Female students are ‘a perk of the job’ for male university lecturers, according to Dr Terence Kealey, vice-chancellor of Buckingham University.
In a slobbering piece on ‘Lust’, published in the Times Educational Supplement as part of a feature on the seven deadly sins of universities, Kealey wrote: “Normal girls – more interested in abs than in labs, more interested in pecs than specs, more interested in triceps than tripos – will abjure their lecturers for the company of their peers, but nonetheless, most male lecturers know that, most years, there will be a girl in class who flashes her admiration and who asks for advice on her essays. What to do?
“Enjoy her! She’s a perk.”
Displaying a disconcerting familiarity with the etiquette at lap dancing clubs, Kealey added: “As in Stringfellows, you should look but not touch.”
Flashing a few literary allusions, he continued: “She doesn’t yet know that you are only Casaubon to her Dorothea, Howard Kirk to her Felicity Phee, and she will flaunt you her curves, which you should admire, daily, to spice up your sex, nightly, with the wife.”
Kealey’s comments were attacked by Olivia Bailey, women’s officer at the National Union of Students. “I am appalled that a university vice-chancellor should display such an astounding lack of respect for women” she said.
“Regardless of whether this was an attempt at humour, it is completely unacceptable for someone in Terence Kealey’s position to compare a lecture theatre to a lap dancing club, and I expect that many women studying at Buckingham University will be feeling extremely angry and insulted at these comments.”
Kealey defended his article as “highly moral”, insisting that its purpose had been to point out the inappropriateness of staff-student relationships. “It says that sex between middle aged academics and young undergraduates is wrong” he said. “The crudeness of some of the examples was to underpin the inappropriateness of transgressional sex and that is a conventional literary device”.
Nevertheless, the article received a host of complaints on the Times Higher Education website. One argued that, in the pursuit of humour, Kealey “does a disservice not only to the many female scholars who have struggled to get a foothold in academia, but also the many bright female students who have got their good grades through nothing more exciting than hard work.”
More discerning readers were troubled further by the academic’s grammatical misuse. Indeed, “flaunt you her curves” is a solecism. She may well flaunt them, Dr Kealey, but she will flaunt them at you – (the noun in the accusative must be that which is flaunted.) The cardinal lesson? Leer if you must, but leer with grammatical precision in future, please, Terence.