College Professor Resigns Over Nude Photos of Students

Sasha Brown-Worsham

Appalling as it is, it isn't all that shocking in this day and age to hear a story about a person in a position of authority using that position to take advantage of people. In this case, it's a college professor at Colby College in Maine who took nude photos of students without their consent.

Philip H. Brown, a tenured professor of economics who has taught at Colby since 2003, has not been charged and an investigation by the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit is ongoing, but he did resign over the photos, which were found by several students using the group laptop on a school trip to China. They showed a fellow classmate naked from the waist down. Allegedly Brown had given this student a "first aid kit" that contained the camera and somehow managed to film her. It was also not the first time he did something like this, he admitted, according to the New York Daily News.

Hey, at least they were 18 this time, right?

Of course, it's still wrong. This is disgusting on so many levels, but for me personally, it's especially horrifying because I went to Colby for my undergraduate work. It's a school in Maine where very little happens. "Camp Colby" we used to call it. Green and gorgeous in the summer with ponds and chapels and a rolling campus that could serve as a movie set depicting the quintessential college campus.

It's a top school, a member of the "Little Ivies," a group of colleges that aren't quite the Ivy League, but are nearly as selective, exclusive, and expensive. My four years at Colby were idyllic in many ways, but they were far from perfect.

It has been 10 years since I graduated and maybe it has changed, but it was a place where upper middle class and wealthy students went to spend their parents' money, party, and eventually go on to lucrative careers somewhere. This wasn't true of everyone, of course, but it was true of many, and there were a lot of questionable things that happened -- racist incidents, date rapes, drug overdoses. But it was the kind of school where only one student ever got pregnant and carried to term in the whole four years I was there and everyone talked about it.

That said, it was also the kind of place where I formed lifelong relationships with professors, fell in love with the written word, decided to go on to journalism school, studied religion, astronomy, and physics, and got to study abroad for six months in London and another six in Italy. It was my school and I would send my children there in a heartbeat (assuming we can afford the $60K a year it will likely cost).

This story makes me sad. It's a blight on the school, but I hope not as much as it could be. The fact is, Colby has been lucky in that few things have touched its idyllic campus. But it doesn't exist in a vacuum and there were bound to be a few sleazebags who made their way onto the campus. Had this happened at Ohio State, no one would bat an eye, but at a school like Colby where almost everyone is family, it's a shock.

What do you think of this story?


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