She’s a university professor who wields ultimate and arbitrary power–for now

I’m a university professor, so I work independently and autonomously in classrooms where my only contacts are with people over whom I wield ultimate and arbitrary power. Of course, I don’t use this situation to punish bigots. Instead, I try to make my classes safe spaces to be gay, while also giving students opportunities to air, and ideally critique, their preconceived prejudices.

–Anne Balay,  Assistant Professor of English at Indiana University Northwest, where she teaches children’s literature, American literature, and gender studies, blogging at Harlot.

Abitrary and powerful Professor Anne Balay.

Arbitrary and powerful Professor Anne Balay.

Awful teacher. Not only does she not tell you when papers are due, but she’ll give you a bad grade if you don’t agree with her views.

Great teacher! Definitely helped the class understand American Literature and modernism.

I went into this class thinking it would be interesting. This professor is very strict on her views, and although she says she is open to discussion, she tends to shoot people down and dismiss their ideas. Midterm graded very strictly, not open to discussion about it, and nothing was said about the papers that were due. DON’T DO IT.

I took her when i was an undergraduate at the University of Illinois at Chicago during the 2006-2007 academic year. I am now pursuing my PhD and I must say that most of the texts she taught have been continually useful. I look back with nothing but gratitude.

–Four anonymous students on Rate My Professor.

 I talk about sexuality as much as anybody else. If you’ve never had an out professor before, and a professor says that they’re a lesbian, you hear nothing else all semester. When students are mad at me, and hostile, they go to my chair and say, ‘She talks about sexuality and insults Christians.’ Neither the students nor the chair think they’re biased against gay people—they think you’re supposed to be fair to everybody—but when they freak out, that’s who they attack.

–Anne Balay, complainant in a suit filed this week with the U.S. Dept. of Education, alleging that she was denied tenure both because of her gender and because she is a lesbian, quoted on line in a interview with the Windy City Times.

Discrimination-complaint-filing Professor Anne Balay.

Discrimination-complaint-filing Professor Anne Balay.

The ultimate attack being, of course, getting turned down for tenure. Professor Balay reminds me a little of our president, of whom all criticism is racist.  For Professor Balay all criticism is due to her lesbianism.

Balay’s departmental colleagues and college personnel committee supported her case for tenure. Her department chair and dean did not. Balay claims she is one of many gay junior faculty members to have been denied tenure at Indiana University Northwest, but neglects to mention how many other straight candidates for tenure were denied during the same time. So we cannot know if indeed there is a pattern of rejection of homosexual academics at IUN or if gays and straights are turned down in equal numbers.

I can think of few moments in ones career more awful than being rejected in a bid for tenure.  I can understand the desire to point the finger of blame anywhere but the mirror. I feel sorry–I really do–for Professor Balay. But at the same time I am also relieved that someone who actually believes that she wields “ultimate and arbitrary power” over her students will no longer be in the classroom.

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