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How to save my job and my students.

Dear Prudence,

I’m faculty at a university. A significant number of my male colleagues have been accused of sexual harassment by students, and based on my own observations of my colleagues’ behavior, I find many of these accusations likely. My university is addressing this problem (sort of, and  slowly). In the meantime, my responsibilities include advising students on which classes to take. I don’t want to spread gossip or get myself fired, but I also don’t want to send my advisees into situations that I know—but they don’t know—are not conducive to their learning, to put it mildly. What can I do here, as we wait for the wheels of history to turn slowly?
—Dodgy Professors

Re: How to save my job and my students.

  • Could LW advise of another teacher at a different time with the "oh, X time could conflict/overwhelm/etc you/your schedule"

    Might be worth talking to the head of the university about this to see how to handle it also.
    OurWildKingdom
  • Obviously the big problem is there even IS this problem.  Apparently with multiple staff members, smh.  And nothing is being done about it.

    But I hear what the LW is saying and this person should advise their students the same way they would for any other problem they might see between a particular student and a particular professor who might not be on the same wavelength for each other's "learning/teaching" style.  Or, "I think Ms. Jane Doe's teaching style is better for you."  There is a way to guide without coming right out and saying something that might get the LW in trouble.

    I'm also wondering if the LW is naïve that these "rumors" are probably common gossip amongst the students anyway.
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    MissKittyDangerILoveBeachMusicOurWildKingdom
  • @short+sassy  one teacher from my school ended up being charged and it originally was claimed as "student gossip" but when the girl spoke about it in therapy, there were others who ended up speaking up too.
    Oddly enough, of all the teachers that I did not trust - it was one one of them. Mind you, I did not know this teacher so it's hard to say.
  • Whether or not the educator is teaching a requirement and if s/he's the only instructor for that requirement tells me how I'd respond.

    If there's no other option to get the degree then to take that class I'd probably say something like, "This class is needed to fulfill your requirements and I'll caution you that this professor's teaching style may be less than progressive.  I'll keep you posted if I find that this class is offered by another professor or TA to fulfill the same requirement." 

    If they aren't required at all then I'd probably use similar language, "The topics in this section are very interesting however I'll caution you that I'd consider X class instead." 

    If pushed I'd attempt to use words that are non accusatory and discuss an instruction method rather than, "This person's an abusive harassing asshole and the reason tenure sucks." 
    OurWildKingdomcharlotte989875VarunaTTshort+sassy
  • Obviously the big problem is there even IS this problem.  Apparently with multiple staff members, smh.  And nothing is being done about it.

    But I hear what the LW is saying and this person should advise their students the same way they would for any other problem they might see between a particular student and a particular professor who might not be on the same wavelength for each other's "learning/teaching" style.  Or, "I think Ms. Jane Doe's teaching style is better for you."  There is a way to guide without coming right out and saying something that might get the LW in trouble.

    I'm also wondering if the LW is naïve that these "rumors" are probably common gossip amongst the students anyway.
    FWIW, there are issues all over higher ed.   A dear friend of mine in a doctorate program had to report her department head based on her (the head's) method of dealing with conflict, and her instructions were in direct conflict with previously documented safety procedures (they dealt with psych therapy).   
    charlotte989875VarunaTTshort+sassy
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