — they’re just innocent inquiries without any agenda or ideological position, questions from a purely objective mind seeking knowledge, only knowledge.

    The advantage of the internet for Mr. Black is that he doesn’t have to struggle to maintain that Gomer Pyle look on his face while he types. On the internet, nobody can hear you snigger.

  83. JackDanielsBlack on 27 Oct 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    How can one help but snigger?

  84. Comrade Svilova on 28 Oct 2010 at 6:53 am #

    Emma, just because you’ve heard hundreds, nay, thousands of internet d00ds ask biased, ideologically motivated questions re: feminism, cloaking them in a false objectivity that is belied by the content of their posts, you somehow think Mr. Black isn’t as objective and non-ideological and free from an agenda as he claims to be? How cynical of you! Why won’t you give a poor, knowledge-seeking man a chance to learn? That’s all he wants to do!!

    Haha, of course, the most politically and ideologically compromised position to take is that of asserting that one is not politically or ideologically motivated.

    There’s a new book out called “Objectivity” that I’m anxious to read (there’s a great review of it in the current issue of October). It examines the changes in and the development of the concept of “objectivity” through looking at the changes in approaches to scientific illustration over the years. It seems that the work examines and dismisses the idea that absolute and pure objectivity is possible, even in the sciences. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  85. Emma on 28 Oct 2010 at 7:28 am #

    It seems that the work examines and dismisses the idea that absolute and pure objectivity is possible, even in the sciences.

    Interesting. There’s been some work about objectivity in legal theory, it seems most people are agreed that objectivity is not possible and everybody judges everything from their own standpoint. Of course, this only applies to jurors (and there’s some interesting case law on jury picking) and not Judges who, of course, deliver objective edicts from the heights of Mt. Olympus, free of the petty concerns of mere mortals.

    Re: cynicism, “No matter how cynical you become, you just can’t keep up.”
    – Lily Tomlin

  86. Comrade Svilova on 28 Oct 2010 at 8:00 am #

    not Judges who, of course, deliver objective edicts from the heights of Mt. Olympus, free of the petty concerns of mere mortals

    Except, of course, for female, homosexual, or PoC Activist Judges (TM) who let their personal biases sway their rulings in ways that straight, white, male judges never would!!

  87. Emma on 28 Oct 2010 at 9:04 am #

    Actually, once you make it on the bench, any bench, you’re pretty much presumed to have Olympian objectivity regardless of your race, gender etc. At least by the legal system. That is, there is a bias in favor of upholding trial court rulings, and a larger bias in favor of upholding rulings against civil plaintiffs and against criminal defendants, regardless of who the trial judge is. (See Sonia Sotomayor’s Court of Appeals career, where she overwhelmingly ruled against plaintiffs alleging employment discrimination.)

    There are all sorts of codes and mechanisms for getting around talking about judicial decisions as anything other than neutral application of law to facts. Sometimes the lower court’s application of law is wrong and therefore a decision must be overturned. But very rarely will the system, i.e. reviewing courts, say the judge is personally to blame, i.e. cherry picking facts or cherry picking law in order to advance a particular judicial or social philosophy or personal point of view about, say, the frequency of employment discrimination or rape.

    Those discussions about judicial bias b/c of race, gender, etc., are mostly popular culture discussions. Those types of discussions do happen in the context of complaints to judicial tenure commissions and the like. But they are pretty rare and it takes a LOT for the judicial system to go after one of their own. Think of it like the AMA and doctors.

  88. Comrade Svilova on 28 Oct 2010 at 9:41 am #

    Oh, definitely. I was just making a cheap joke about the way popular culture paints judges from marginalized groups as supposedly more biased because they are not the “default human being” (white, het, male…).

  89. Monday Roundup: Road runner edition : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 01 Nov 2010 at 12:15 am #

    [...] is apt to make unequivocal gestures.”  Right on.  I would just add that the many blogs (including my own) that have responded to the original post at Inside Higher Ed have avoided talking about [...]

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