Associate Prof. Yaron Eliav, who was charged with a misdemeanor for his involvement in a prostitution case with a female student in the Law School, is set to return to his teaching position next fall.
Eliav, whose felony charges were brought down to a misdemeanor in December, is scheduled to teach History 277: The Land of Israel/Palestine through the Ages during the fall term.
In April 2008, Eliav paid a University Law student $300 to perform sexual acts after she advertised herself on Craigslist.com, according to a Dec. 12, 2008 Ann Arbor News article.
The 22-year-old student reported that while she and Eliav did not have intercourse, the encounter became dangerous when Eliav allegedly slapped her twice across the face with a belt, the article said.
While Eliav was originally charged with prostitution/accosting and solicitation, he pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge of using a computer to commit a crime. In December, he was sentenced to 12 months of probation.
Prof. Gary Beckman, the chair of the Near Eastern Studies Department, wrote in an e-mail interview that he could not comment on Eliav’s return to the classroom.
Though University Spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said she was also unable to comment on Eliav’s case specifically, she explained the University’s policy pertaining to staff members with criminal records.
“There is no policy that lays out a blanket prohibition of hiring people who have criminal records because that would be illegal,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham further explained that the decision made by the University is then based on the crime committed and the professor’s responsibilities as a teacher.
“We have to look at the connection between the person’s employment responsibilities and the crime they committed,” she said.
Cunningham explained that whether or not the person in question is applying for a faculty position or is already a professor, it is the actual criminal record that is taken into question.
Based on this policy, Eliav’s charge of a misdemeanor, using a computer to commit a felony, was the only thing reviewed by the University, not the initial felony charge of prostitution/accosting and solicitation that was eventually dropped.
A number of Eliav’s former students said they believe his personal past should not interfere with his teaching responsibilities.
LSA freshman Reed McNamara, who took a class taught by Eliav in fall 2008, said as long as the scandal did not affect him in the classroom, there would be no reason he would not be able to teach effectively again in the new semester.
“He was a good teacher during the semester,” McNamara said. “Unless (the case) affected his teaching, I don’t see why he couldn’t continue.”
LSA freshman Cassie Hazelip, also a former student of Eliav’s, said she believed that the separation between professional and private life should keep the case from interfering with Eliav’s teaching.
“I think teaching and what you do outside of teaching should be kept separate,” Hazelip said. “If the University can separate those two, then the students should be able to as well.”
Many students, however, admitted they knew very little about the controversy that was made public in December. Both McNamara and Hazelip said they knew some of the details about the case concerning Eliav and the female law student.
LSA sophomore Andrew Dickson, who also took a class taught by Eliav in the fall, said he didn’t know much about the case, though he said he felt Eliav was an adequate teacher and doubted the case would affect his teaching abilities.
“I’m not too familiar with the case, but I thought he was a good teacher,” Dickson said. “But from a moral standpoint I can’t really say if I think he should return, because I don’t really know the details.”