New Hampshire Student Newspaper Editorials Stir Debate About Professor Who Exposed Himself in Public

A pair of spirited editorials in the University of New Hampshire student newspaper have drummed up a debate about the impending return of a professor who was arrested in 2009 for exposing himself in public.

As The New Hampshire notes near the start of the first editorial, the tenured German professor apparently “showed his penis to a mother and teenager in the parking lot of a grocery store. He then proceeded to drive down Route 101 with his genitals hanging out of his zipper as he cruised on his motorcycle.  When police pulled him over, his genitals were still hanging out.  And, UNH students, this pervert could be your professor next fall.”

The editorial, headlined “Back in a Flash,” subsequently blasts the arbitrator who decided the incident was not enough to warrant dismissal from the university.  It criticizes the chair of the professor’s department for stating that he feels the professor “is an effective and inspiring teacher; I have no concerns about him being in the classroom.”

It then calls for a student boycott of all the professor’s classes (set to begin next fall), in part to ensure “the floodgates to more professor perversion” are not opened.

The piece earned praise in some corners for capturing “the very real concerns that students feel about the appropriateness of the professor’s return to the classroom setting.”  Other pockets of readers offered strong rebukes, including nearly three dozen UNH faculty who signed a public letter calling the editorial “incendiary and unfair.”

The professor’s wife also responded harshly.  Her words: “I was surprised that at an institution of higher education where critical thinking, inquiry, tolerance, diversity and open-mindedness are revered, this type of sensationalized journalism would exist. . . . [T]he editorial written about my husband is to me so insensitive and reprehensible that it is in and of itself more damaging than the actual act of indecent exposure it wishes to condemn.”

In a follow-up editorial last week, the New Hampshire did not budge from its initial stance.  As the paper asked, “[C]an the faculty and staff members who signed [the letter] say, with a straight face, that allowing such a man to return to the faculty of this university will not weaken the high professional standards that members of the faculty and staff on this campus are held to?  It is rather ironic that these members of the faculty and staff have turned [the professor] into a victim while disregarding the mother and daughter he victimized, seemingly alongside every member of this campus community who has ever faced sexual harassment and victimization.”

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