We don't know everything that has happened in this case, but if we base our decision on what Pinknews.co.uk has shared with us below, we don't agree with the results at all.
A gay professor has claimed he was sacked for sexual harassment over a ‘misunderstanding’ – because he told a student that he would “ride them hard”.
Tenured English professor Rob Latham of the University of California-Riverside (UCR) has spoken out against allegations made by a former student. According to Academe, Latham claims that “political pressures and rank homophobia deformed the disciplinary process” in the case, because both he and the complainant were men.
Latham recalled: “The Provost’s Office submitted, as evidence of my alleged verbal harassment of the male complainant, the following communication: ‘You’re an intellectual thoroughbred, kiddo, and I’ve mentored very few of those in my career. I have to resist the impulse to ride you too hard too soon. If you’ll forgive the equine metaphor’. Suffice to say it is transparently obvious that, if a heterosexual man had made the exact same statement, no lewd implication would ever have been inferred."
Latham continues: "The rhetoric of UCR’s charging documents and administration counsel’s briefs was rife with homophobic language and assumptions, including the myth that gay men are always ‘on the make’, unable to relate to other males in any way except sexually.”
He also denies other allegations made against him, including “allegedly distributed drugs to graduate students on an evening when I was demonstrably not present”, as well as allegations of an “unwelcome advance towards a third party despite substantial exculpatory evidence, including that student’s own contemporaneous statements.”
He added: “I can’t believe that this case, which began with false charges of sexual harassment brought by a disgruntled graduate student and his girlfriend, has been allowed to reach the Board of Regents. It should have been settled through informal mediation long ago.”
However, a statement from the English department said: “We, the faculty of the English Department at the University of California, Riverside would like to respond to Dr Latham’s public statement. We wish to go on record in support of the decision of the University of California Board of Regents, which Dr Latham references in emails to us.”
The statement continued: “We stand with our graduate students, and those who came forward, filed complaints and supported each other through this difficult process. We are committed to moving forward with our students, and to working together to repair any and all harm done to our community and to our campus.” – pinknews.co.uk
Did Latham deserve to get sacked? Not sure. Is the information we have a little skewed? We may never know, but we do know that it's not always easy being a teacher and a friend of Dorothy. Some communities can be supportive while others are will desire your departure once they find out who you are.
I remember during my first year of teaching, the first major face-to-face meeting with the principal was to inform me that a student went to her father and accused me of giving her a detention because she would not be my date for a "kegger" I was throwing for some seniors. Other allegations would pop up from year to year and I would be grateful for the support the administration would give me. As the years went on, administrators would change and the support would, too. Later, I would find out that a couple of the straight administrators were having the gay sexual encounters with students and looking down on me. It can be a constant battle with administration and to be honest, it is an easy way for conservative administrators to get rid of effective LGBT educators. In my last year of teaching, there were four LGBT educators ina staff of 40. None of us would be there the next year and it was obvious to us, the students, and fellow staff that were pushed out and let go because of who we were.
So to those teachers fighting the fight and teaching our youths, we do wish you the best and stay strong.
But what if Latham was in the wrong?
Since my first posting of this blog, Instinct has been contacted with opposing views of the UCR situation. One was left in our comments below and one was sent to us via email.
We received permission to share the one we received via email and it reads:
Adam Dupuis' biased post is a continuation of Rob Latham's harassment of and retaliation against LGBT students. I am dismayed at the speed with which media has taken up a juicy headline without stopping to think about how strange it sounds that a professor could lose tenure over something so trivial as a few messages and drug use. Riverside may be a conservative place, but the English Department is full of queer professors and students, including me, and is anything but conservative. His allegations of homophobia are baseless. He was fired for harassing students for years (the number of people sexually harassed by him is certainly more than one), in incredibly emotionally manipulative ways. I am familiar with the case and I've seen things I can't unsee, that haunt me. It's hard for people at the university to come forward because of confidentiality rules and the fear of further retaliation by Rob (legally and in the larger academic community), and he is taking advantage of this to spread outright lies.
I agree my response was biased and I did mention I was working on only info from one source. I was a teacher that had to deal with years of ridicule from others due to my sexuality. Claims of having relationships with students constantly were volleyed my way, even from those that I would later find out were doing just that. Here I was accused of such things even by the administration while knowing the married principal was sleeping with his married secretary. Morality indeed. So I know first hand the stone throwing that can happen in academia.
But we also must listen to the students and take their complaints seriously and look for all the facts in each case. I was advisor for not only the Student Council, but also the National Honors Society, as well as the Civil Rights Team at my schools. Protecting students' rights is a necessity for often they do not have a voice and look toward us educators to assist them in times of trouble. I had to go to the state level several times to make sure students and fellow LGBT teachers were protected and treated fairly. Going over local administrators did not make me popular, but the Attorney General and I were on a first name basis. From UCR, we also received this:
"UAW 2865 has the responsibility to represent our members when we believe our contract has been violated, and to call on our employer, the University of California, to take appropriate steps to prevent continued violations and/or crimes against our members. We stand by those who came forward at UC Riverside, and we remain committed to ending sexual harassment and assault at all UC campuses."
… and the response we received supporting Latham was …
I am a colleague of Rob's posting under a pseudonym because the atmosphere at UC Riverside right now is toxic. The "ride you too hard too fast" comment was only the tip of the homophobic iceberg. Here are a few more tidbits from UCR's charging documents:
1. A text Rob sent to the male student apologizing for "getting touchy" after an argument was interpreted by the administration to refer to an act of *literal* touching.
2. The administration referred to Rob's relationship with the student as a "sugar daddy" set-up and said Rob invited him to gay bars to "show him off to the Riverside queens."
3. The administration speculated that Rob may have "set his sights" on the student as soon as he first met him.
4. They said Rob "drew students in with lures" and then subjected them to "emotional and sexual predation."
5. There are persistent references in the charging documents to Rob's "risky" and "reckless" lifestyle.
And so on. It's a classic 1950s "seduction of the innocent" scenario.
Also, the student who initiated the harassment charges (which were found to be untrue) is very conflicted about his own sexuality, so his lashing out was pure homosexual panic that the UCR administration inflated into a witch-hunt.
We will have to see not only if Latham will bring his dismissal to the courts but also will the student(s) seek further justice against him.