Friday, January 8, 2016

Amherst and Las Putas

Voting is still underway for this year’s Curmie Award (please vote if you haven’t already) and we’ve already got a strong contender for next year’s… erm… honor.

Here’s the lede for a Washington Post article by Susan Svriuga: “Teaching assistants at Amherst College were encouraged to sleep with and socialize with students to boost enrollment in the Spanish department, according to a lawsuit filed by a former faculty member.” Excuse me, but… WHAAAAAT???

Yes, Dimaris Barrios-Beltran is “a pretty face.” 
Curmie suspects she’s got more to offer than that.
Yes, it’s true. That is to say, there is indeed such a lawsuit, brought by former lecturer Dimaris Barrios-Beltran against her former boss, Victoria Maillo. So one of two things is true: Maillo was essentially running a forced prostitution ring out of the Spanish Department at one of the nation’s most reputable academic institutions, or a fired lecturer has fabricated a particularly scurrilous form of vengeance against her former employer (Barrios-Beltran was dismissed, officially because of declining enrollments; Maillo no longer teaches at Amherst). Given the fact that the Maillo just sort of disappeared and Barrios-Beltran now teaches at Mount Holyoke, Curmie sort of suspects that the airborne particulate matter suggests the presence of a conflagration.

Assuming Barrios-Beltran’s version of events to be accurate, Maillo was upset with a TA for dating a student at the University of Massachusetts instead of someone from Amherst. The TA told Barrios-Beltran that Maillo was treating her “like a prostitute.” Asked if the TA was expected to sleep with “a different guy every night” like one of her colleagues was supposedly doing, Maillo responded “that’s what I brought you here for.” She allegedly sought “pretty faces” to fill TA and lecturer positions. Barrios-Beltran certainly qualifies in that regard, but she says Maillo retaliated against her when she objected to her supervisor’s shall we say idiosyncratic recruitment methods, ridiculing her Puerto Rican accent, and trashing Jews and people with disabilities for good measure. The TAs have all returned to their native Spain. They’re reluctant to talk, but will apparently testify if the case goes to trial.

Curmie confesses to being a little baffled. He understands the allure of a pretty face, however euphemistic that term might be, but wonders if one can really seduce one’s way to meaningfully larger enrollments, especially of students savvy enough to get into Amherst. But then again, it’s been a while since Curmie was 20. One never knows.

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