Well, so do I. I certainly don’t want Michael Schaffer to lose his job without due process and a thorough investigation.
But Mr. Shaffer isn’t the only one entitled to a few answers. Let’s start with this from The Examiner’s report on the firing (which bore the “seeks answers” headline on its front page today):
“[Shaffer’s] candidness — his first assignment is to do a self-examination and write a paper about it – made the course one of the most popular and talked-about on campus. When registration opened, it usually filled up within minutes.”
Question (1.): Please explain the nature of this self-examination, Dr. Shaffer? Just how intimate is it? To what use is it put? Do you share the papers with the entire class? Do you feel yucky reading such intimacy from your students?
Dante and Shakespeare deal with human sexuality, and there’s nothing wrong about delving into such “issues.” But a self-examination followed by a paper? I am seeking answers.
Here are the bullets in a sidebar headlined “Fighting for His Job:”
“- Taught at George Washington University for 17 years
“- Students said he always protected privacy
“- Showed explicit videos as part of instruction
“- Professor said he often was invited to weddings of former students”
Leaving aside the explicit videos, here is Question (2.): Why should a college professor be praised for not sharing the intimate information he has collected on his students? And Question (3.): Should he possess this intimate information in the first place?
The article repeatedly emphasizes Mr. Shaffer’s popularity with students.It reports that more than 50 former students wrote letters in Mr. Shaffer’s behalf when they heard he was let go. Question (4.) What would it take to be an unpopular sex professor? No self-examinations?
Here is what a popular college professor does:
“He makes you look a … the issues that face us today,” said another former student. “I am not referring to what position is the best, I am talking about cancers, STDs, communication with partners and just being comfortable with your own body and being aware of how you treat yourself.”