Campus Free Speech

CUNY Prof Accused of Sexual Harassment Because His Syllabus Says Effort Is 10% of Grade

Kneel before the Director of Diversity Investigations and Title IX Enforcement.

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CUNY
Gabriel Liendo

A professor at the City University of New York's Brooklyn College was ordered to make changes to his syllabus because it amounted to sexual harassment.

The professor, David Seidemann has refused to comply, and for good reason.

According to Seidemann, a university administrator expressed three grievances about the syllabus. First, and most quizzically, the grading portion of the syllabus suggests sexual harassment. It reads, "Class deportment, effort etc……. 10% (applied only to select students when appropriate)."

That's it. That's sexual harassment, Seidemann's department chair claimed.

Why? No one explained it to him. I gather that the "effort, etc…" was taken the wrong way: a completely unreasonable person could presume Seidemann was suggesting that sexual favors would boost the grades of "select students."

But you would have to be really uncharitable to read it like that. You would have to be looking for a reason to be offended.

Seidemann told me in an email that his department chair said "the 10% section could be construed as a prelude to sexual harassment," and had to be changed at once.

This order apparently came from the Director of Diversity Investigations and Title IX Enforcement. In the course of Seidemann's interactions with the director, he realized something quite stunning: there was no record of anyone actually complaining about the syllabus. The university had apparently launched this investigation on its own.

Seidemann was also initially in trouble for writing in his syllabus, "This classroom is an 'unsafe space' for those uncomfortable with viewpoints with which they may disagree: all constitutionally protected speech is welcome." But the director eventually conceded this was fine.

The bigger issue was triangles. Yes, triangles. Seidemann has a habit of using them instead of quotation marks "when referring to foolish PC terms," he wrote.

"The triangles were the problem," Seidemann said, recalling his department chair's words.

The professor refused to meet with the Director of Diversity Investigations, preferring to talk via email so that the conversation could be documented. This eventually caused the director to abandon the investigation: the matter is now officially closed, according to Seidemann.

The professor is pleased with the result, but little else.

"I got zero information from the college administration about the complaint, investigation, and findings," he said. "CUNY is a First Amendment and due process free zone."

College administrators apparently think Title IX gives them the power to force professors to revise completely harmless provisions in their syllabi.

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132 responses to “CUNY Prof Accused of Sexual Harassment Because His Syllabus Says Effort Is 10% of Grade

  1. Soon it will no longer be possible to parody Title IX enforcement.

    1. Yeah sure just like peak oil. We will never achieve peak derp. NEVER! The proggies are ingenious at finding new sources.

      1. That may have not been completely clear. I should have added that as long as they can find more derp there will always be prescience masquerading as parody.

        1. Well, you ruined it by over-explaining.

          1. No more reason cocktail parties for me then. Damn.

        1. Its probably easier/cheaper to get more derp from shame and guilt-sands using social-pressure extraction.

    2. Title IX is the new commerce clause. It allows and justifies any infringement the government and college administrators can imagine.

    3. Soon?

      1. Hmm- should have read further before posting. Great minds and all that.

      2. Soon.

    4. 10% of Robby’s salary should be based on the effort he puts into the PM links.

      1. They pay him?

        1. I thought he worked for Soavey Snacks.

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  2. It’s the goddamned Twilight Zone.

  3. Also, CUNY, spoken as a word, seems a little too much like slang used in locker room talk. Female genitalia make me feel unsafe. I’d like an investigation, please.

    1. I’ve been long amazed that “CUNY” is permitted to be an acronym.

      And don’t get me started on the word “FLICK”!

      1. In Wichita, there is a private college, Friends University. Years ago, we used to call it Friends University of Central Kansas.

        1. “We are loyal to you, alma mater, FU!
          We proudly proclaim your name, FU!
          When any should ask who we are,
          We will loudly exclaim, FU!”

          /fight song

    2. And T and Y are so close… they’d have to change keyboards.

    3. Sorry to be the pedant, but it’s pronounced ‘cue-knee’. Not even close.

      But I’ll bet this spelling similarity has been played with occasionally (see what I did there?)

      1. “Sorry to be the pedant, but it’s pronounced ‘cue-knee'”

        Sure, that’s just what a rape apologist would say.

        1. Maybe I’m just stubborn, but why would I apologize for my rapes?

      2. It’s pronounced how I pronounce it, and I pronounce it as though it has a second n. You don’t get to tell me what’s reasonable for me to fear or not fear.

        1. I bet you like pronouncing the word “niggardly” the same way as the dreaded n word instead of the SJW approved pronunciation which sounds identical to “person of colourdly”.

      3. Is there technically a “correct” way to pronounce an acronym though?

        1. Nope.

        2. Yes. That’s why they’re acronyms and not initialisms. hth

      4. “Sorry to be the pedant, but it’s pronounced ‘cue-knee’. ”

        Says who?

        Its not a word, there is no correct pronunciation.

        1. So says ‘Throatwarbler Mangrove’ here.

          1. Antisemitism!

          2. But he spells is, “Raymond Luxury-yacht.”

      5. Easy way to remember: puny is to cuny as punt is to ….

    4. You beat me to it, Fist. I always thought that acronym was short for CUNY-lingus.

      1. I hear their liberal arts program is nothing but a bunch of lesbians, they’re all CUNY-linguists

    5. Did…..did Fist just admit he is uncomfortable with female genitalia? You know, there is an alternative you could give a try.

  4. I gather that the “effort, etc?” was taken the wrong way: a completely unreasonable person could presume Seidemann was suggesting that sexual favors would boost the grades of “select students.”

    “It’s still physically possible for you to pass this course.”

  5. So he did not want the female students just laying there while the male students did all the work?

    1. +1 “Real dead fish, right? I mean she just laid and took it like a plastic fuckdoll, am I right?”

  6. I can’t say for absolute certain, but it’s almost as if the administration was pissed at the anti-PC rhetoric in the syllabus and was looking for any excuse to…what’s the word…harass the professor.

    1. The prof will find himself at MinLove if he isn’t careful.

  7. Grading scheme, distributed over the following criteria in a manner I deem most fit:

    Quality of services rendered.
    Congeniality.
    Cleanliness.
    Bikini competition.
    Ass kissing.
    Maintenance.
    Vigor.
    Homework and exams.

    1. Oral skills.

    2. I love the word Vigor. Might I also suggest “enthusiasm”.

  8. “College administrators apparently think Title IX gives them the power to force professors to revise completely harmless provisions in their syllabi.”
    And they are right.
    Next “debate” should include a question about title 9 and human rights. The dancing would be most entertaining.

    1. I agree with him on the stupidity of safe spaces and PC terms, but you have to admit he was going out of his way to be a douche in that syllabus. There are more polite ways of communicating that your class respects freedom of speech. The “select students” line was crap, too.

      1. “There are more polite ways of communicating that your class respects freedom of speech. The “select students” line was crap, too.”

        Bullshit. Anything less offensive or less direct would leave room for interpretation to the always offended, PC, special snowflake crowd. It would have just been brought up at a later date and whatever elegant verbiage the good professor used to describe freedom would also have been deemed rayciss, sexxxisss, homofObik, etc. He had the right idea of getting that bullshit over with before the term started.

      2. “but you have to admit”

        No Tulpa, I don’t.

  9. “(applied only to select students when appropriate).”
    sounds like best apple polishing effort counts for a bonus 10%

    1. +1 baby’s arm

    2. I took it as, “I dont care if you miss once or twice, but if you blow off classes regularly, Im gonna dock you ten percent.”

      1. That’s how i took it. If you were failing and trying hard, you might get an extra ten percent too. Maybe its enough to stay on a scholarship.

      2. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. But that sounds like the most reasonable interpretation.

  10. You would have to be looking for a reason to be offended.

    That describes pretty much every SJW on the planet. Clearly the Director of Diversity Investigations and Title IX Enforcement at CUNY has too much free time on their hands since they’re having to invent things to be aggrieved over.

    The professor refused to meet with the Director of Diversity Investigations, preferring to talk via email so that the conversation could be documented. This eventually caused the director to abandon the investigation: the matter is now officially closed, according to Seidemann.

    Gee, I wonder why the little shitstain didn’t want to have a paper trail? Hmm…

    ‘Member when we said that this Title IX horseshit could lead to a reduction of academic freedom for professors and the progtards said that was crazy talk? ‘Member? /Memberberries

    1. Director of Diversity Investigations

      It’d be tough even for Mike Rowe to come up with a dirtier job that that.

      1. It’d be tough even for Mike Rowe to come up with a dirtier job that that.

        Yeah, I really don’t see the appeal of jobs like that. I would literally rather clean out septic tanks by hand than be “Director of Diversity Investigations and Title IX Enforcement” for a university.

        At least cleaning out septic tanks is providing a useful service.

        1. Would you hire someone with a degree in “_____” studies to clean septic tanks? Without Title IX these poor snowflakes would have no job prospects.

  11. Clearly this guy got targeted because of the mockery of safe spaces and PC terminology. At that point they were just throwing the book at him.

    The “select students when appropriate” line is not SH but it is a terrible grade category, opening you up for all sorts of discrimination complaints, not to mention being stupid to begin with for a college setting.

    1. I actually think that “select students” nonsense is wrong. Really all this does is allow a professor to deduct up to 10% off the grade of a student they don’t like. It is explicitly designed for the abuse of students who are not enthusiastic enough. To the extent possible grades should be objective. Still it is amazing that every time college administrators jump the shark they just manage to find a bigger shark in a bigger tank for their next feat of mesmerizing stupid.

      1. I actually think that “select students” nonsense is wrong. Really all this does is allow a professor to deduct up to 10% off the grade of a student they don’t like.

        I don’t know what the prof was really thing there, and in general I agree that grades should be as objective as possible. A “10% for effort for select students where appropriate” certainly sounds awfully objective, but I think there may be a more charitable interpretation as well.

        It’s possible that what the professor really meant was that in the case of a student who was working their ass off (turning in all homework on time, asking questions in class, coming to office hours for additional help, etc.) but was still on the bubble between – for example – a C and B, he would go ahead and give them a boost to get them up to a B. I had some college profs who did something similar for students that were “on the bubble” between letter grades. They’d go ahead and give them the benefit of the doubt if they had clearly been trying hard. Especially ones who graded on a curve.

        1. Definitely possible although this felt like disclosure. You usually don’t need to disclose that you might give someone a better grade than they earned via their work. A lot of professors do things like what you describe without calling it out.

          1. True. The professors I had who did that sort of thing didn’t spell it out in the syllabus, probably to avoid just this sort of bullshit.

        2. It’s pretty normal for Professors to put a clause in the course description that they can point to later when they give divergent grades to students who, on paper, look like they did about equally well in the course. In the best case this is a good thing, and reflects real differences. I’m a bit biased though- I was an excellent scholar, but a terrible student, and I benefited a lot from this sort of Professorial discretion when I was in school.

          1. I used to teach AP Physics in high school. A little different, granted. But still we were expected (particularly for AP and other college level courses) to do a formal syllabus. I never put anything in writing in the syllabus such as the above regarding effort. But I would tell the students that there is usually a little room for effort if you are close. In addition, I would start with the traditional 90, 80, 70 etc. But, with the exams, I would usually have to curve a bit, since they would be pretty challenging. So usually I looked for the obvious break points in grades, and would round up a bit. That way, essentially two people with the same percentage wouldn’t get different grades. But a kid on the bubble by himself, if he showed the effort could get the benefit of the doubt when I created the overall curve.

          2. My syllabus typically includes a statement like: “There is no automatic “rounding up” of final averages. Consideration may be given in borderline cases to factors such as regular attendance and participation in class, and other evidence of effort.”

            If you just say you’re going to add or subtract 10% of the grade for certain students, you are asking for grade appeals (yes, those things exist). You can be as much of a dick as you want, but you have to be equitably dickish to everyone.

            1. My department gave me an office when I was a sophomore, mostly so I could do work that helped get DARPA funding. I very occasionally showed up for the classes I was enrolled in, but I showed up for tests and did well on them. The professors running my lab definitely leaned on other professors to give me better grades than I deserved, on paper.

              1. I did deserve them though, and honestly I deserved better grades than I got because I did sometimes get docked 10% for not being there. I never actually went to my “Theory of Formal Languages” class, but I feel pretty confident in saying that I was the only person in that class who even understood what it was about. And I killed the exams- they were on such a curve that A started at 60% and I consistently scored over 90%. But that 10% dock for not showing up meant that I got an AB (basically an A minus) in the class.

  12. What are “triangles instead of quotes” ???

    1. I believe they’re ?triangles instead of quotes?.

      ??Greek letter delta? instead of quotes? would probably have been a better description though.

    2. Triangles are sexist, or something.

    3. That’s the biggest tell of all …. everyone knows that the triangle with the point down ? is the alt key symbol for vagina … the prof was flashing vagina’s at every pc term that annoyed him … and calling the offended persons (male or female) “vagina’s”. Talk about sexual harrassment.

      1. *pulls pin and throws grenade into room … and runs away*

      2. Is that true? Or are you just fucking with me? Seriously, I can’t tell. That seems to fit with the story though.

        Reason why I’m asking is because I would like to start flashing vagina’s at everyone.

  13. “But you would have to be really uncharitable to read it like that. You would have to be looking for a reason to be offended.”

    Sort of like deciding that out of the likely hundreds of thousands of women who happen to be named Sarah Jackson, the only one a student could be possibly be referring to would have to be an obscure porn actress/lingerie model?

    The only good thing about the SJW phenomenon is that it is so well-beyond stupid that they are alienating their natural base. I have any number of otherwise left-wing friends and acquaintances who routinely laugh at the excesses of “cultural appropriation” and other such ridiculous garbage coming from SJWs.

  14. You know who else had an issue with triangles?

    1. pythagoras?

    2. George Costanza ($1800 worth)?

    3. Particle man?

      1. LEAVE HIM ALONE! He’s just doing whatever a particle can!

    4. Teltubbies?

    5. Euclid ?

    6. A Square? B Sphere?

  15. And if the grade were based entirely on the work produced? That would be a meritocracy, and therefore a microaggression. The revolution is starting to eat its own.

  16. Huh. SJWs press too far. Who would have thunk it?

    You’re shocked SHOCKED, right Robby?

    1. To be sure, Froot Sooshi disapproves of the professor’s implied sexism,

      1. That/s NOT OK!!!

  17. The professor refused to meet with the Director of Diversity Investigations, preferring to talk via email so that the conversation could be documented. This eventually caused the director to abandon the investigation: the matter is now officially closed, according to Seidemann.

    Smart move.

    1. Smartest move ever. Make everything be on record.

  18. When exactly did the states ratify Title IX? I must have missed out on that.

  19. In all fairness “(applied only to select students when appropriate)” does sound a little like the beginning of a porno.

  20. Is his name pronounced “seed man”? That sounds…problematic.

  21. He better be careful. If he tries to explain his syllabus, the title IX police will get him for mansplaining violations.

  22. Hey, CUNY, if I told you you had a nice student body, would you hold it against me?

  23. The “Director of Diversity Investigations?” Are you fucking shitting me? A six-figure-pulling bureaucrat with vaguely-defined, but apparently limitless, power? And no accountability? Who can unilaterally decide to use anything you write, say, or do to sodomize your career?

    Sounds legit. Nothing could go wrong.

    1. This position clearly doesn’t have limitless power, as the Prof won his case, as stated in the article. I get why you might be outraged someone made a stink to begin with, but nothing came of this. The Prof stood up for himself and the school backed down.

  24. He should change it to say ‘select hot students.’

  25. “The professor refused to meet with the Director of Diversity Investigations, preferring to talk via email so that the conversation could be documented. This eventually caused the director to abandon the investigation: the matter is now officially closed, according to Seidemann.”

    Smart man.

  26. you would have to be really uncharitable to read it like that. You would have to be looking for a reason to be offended

    God knows the blogging world never does stuff like that

    1. I TAKE GRAVE OFFENSE AT THAT REMARK!!!

  27. I think it’s pretty clear that the sum total of the actual grievances against this guy was not respecting someone’s authority by mocking ‘safe spaces’ and the like.

    What’s the point of having power if you don’t use it to demand respect from those beneath you?

  28. Well I can see the complaint that such a grading policy is vague and subjective, thus has a possibility for abuse. Though they probably should have told him to just be less vague.

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  30. I plan to add this example of “sexual harassment” to my commentary:

    “The Sexual Harassment Quagmire: How To Dig Out” http://malemattersusa.wordpres…..-quagmire/

    This may be the most thorough analysis you can find of what I think is the sexes’ most alienating and destructive behavioral difference. I believe this difference results in much of what is called sexual assault of women.

    1. Good luck with that.

  31. I gather that the “effort, etc?” was taken the wrong way: a completely unreasonable person could presume Seidemann was suggesting that sexual favors would boost the grades of “select students.”

    The previous part of this sentence [omitted above] includes “Class deportment” as an evaluation item.

    It seems more likely the complainant and Title IX enforcer believe women are subjected to behavioral double standards (aggressive men are lauded while aggressive women are bitches) and thus any such grading would be discriminatory.

  32. Smdh. Blow all the bridges, and drop two nukes on NY. Just to be sure.

  33. Congratulation to the professor for keeping the debate or argument IN WRITING, something that the bureaucrats seemingly prefer to avoid, a written record. One tends to wonder why.

  34. I find that 25% each on Midterm 1 and Midterm 2 and 50% on the Final never seems to get much flack.

  35. Looking for a reason to be offended. Isn’t that the definition of modern “progressivism”?

  36. I can tell the professor what his problem was. He should never have added that phrase: “applied only to select students when appropriate”. It sounds pretty clearly like…well, “discrimination”, to be polite.

  37. “It’s a prelude to sexual harassment.”

    So is breathing, talking, and blinking. Therefore blinking is essentially grabbing someone by their pussy.

    -CUNY’s Title X Director

  38. That professor is a very smart guy to keep a paper trail. It’s pretty amusing that the paper trail actually scared them off the investigation.

  39. This professor must have Sarah Jackson registered for his class…

  40. Anyone else google Director of Diversity Investigations? Sounds too perfect to be true. Apparently we missed out on the job opportunity though:

    BMCC Human Resources | Jobs – Deputy Director of Diversity and Title IX Compliance
    http://www.bmcc.cuny.edu/jobs/detail.jsp?jid=6256

    i believe the criteria includes “anyone white, male, or with a generally positive disposition need not apply”

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