p2pnet view Off Topic:- “If you Google me, this whole issue is the first thing that comes up” Liz Derrington is quoted as saying in a Chronicle of Higher Education post on Lisa D. Chávez (right), vs the University of new Mexico.
Chávez was, and still is, involved in a scandal which arose because of the way she chose to supplement her income, and because she and Derrtington appear together in a pornographic photo.
An associate professor in creative-writing, she was also a part-time phone-sex worker who “was not found to have violated any university policies” but who nonetheless “remains at the center of a controversy over faculty governance and professors’ obligations to protect students”, says the story, which kicks off:
“In some ways, working as a phone-sex dominatrix is a lot simpler than being on a college faculty. Your relationship with others is clearly defined, no one formally complains about anything you say to them, and you stand little risk of getting caught up in messy struggles over power.
“It gets complicated, however, if you try to do both jobs.”
Derrington’s statement comes as the last sentence in the story. And the Google entry reads, “6 Apr 2008 … Lisa Chavez and Liz Derrington, the graduate student who had been in the photograph, both tell their stories on Sex in the Public Square dot …”
Now, “Life has become extremely complex in the University of New Mexico’s English department in the three years since Lisa D. Chávez, a tenured associate professor, was discovered moonlighting as the phone-sex dominatrix ‘Mistress Jade,’ and posing in promotional pictures sexually dominating one of her own graduate students”, says the Chronicle, going on >>>
Although she quickly quit the phone-sex job, admitted to a serious lapse of judgment, and was not found by the university’s administration to have violated any law or policy, Ms. Chávez remains at the center of a bitter controversy that has raised questions about faculty governance, the obligations of professors to protect students, and the exact definition of a hostile workplace in an environment of shifting sexual mores.
Several members of the English department accuse Ms. Chávez of abusing her power over students, and allege that the administration retaliated against professors who complained about her extracurricular activities. They also say that the university administration violated a basic principle of shared governance by not entrusting the investigation of Ms. Chávez to a faculty ethics committee.
For her part, Ms. Chávez has accused her accusers, in complaints to the university and the state, of discriminating against her because she is bisexual and Hispanic.
The story goes on to detail events from the time Chávez’s extracurricular activities were first revealed, to the present.
But in 2008, she gave an interview to sexinthepublicsquare.org.
Under it, is Unpacking conflict in the academy, a comment post from Michael Goodyear, “Assistant Professor of Medicine, Dalhousie University” here in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
At the end, “let us examine what has happened since these allegations became known”, he says, going on >>>
Professor Chavez has apparently been cleared of wrong doing. We do not know if the investigation was in possession of all of the facts and accorded procedural fairness and natural justice to all parties. However it appars that there are many members of faculty who are unhappy with this result.
Mechanisms need to be developed to deal with respecting people’s concerns, providing them the opportunity of input into any investigations and a sense of engagement, due process in testing of any evidence advanced, and a transparent communiation strategy. Conflict is inherent in diversity, and encouraged in universities as a creative force – but it needs to be recognised, acknowledged and managed constructively. Whatever the concerns were regarding the effect of Professor Chavez’ actions on university life and environment by those who raised the issues, the effect of raising those issues is now far more likely to be detrimental to that environment. Urgent steps need to be taken to de-escalate the conflict and seek common ground in this dispute.
Universities place great emphasis onacademic freedom – the right to hold opinions and to criticise without fear of reprisal or harassment. When colleagues embrace values or lifestyles that may be contrary to our own, those choices may be debated but must also be respected, and the argument not the person made the subject of discussion. Any actions that limit Professor Chavez’ ability to pursue her scholarly activities and teaching must be considered in violation of such principles. We also cherish our freedom of expression, and therefore our right to express opinions even when contrary to the dominant discourse, must be protected.
There has been much talk of the need for punishment, but for exactly what, and to what end, it is not clear.
“There are a number of very important issues here that require careful examination and consideration of their implications for the proper conducting of the roles and responsibilities of an educational institution”, Goodyear says, adding:
” Let us hope that constructive wisdom and energies will prevail and that all will learn from what happened here and put in place procedures and policies to prevent it happening elsewhere.”
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi
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