In Professor-Dominatrix Scandal, U. of New Mexico Feels the Pain – Faculty – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Posted on September 17, 2010

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September 12, 2010

In Professor-Dominatrix Scandal, U. of New Mexico Feels the Pain

In Professor-Dominatrix Scandal, U. of New Mexico Feels the Pain 1

Mark Holm for The Chronicle

Lisa D. Chávez, an associate professor who moonlighted as a phone-sex worker, was not found to have violated any university policies. She remains at the center of a controversy over faculty governance and professors’ obligations to protect students.

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close In Professor-Dominatrix Scandal, U. of New Mexico Feels the Pain 1

Mark Holm for The Chronicle

Lisa D. Chávez, an associate professor who moonlighted as a phone-sex worker, was not found to have violated any university policies. She remains at the center of a controversy over faculty governance and professors’ obligations to protect students.

By Peter Schmidt

In some ways, working as a phone-sex dominatrix is a lot simpler than being on a college faculty. Your relationship with others is clearly defined, no one formally complains about anything you say to them, and you stand little risk of getting caught up in messy struggles over power.

It gets complicated, however, if you try to do both jobs.

Life has become extremely complex in the University of New Mexico’s English department in the three years since Lisa D. Chávez, a tenured associate professor, was discovered moonlighting as the phone-sex dominatrix “Mistress Jade,” and posing in promotional pictures sexually dominating one of her own graduate students.

Although she quickly quit the phone-sex job, admitted to a serious lapse of judgment, and was not found by the university’s administration to have violated any law or policy, Ms. Chávez remains at the center of a bitter controversy that has raised questions about faculty governance, the obligations of professors to protect students, and the exact definition of a hostile workplace in an environment of shifting sexual mores.

Several members of the English department accuse Ms. Chávez of abusing her power over students, and allege that the administration retaliated against professors who complained about her extracurricular activities. They also say that the university administration violated a basic principle of shared governance by not entrusting the investigation of Ms. Chávez to a faculty ethics committee.

For her part, Ms. Chávez has accused her accusers, in complaints to the university and the state, of discriminating against her because she is bisexual and Hispanic.

The department has been riven by resignations, as well as by three faculty members’ lawsuits, still pending, that stem from the controversy. Many faculty members complain that they now work in a deteriorating atmosphere, which is taking its toll on students.

Read the rest of the article on chronicle.com

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