Professors, despite the moral ambiguity

Courtesy of MCT

Courtesy of MCT

Eliot Spitzer, who resigned as governor of New York after it was discovered he was a frequent client of a high-priced prostitution ring, has been working since 2009 as a political science professor at City College of New York.

James E. McGreevey, former governor of New Jersey, resigned in 2004 after disclosing that he was gay and had had an affair with another man. He later picked up a teaching gig in the global M.B.A. program at Kean University.

Last month, former CIA director David H. Petraeus, who had an extramarital affair with his biographer, accepted a one-year visiting faculty position at the City University of New York. Just recently, USC announced that starting this fall he will be teaching part-time at USC. He will be teaching about issues such as international relations, energy, leadership and information technology. Petraeus will also be taking part in seminars and panels, as well as mentoring student veterans and ROTC members.

Going from politician to professor has been a trend seen throughout the past decade. But it’s not just any trend; it’s a second chance.

While they may no longer have the jobs they had, being a college professor easily allows them to share their knowledge and experience with students looking to go into the same fields they were in.

There is the concern of hiring these major public figures over individuals who have worked hard towards earning their teaching credentials, which is understandable. But it’s not everyday a school has a part-time or full-time lecturer who knows firsthand what it’s like to work directly with other major political figures, members of the CIA or fashion labels and designers. They have plenty of insights into their fields that many professors do not have.

Considering the poor decisions Spitzer, McGreevey and Petraeus had made in the past, there is no doubt that their transitions into the field of education have raised some eyebrows—and voices.

Designer John Galliano lost his job at Christian Dior following a racist rant made in a Paris bar, but Parsons The New School for Design in New York recently announced that they will have a four-day workshop led by Galliano himself.

As a result, an anonymous group of Parson students launched an online petition that demanded Galliano be removed from the event, the reason being that they did not want someone with such a reputation teaching at their school.

The problem people are having with these hires is reputation—negative reputation, to be exact.

Some people are calling it a “disgrace” for colleges and universities to hire someone whose reputation was tarnished by distasteful acts like extramarital affairs, anti-Semitic rants and use of escort services.

It’s understandable that we as people want well-rounded individuals holding such careers, but I’d rather one’s personal business be separated from their professional background.

In other words, give them a break.

I’m personally not fond about affairs and the like, but at the end of the day, unless it involves students, an educator’s sexual history is none of my business, nor should it be anyone’s.

If a teacher has strong views that goes against many people’s outlooks, I would trust they do not let it interfere with giving their students a balanced education.

All in all, unless someone was plotting horrendous crimes like a murder, a professor’s personal life is none of my business. I guarantee that aside from these major public figure, there may be “average” teachers out there who have occurrences in their personal life that they prefer to be kept private.

When I first heard about Petraeus’ upcoming job as a USC professor, I thought this was excellent news. His affair was the last thing that went through my mind.

People are free to think what they want about the “disgraced” politicians and public figures, but for the most part I am sure students are more excited about the fact that former CIA directors, governors and other well-known figures will be helping them succeed.

About Jennifer Nguyen