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Volume 2, Number 2, Mar/April 2000

Mock Mediation Roleplay #2 (continued)

Tool Box

Sexual Harassment? (A Student/Faculty Dispute)
Dr. Mary Smith (Professor)

You are a music professor and the Music Department Chair at Naperville University. You've been Ken Brown's advisor for the nearly three years that he's been at NU (he is about to finish his junior year). Early in his studies with NU's music department, you noticed his great potential as a vocalist, and you played an influential part in his decision to declare a vocal performance major. You have grown very fond of Ken during his time at NU and enjoy working with such a promising vocalist.

This semester Ken has, to your surprise, been doing below average work in your Advanced Music Theory class. This class is the capstone for any type of music major. You are concerned about his performance because it is essential for a music major to do well in this particular class, and more importantly, because you know he may lose his music scholarship if his grade doesn't improve. You also know that he won't be able to afford to continue his college education at NU if he doesn't have the scholarship funding.

You've been putting in late hours devoted to providing him private vocal lessons. You have wanted to do anything possible to encourage him to keep working hard, and you've also offered to assist him with his theory homework. You've really tried to help him along, from putting in extra time for lessons, to helping with his homework, to even offering to buy him a drink one night to help him loosen up, as you've noticed how stressed he seems lately.

You know that Ken has a lot going for him given his musical talent, especially because he is a very attractive young man. You've told him on a number of occasions how you are sure he has the potential to succeed in the competitive music industry; his good looks coupled with his vocal talent should give him an edge over others in the field.

Ken is one of your favorite students. You've always felt that the two of you have an open, personable relationship. You are hopeful that your relationship with Ken will continue even after he graduates. You've been trying to let Ken know how much you care about him by giving him extra help with his theory.

You were a profoundly surprised and troubled to learn that Ken filed a sexual harassment report naming you with the University. Now that you think back to your recent interactions with Ken, you are beginning to think that maybe he feels uncomfortable with the physical closeness and contact that the two of you have had during the private voice lessons. For instance, you share a piano bench while sitting at the piano and you may have occasionally touched his diaphragm to feel for his breathing patterns. However, this happens during the normal delivery of any voice music lesson. The school recommended mediation, and you readily accepted because you are anxious to keep the whole thing quiet.

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