Sunday, February 14, 2016

Tenured Professor Fired For Telling Student He’d “Ride Him Hard."

A professor has been fired from the University of California – Riverside, after a hearing determined he made inappropriate sexual comments to a male student.

Dr. Rob Latham, a tenured professor in the English department at UCR, was let go last month after a male student issued a formal complaint alleging Latham verbally harassed him and distributed drugs to other students.

“You’re an intellectual thoroughbred, kiddo, and I’ve mentored very few of those in my career,” Latham reportedly told the student, a T.A., during one encounter.

“I have to resist the impulse to ride you too hard too soon—if you’ll forgive the equine metaphor.”

Latham, who is gay, claims the charges of sexual harassment are false, trumped up by “a disgruntled graduate student and his girlfriend.”

He also accuses the UCR board of homophobia, writing in a post on Academe that if a heterosexual teacher had made the exact same comment about “riding” someone hard, “no lewd implication would ever have been inferred.”

The Misery.

25 comments:

  1. Given the thoroughbred reference, it's pretty clear that this is a horse analogy that he's... RUNNING with.

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    1. I'd bet that the relationship with that student had been strained... out of the gate.

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    2. Actually, it started out OK, but wasn't furlong.

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    3. It sounds like the proffie and grad student were jockeying for position from the get go.

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    4. This place takes Seabiscuit.

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    5. Was that a play on "takes the cake" with "takes Seabiscuit" pronounced "Zeh biscuit"?

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    6. You seem to have the inside track.

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    7. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/that-really-takes-the-biscuit

      Sadly, yes.

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    8. Either way, I hope the professor is reinstated and can get back in the saddle again.

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  2. This sounds like it's on the level of a Beavis and Butthead episode.

    "Huhuh. He said 'ride me'."

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  3. I've read Latham's statement to the Regents: this really does belong in the "Misery" category, because it's a fine example of how principles and procedures designed to protect students also get used to attack faculty who present themselves as problems to administrators, and "zero tolerance" only seems to apply to people who aren't straight white guys.

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    1. It would have been interesting for Latham's colleagues to issue a statement that his detractors should go "ride" themselves.

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    2. It's a pretty convincing statement. On the other hand, it appears that at least some of his colleagues accept/support the decision. This is one of those situations that it's really hard to judge from the outside, so I'm not going to even try. I have to admit I don't much like the "ride" language (or,for that matter, the "thoroughbred" language), but that's mostly because I prefer a somewhat more cooperative/less coercive model of advising (and a more egalitarian approach to judging potential). But preferences vary, and I don't think that language is outside the bounds of the potentially-acceptable. It really depends how it was said, in what context, etc., etc., and that seems to be where the disagreement lies (well, that, and whether the dismissal was really over sexual harassment, drug use, or one as the pretext for the other. He does seem to have complicated matters by engaging in two kinds of potentially-questionable behavior at once, but his argument that he's facing far harsher consequences for far less egregious behavior than some straight male UC colleagues is pretty convincing. Still, as I said, I'm not really sure what happened.

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    3. Lol I just saw the vaguely racist implications of saying someone was an intellectual thoroughbred.

      What is our standard for being an intellectual thoroughbred? Is it acceptable if merely their last eight grandfathers were intellectual thoroughbreds? Or does a drop poison the well?

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  6. The spam is getting better! Horse-racing. Excellent choice for this article, Spambot.

    If I mention my Debbie Harry obsession, can you do something with that?

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    Replies
    1. I can commend you on having good taste. That won't suffice, but it's a start.

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    2. Well, regarding the thoroughbred allegory, I was thinking that if one does NOT relate it to horse-racing, then it has other connotations (which Conan has since nailed -- as in, with a hammer -- above).

      So I was going to suggest that Latham henceforth stick to metaphors involving motorbikes. I was thinking of Harley-Davidson, and how "ride" is pretty asexual in that context. But then I recalled that very-high-performance motorcycles are sometimes referred to as "crotch rockets", and that some riders are excessively fond of their conveyances, as are, I suppose, some people of their horses.

      So I didn't finish that comment and instead tried to finish an actual post. I only bring this up now because I want to see what kind of spam it attracts. Well that, and I thought some of you might be amused.

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    3. Or he can use mixed metaphors of both categories to avoid any confusion.

      "I thought you were an intellectual Destrier. Maybe there was a Palfrey hiding in the woodpile somewhere along the way."

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    4. You may already know this about me, but my soul is somewhat bent. I blame years and years of bullying.

      Yup. Picking on all those kids sure did a number on me.

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  7. doesn't it seem odd that there is no remediation? One comment and you're out seems a little harsh. Especially in light of St. Mary's presidents comments.

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    1. Professors are the real bunnies? That would work better if bunnies were an endangered species, which they're highly unlikely to be almost anywhere (where two or more bunnies are gathered together, there will soon be more -- well, as long as there's at least one female).

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    2. Ah, yes, those fecund little professors.

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