Cal Poly department head accused of sexism

June 30, 2010

By KAREN VELIE

Amid allegations of sexism and poor leadership from a faculty member, the chair of the Cal Poly journalism department’s job is on the line, CalCoastNews has learned.

The news has raised the hackles of journalism students, faculty and staff who take issue with the allegations.

Because of the nature of the complaint, department chair Bill Loving said he thinks his time as chair, after a little more than two years, is close to an end.

“It appears I am in a position where there is an accusation followed by judgment,” Loving said. “The dean has said she has doubts about my ability to lead.”

Loving noted that Liberal Arts College Dean Linda Halisky met with journalism faculty earlier this month and told them that she was unsure if Loving would remain chair of the department.

Meanwhile, criticism of the professor who mounted the allegations, Teresa Allen, started soon after she made her disapproval of Loving’s leadership public, with some of her critics claiming she is retaliating against the chair over policy disagreements.

In the past Allen was considered by many to be one of the most popular teachers in the department.

Now, however, some of her colleagues and students question if Allen’s decision to start a for-profit online magazine that will compete with the campus newspaper for content and advertisers has created a conflict of interest.

“If any faculty or staff is involved in a for-profit business and using free labor from students to benefit their own pocketbook, it is unethical,” said Paul Bittick, the general manager of the Mustang Daily. “Professor Loving is doing a good job here. He is trying to make this department succeed.”

When asked to comment on her alleged accusations of sexism and her colleagues’ concerns about her business, Allen said that the issues didn’t appear to qualify as news and declined to answer the questions.

Critics of Allen question changes she recently made to her feature writing class curriculum. They contend the changes are for the benefit of Allen’s new magazine and not her students.

Allen’s feature writing class syllabus has changed from requiring students to produce longer standard features to short stories of under 500 words, accompanied by photo galleries that focus on the local nightclub scene.

One of Allen’s partners in the magazine, former Cal Poly lecturer and the magazine’s content editor Kim Lisagor, said that it benefits students to learn to write for the web because it gives the students the tools to compete in the future, with the industry expecting more jobs to be online.

In the past, Allen’s students were encouraged to submit their stories to the Mustang Daily for publication. Now, however, she has instructed her students to publish their work on web magazines.

To make up for the lack of content from journalism students, the editors of the Mustang Daily said they began paying students from other departments for content.

“You walk into this position thinking you will have the support of the entire department to find that a professor is trying to compete with you,” said Leticia Rodriguez, the editor of the Mustang Daily and an intern with CalCoastNews. “A professor should not be in competition with a group of students they used to advice.”

Lisagor said that Allen has not submitted any of her students’ work to her for publication. However, she said that their magazine, expected to go online in September, will provide a venue for the students to publish.

“The school has always wanted student to publish,” Lisagor said. “This is just another outlet for them.”

Halisky, a well-liked dean within the College of Liberal Arts who generally responds to the media, did not return repeated phone and email requests for comment.

After a faculty member rejected Allen’s request to have Megan Hassler, a student who had been serving as the paid web editor to the Mustang Daily, work for her as an intern for the summer, she circumvented the usual process and went to the dean for assistance.

“Allen bypassed my office and the department faculty, with respect to students doing unpaid internships, by going directly to the dean,” Loving said.

Nevertheless, Hassler is working on Allen’s website for a percentage of the online magazine and for credit for her senior project.

The contentious relationship between Loving and Allen escalated after Loving rotated the occupants of five department offices in order to provide advertising staff a private office. Allen complained about the room change to the dean as well as students.

“She brought a lot of attention about her feelings over the room change,” said Emilie Egger, English major and last year’s Mustang Daily editor. “Her door says Teresa Allen’s cubby hole. You can cut the tension in the department with a knife.”

Loving said he has told the faculty not to involve students in their disagreements because it can rip a department apart.

As for the claims of sexism in the journalism department, CalCoastNews asked more than a dozen staff members, faculty and students if they thought the claim had merit and, across the board, everyone said they had either not witnessed sexism in the department or that the allegations were false.

“I have never seen sexism,” Rodriguez said. “It makes me furious that one of the few professors in the department who cares more for the students than himself has to go through this.”

Note: CalCoastNews editor George Ramos, who is a member of the journalism faculty at Cal Poly, elected not to be involved in the reporting and editing of this article.


39 Comments

  1. Cindy says:

    I was just talking with my neighbor who works at CalPoly. He told me that Dean Linda Halisky has sided with her good friend Teresa Allen and that the dept Chair Bill Loving, was asked to step down this week. What the heck, I think someone should get rid of the Dean if this is the kind of “footsies” that she play’s. These two Woman’s Right’s Activist are playing what I consider to be the equivalent of the race card (which doesn’t fit) if my neighbor is correct.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 8

    • JanisJoplin says:

      This article and the responses to it are boring. The main players are so institutionalized they think their reality is our reality. If you don’t like it, quit. After all, the taxpayers are paying your salaries and we don’t appreciate hearing about your office politics and backstabbing. These turkeys have a job so why should we care. Why is this news?

      As for students who feel they were ripped off, you’re big girls and boys now. Why didn’t you quit or transfer out or report this bull while you were still in school? Was it because Mommy and Daddy were paying your way? If I was paying my own way, I’d make sure I got my money’s worth. Report it to the Chancellor.

      Why are we coddling any of you? File your big EEOC lawsuits against Cal Poly and get it over with. Of course, that will be career suicide but you’ve already flapped your jaws to the media so what’s the difference? Oh wait a minute – you’re in the journalism department – maybe a book deal in the offing? I see no role models here. Only spoiled brats all around.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 15

      • justme says:

        “The main players are so institutionalized they think their realty is our reality. ” Bingo, Janis.and the same for all your other observations above. Watch this increase in the future as socialism befalls us. Government and corps.are not Mommy and Daddy and those mentioned aren’t not kids anymore, someone should tell them.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  2. Maxfusion says:

    “She brought a lot of attention about her feelings over the room change,” said Emilie Egger, English major and last year’s Mustang Daily editor. “Her door says Teresa Allen’s cubby hole. You can cut the tension in the department with a knife.”

    Sounds to me like a spoiled brat. Didn’t get what you want? Play the ism card. Sound familiar?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 4

  3. cal poly jschool alum says:

    I was at Poly for T. Allen’s first year.

    What a disaster that was. Tore apart the Daily in about 1 week.

    Department meetings were a total disaster. Allen is the lead divider in all things in the j-school. I find no surprise in reading this article so many years later.

    Soon she should publish her book that was promised to the university almost 8 years ago.

    It is also par for the course to see the CLA bending to her ways. She is the worst team player at the Uni. She makes allegations, goes straight for the sexism card and plays for keeps. This would be the third department head she has tried to burn down. 3 for 3 and they continue to believe her.

    R.E.K. would be bummed to see what his department has become. At least we have his library to learn in – because learning in the j-school is not happening.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 3

  4. concerned jour student says:

    The Journalism department is a disgrace to the university. I enrolled in Cal Poly just three years ago. Naturally, I had enormous expectations. This is Cal Poly, right? The “Best of the West?” Instead of a cohesive, supportive department, journalism students are blessed with a group of immature, cutthroat children masquerading as professors.

    Disappointment and frustration are what I’ve come to expect from the Journalism department. Now, my sentiments have stretched beyond the pathetic walls of Building 26. What is wrong with Cal Poly and the College of Liberal Arts? I am stunned that this drama is unfolding right before the students’ eyes. What do I tell my parents? Mom, Dad, you’ve spent almost 80K on my journalism education, and all I’ve learned is how NOT to act in a professional environment? Despicable.

    My journalism degree means nothing. I can only hope a Cal Poly degree is enough to get my foot in the door.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 46 Thumb down 6

    • Citizen says:

      I am always amused at how Cal Poly’s shameless promotion of itself leads students to think that the world acknowledges Cal Poly as a distinguished school. The only time that happens is when out-of-staters think that Cal Poly refers to Cal Tech.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 12

  5. hmmm_not_so_fast says:

    Yet again Cal Coast News slams a man with sexist allegations.

    Over and over again, guys are made to look like deviants by Cal Coast News. Is there something we should know about Karen’s attitude towards men? What was all that business about the New Times and sexist claims?

    In reading Karen’s article it would seem the real story is; professor wrongly accuses department head of sexism. But yet the headline slams what seems, even by tag-team partner Dave’s accord, to be a good man.

    Understand, Karen, that though your headline may be legally accurate, (a woman accused a man of sexism) if this is one disgruntled professor going after a colleague, than you’ve done great damage to someone who didn’t deserve it. Does this bother you? Or bother anyone associated with Cal Coast?

    Why does the person who made the serious and damaging allegations not feel they are newsworthy? Either they aren’t newsworthy–yet Cal Coast, who seems too ingrained in the situation to be objective, ran with it, seemingly, yet again, without all the facts and with the accounts of the anonymous–or she has made false allegations?

    Why run with this headline? Sensationalism? Cal Coast News, never. Ugh.

    Everyone. Karen runs with this non-story to get hits. No traffic to the site, no possible ad revenues.

    If the professor is found to be making false allegations, will you go after her with your headline the way you did Mr. Loving?

    Leave the guys alone for a while Karen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 13

    • zaphod says:

      all that business about the New Times and sexist claims? nothing to see here move along now.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

    • PaulJones says:

      hmmm_not_so_fast,
      I suggest that you read this story before you accuse CCN of slamming a man with sexist allegations. This story reads quite the opposite. Cal Coast News is calling Teresa Allen’s integrity on the carpet for some rather disturbing behavior that appears out right unethical, not the least of it being that she has made “unfounded accusations” towards Mr Loving, while egregiously stating that he is a sexist, all in an effort to suit her own self serving interest.

      I am incredulous that Ms Allen would alter the very structure of a Feature Writing Curriculum to suit some substandard idea of what the class imparts to students pursuing a profession in journalism. Feature writing is a creative skill that entails 1000-2000 word feature articles, intended to read in a fashion that holds ones interest through out the article.
      This is a far cry from a 500 word article detailing local bar scenes complete with photo galleries. Writing for web media is an entirely different genre and has nothing to do with the curriculum that this class is supposed to be offering. It’s clear that this is about personal gain and student provided content for Ms Allen’s planned magazine style web site at the cost of the students time, education and tuition. Disgusting, and Ms Allen, please don’t encourage the students to frequent the local bars for the benefit of your new enterprise, under the guise of a class assignment. That isn’t what their parents are paying Cal Poly for.

      You sound like nothing but a self serving trouble maker. That’s the simple version.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 5

      • hmmm_not_so_fast says:

        PaulJones

        I’d suggest you read my post again. My point is, if Ms. Allen is the one creating this mess, than why run with the headline, Cal Poly Head Accused of Sexism?

        Most people don’t read beyond the headline. Read this, http://www.copyblogger.com/magnetic-headlines/ and maybe you’ll understand — eight out of ten read the headline, while only two out of ten read the article.

        So out of everyone that logs on to Cal Coast and reads the big, splashy headline, the vast majority will not read the rest of the article and understand that the department head is probably getting a raw deal here.

        The headline is what people remember PaulJones, and that headline called a man sexist. Hiding behind the word accused or allegedly (as this news source has done in other cases) is garbage. This happens time and time again.

        Don’t you think a better headline would have been: Cal Poly professor alters curriculum. Cal Poly professor causes problems in journalism department? Of course these wouldn’t have grabbed the attention that the one, incorrect though it seems, that CalCoastNews lead with.

        My question again, will Cal Coast write an article that either clears Loving or lets Allen have it (if she did trump these up in a feud)? Or will they just move on to the next sexist man?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

        • JordanJ says:

          “eight out of ten read the headline, while only two out of ten read the article.” per not-so-fast

          HA, That may be true of those who scan the daily media sources but that isn’t true of Cal Coast News readership. People don’t come here to scan CCN articles, they come here to read them. Folks surely might scan the daily briefs but they read the CCN articles. Not to worry, I think this media gang knows what they’re doing.

          I think that might be why the New Times has been so defensive lately. I noticed that CCN has surpassed the NT on line readership by 50%!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

          • hmmm_not_so_fast says:

            Since you’ve got the stats, I take it your working at Cal Coast, or maybe you are the unpaid intern, or in tight with them?

            But really, your readership is unlike any readership out there and reads all the articles, even with the rotating headline story? Open up the stats to page follow throughs and we’ll see.

            Congrats on the readership. Unfortunately, people watch fox not news and read the National Enquirer as well. CCN knows this and is playing to it. I got caught in the trap and am regretting this as I write. CCN doesn’t want the truth they want discussion, controversy, anyway they’ll get it. Make CCN less relevant, ignore it, let their local advertisers no you don’t like scandal and innuendo.

            But please Jordan, answer this question. Is the headline fair to the man accused? Does it accurately reflect the rest of the article?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

    • beforeyoufreakout says:

      I think you’re expecting to much from Karen and Dave. They are gossip writers. Not real journalists. Try not to set your expectations to high and you won’t get dissapointed. I know, I know, my comment is coming down. It’s gotten to the point that everything I post is getting taken down. I’m saving moderator’s comment for future use. Good stuff.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 9

    • utube says:

      “Run with this headline? Sensationalism? Cal Coast News, never. Ugh.

      Everyone. Karen runs with this non-story to get hits. No traffic to the site, no possible ad revenues. ”
      Agreed with your quote
      Buy her a billboard in A town-take her to lunch and then she won’t print your corrupt little secrets-Avila golf course add, Margarita ranch. add..buying her out or? What happened to the investigative journalist we once knew???

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  6. utube says:

    sensoring? What happened to free speach? Investigative objective reporting? Amazing…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

    • Moderator says:

      Oh Hi! your comments automatically go into a queue waiting for moderator approval I sent you an email.
      If you want free speech get your own website. have all the free speech you want.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

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