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Back to July Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 270 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS JULY 2008

Professor Sues Her Students
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An English professor at Dartmouth College plans to sue her students because she claims their "anti-intellectualism" created a hostile work environment for her and violated her civil rights. The students expressed skepticism over professor Priya Venkatesan's presentations of French narrative theory, ecofeminism, and the belief that technology benefits only men and not women.

Venkatesan accused her students of "fascist demagoguery." In March, she left Dartmouth for Northwestern University. She is preparing lawsuits against Dartmouth administrators as well as the students who caused her "intellectual distress."

Joseph Rago, Dartmouth alumnus and editorial page writer for the Wall Street Journal, writes that professors with ideologies like Venkatesan's make coursework "pathetically easy" for their students. "Like filling in a Mad Libs, just patch something together about 'interrogating heteronormativity,' or whatever, and wait for the returns to start rolling in."

Rago finds one aspect of the story somewhat encouraging. "The remarkable thing about the Venkatesan affair, to me, is that her students cared enough to argue," he writes. "Normally they would express their boredom with the material by answering emails on their laptops or falling asleep. But here they staged a rebellion, a French Counter-Revolution against Professor Defarge. Maybe, despite the professor's best efforts, there's life in American colleges yet." (Wall Street Journal, 5-5-08)


 
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