While they may not garner as much national attention as other collegiate sex scandals, music students may be subject to a disproportionally high rate of sexual assault, Inside Higher Ed reports.
In an incredibly interesting breakdown of recently reported sexual misconduct by music professors and the historical context of these claims, IHE argues that “anecdotal evidence suggests music professors, due to a mix of cultural factors and opportunity, may be more frequently involved in such incidents than other professors.”
However, IHE points out that because the Department of Education doesn’t track sexual misconduct reports by “type” of professor, this is impossible to confirm.
Despite the lack of comparative figures, there have been recent investigations into music professors at the University of Connecticut and the College of Charleston, both of whom are accused of sexual misconduct stretching back decades. Since 2000, there have also been reports of sexual misconduct among music professors at the University of Michigan, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Iowa, as well as other schools.
New York City private school Horace Mann also made headlines last summer when a longtime music teacher was accused by several students of sexual abuse.
Below are some of the reasons IHE cites as to why a culture of sexual misconduct can sometimes appear in academic music departments:
- Many of the staff at early American music programs at the beginning of the 20th century came from a chauvinistic European conservatory culture, and often sexually intimidated their few females pupils. A former dean of the Curtis Institute of Music writes that in the 1930s the school was known as the “Coitus Institute,” and windows were required on all doors to rooms that students and professors might use.
- Music professors have a specific power dynamic in relation to their students, as they not only shape a student’s art, but can often determine the course of their career.
- Travel opportunities for events such as music festivals allow for one-on-one interactions between faculty and students, and open more windows for sexual misconduct. For example, IHE notes that one of the accused music professors only reserved a single room with one bed for himself and the student he was accompanying on a trip to Paris.
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