Saturday, February 19, 2011

Those aren't my eyes

The yucky jobs I have to do as dean. Fight with the administration. Explain to an adjunct why it is not okay to force students to write brilliant evaluations of him. Explain to a search committee that I don't give a flying f... how brilliant Mr. X is, he was caught plagiarizing and I am not hiring him.

And speak with Mr. Eyes. The students had complained. He spends most of his time eying their boobs and buttocks. He comes around in the lab and touches their shoulders. And he insists they friend him on Facebook.

Mr. Eyes couldn't find the dean's office, so I had to troupe out and fetch him, as the only time he could come was Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. No slaves around the office to send at that time of day.

But it was lucky that I did. We had a nice little elevator ride together, maybe 10 seconds. And he did the boobs thing (face - left boob - right boob - left boob - face) three to four times. So I ushered him into the office, took his coat, offered him water, we sat down, and I began.

I pointed with two fingers to my eyes and said: My eyes are here.

He was startled, and asked me to repeat what I had said. I said, my eyes are up here, not down on my chest, and I would appreciate him looking me in the eyes when we speak. That behavior like this makes many women uncomfortable.

He said that he was not aware of doing this. I continued with the other sins. He just wanted to have pictures of the students so he can learn their names, that's why he wanted them to friend him in Facebook. And he posts his exercises there.

I suggested he attend the next Moodle course if he want to continue teaching here. He just got a great contract, so he might not continue. So I asked him to let us know in good time if he is not continuing.

The poor boy, he tried really hard during the conversation to keep his eyes off. He gave in to the urge 3 times. I let him drink up, smiled, gave him a handshake, and he scampered off.

My husband thinks I was terrorizing him. I felt very good at finally having a position of power that let me feel comfortable with calling out a boob gazer, because I very seldom say anything, although it irritates the hell out of me. Waddya think?

Dean Suzy


  1. Suzy, how dare you?!! This poor man has a disability: boobitis. He will return next week with a doctor's note and you will have to accommodate him. See, not staring at boobs is not an "essential function" of his job. Get it?

  2. Possibility 1 - he's a decent guy with a bad habit he wasn't aware of. You've done him a favour, albeit one he was probably dreadfully embarassed to receive.

    Possibility 2 - he's a slimeball who knew exactly what he was doing and is either too stupid to realise how uncomfortable he was making people, or didn't care.

    Both possibilities effectively dealt with in my opinion!

  3. I think your catching him doing it to you is perfect because he can't claim that the students are lying. Me, I'm gratified by the occasional glance at my boobage as I think, "Yep. Still got it." But I'm not a student being ogled by a professor who has the power and even I am distressed by leering stares (and, yes, we all know that we get them from students sometimes too). I think he needed to be confronted. The facebook thing is totally unprofessional too.

  4. Wow, Dean Suzy, I'm so impressed. I've been cursed with ample boobage myself, and it has given me no end of trouble. My first few jobs were horrible, because I couldn't figure out how to talk to my bosses or coworkers about the staring. It lessened as I grew older though: I figured out how to hold myself with more authority which did something to diminish the incidents.

    Some people have a major problem that they developed as horny teenagers and never realized. You've done this guy a big favor, and you've done your students an even bigger one.

    Home run!

  5. There's been some pedagogical-shmedagogical talk about how to use social media like Facebook for teaching, so asking students to "friend" him isn't automatically creepy. If Mr. Eyes uses a dedicated FB identity for class, then requiring students to "friend" that identity makes sense. If he's just using his personal account, though, that's ooky.

  6. @Bubba,
    Boobitis? An inflammation of the boobs? Although he might have said inflammation, I think boobiphilia would be more appropriate here. Or maybe booby-feely-a.

  7. But is he requiring them to friend him from their personal accounts? Do they have to create new accounts just for class? Either way, it's more than an imposition.

    Monkey, one need not have ample boobage to get leers from the really creepy ones though I imagine those who are ample get it even from those less prone to leering. Breasts are lovely things and a quick glance in a non-threatening setting does not bother me. A classroom is not one of those non-threatening settings.

  8. The Facebook friendage is an issue to me. If you have a professional-only account you are still requiring your students to make a professional-only account of their own to link up with you; either that, or you're requiring them to let you know much more about their private lives than is any damn business of yours. What's wrong with Moodle? Or setting up a class blog if you don't like Moodle or Blackholeboard? If you say "Facebook is more convenient because everybody already has an account", well, only if you're expecting them to use their personal accounts to link up with you, which, again, ooky.

    All of this can be avoided if you simply grasp that your students are your STUDENTS, not your friends. Sorry to hear it if your personal life is so arid that you need your students to be your friends, but isn't their problem and you don't get to download it onto them.

  9. I am on the fence about the Facebook thing, after experiencing a multitude of student complaints about how they don't like learning to use courseware, and why can't teachers just use Facebook because that's what they like using.

    I am not personally giving in on this issue, but I can see how it would wear a person down.

    On the boobs front, Suzy, you are a rock star.

  10. I swear there's one at every school. At one of the schools I used to work for, the Assistant Dean was telling me about how he had to fire a teacher for kissing a student. According to what I was told, the teacher walked up next to a student right in the middle of class, bent over, and kissed her on the cheak. The teacher got called into the Dean's office and was fired THAT DAY after confessing to it. I guess some people just can not control their hormones.

  11. Yet another example of something he ought to have grown out of by 10th grade, at the very latest. You give him hell, Dean Suzy!

    No one seems to be making much of the touching issue, so I will: that creep has no reason to touch his students, anyhow, anywhere, EVER. He should be reminded of this, clearly. Even drill instructors in the U.S. Marine Corps are not allowed to touch recruits, except to adjust equipment.

    I deleted and so completely abolished my Facebook account. First, the web page and e-mail accounts I've had for over 15 years now work just fine: I see no reason to have multiple ones to keep updated. Second, the issue of students being Facebook "friends" is too complicated/cheesy/sticky for me.

    Third, I admit that Facebook was great for re-establishing contact with old friends. To my dismay, though, I found that through them, I was also re-establishing contact with other acquaintances from long ago, the sort of people who made me appreciate how great the 21st century is because, as far as I was concerned, they weren't in it---until now. So, that was the end of my Facebook page.

  12. Aw, c'mon Suzy, give the guy a break. Everyone loves dean boobs.

    I stare at my dean's boobs all the time. He never complains.

  13. I forgot to say - AWESOME, Dean Suzy!

  14. "My husband thinks I was terrorizing him."

    In other words, how dare you hurt this guy's sensitive little fee-fees by calling him out on his inappropriate exercise of male privilege.

    Totally the same thing as 'terrorizing'. Yeah.

  15. @Frod,

    Your comment reminded me of some advice a friend of mine gave me after working 7 years in summer camps and 6 years teaching high school:

    "Never touch them, and never touch their stuff."

    Seems to be good advice.

  16. Good on you for calling him out. There are lots of ladies who are not in the position of power you currently enjoy and as you point out, it's a great thing when one gets to use said power for Good.

    My current boob guy is retiring at the end of the term. It will be challenging not to write on his card...So glad you won't be around to stare at my chest anymore!

    If only the two guys who stand outside the men's room by my office door and talk loudly about the breasts of job candidates and the breasts of female students would go away...they're in their healthy mid-40s, though, so I think I might be stuck with them.

  17. Oh, no, BlackDog, you can pop your head out and say, "You know, I'm too jaded to care, but another colleague might overhear you and file a complaint for creating a hostile work environment. Maybe you should quit while you're ahead?"

  18. Looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun. It's OK to take a quick glimpse, but if you stare you're going to get hurt.

    Sounds like you handled it well DS.

  19. Hm. Well. The Facebook thing seems weird to me (shouldn't he have friends his own age?), but I might cut him a little slack on the boob-gazing. It can happen to socially awkward people who have trouble meeting your eyes -- they sometimes accidentally rest them elsewhere. And I clearly recall a bit of a furor at my high school about a young male teacher who reportedly had a boob-gazing problem (and was a bit awkward). I ran into him again years later. Turns out he's gay.

  20. Facebook has a "commercial" option. Any professor can make a Dr. Boob Starer fan page and have his students "like" it so they can post on it and read whatever he wants them to know about class. The page will even appear in their news feed. There's also the option of using Facebook Groups to create a private group (meaning its existance is publicly visible but membership is by approval only) for the same purpose. It puts a degree of separation between the proffie's personal page and the student's personal page as neither can be viewed by the other: the commercial page or the group is the only point of interaction.

    I know all this stuff because my college encourages us to interact with our students on Facebook and provides classes in how to use social media as teaching tools. I have a few former students as friends on my real Facebook page, but I never allow current students on.

  21. Oops. I meant "existence." It's late, and I've been grading far too long.

  22. I was thinking along somewhat of the same lines as s and Cass (though we are not the same person): this sounds less like a deliberate power trip and more like a combination of social awkwardness and hormones (or perhaps a search for an infantile form of comfort? though the attraction of boobs is definitely sexual, there's an underlying layer of attraction/attachment that applies to people of all genders and orientations). Still, it's a habit that can and should be unlearned, and that can't happen until he's called on it (if he can't quite manage eyes, there are always eyebrows or ears or something along those lines -- still weird, but less disturbing). And the staring plus the FB thing plus in-class touching definitely adds up to a situation that required intervention.

    Of course, I might feel more strongly if I had had this problem (or if I had noticed having it; relatively low awareness of social cues may sometimes come in handy. The only time I remember thinking that someone might be staring, it was from the rear -- and the attention was welcome, which probably increased my awareness. On the other hand, I do usually make eye contact, so I guess I'd notice if someone weren't making it back. And my usual non-eye contact stance -- hunched over staring downward as I concentrate on an idea -- doesn't exactly invite boob-staring).


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