A current student at Boston University who asked to remain anonymous said College of Fine Arts professor of music and horn performance Eric Ruske engaged in a conversation with them on the dating app Tinder in early May.
The student said they found Ruske on the app in May after raising their preferred age range to above 50 as a joke, similar to another student who interacted with the professor on the dating app Bumble.
Screenshots obtained by The Daily Free Press show Ruske’s and the student’s verified Tinder profiles, as well as their conversation within the app dated May 5.
In contrast to the previous instance, Ruske’s Tinder profile does not identify himself as a BU professor — only several photos, his first name, his age listed as 58, physical distance from the student and sexual orientation. The student’s profile displays they are 19 and that they’re at BU.
The student said they were not initially aware Ruske was a CFA professor, but figured it out after conducting a Google search.
The student said the fact that Ruske is pursuing 19-year-old students who attend the University he works at is “highly inappropriate.”
“He’s teaching undergraduate students and he knowingly messaged me with Boston University being in my bio,” they said, “so it wasn’t like it was a big secret that I’m an undergraduate at BU.”
Ruske did not respond to request for comment. BU spokesperson Colin Riley declined to comment.
Screenshots of the conversation show Ruske wrote he does not do pick-up lines in response to the student’s bio, which asks for good pick up lines.
“We boys just aren’t terribly f—— creative, are we?” his message reads with a grinning face with smiling eyes emoji, according to the screenshot. “Too easily distracted by shiny things…and big boobs.”
CFA students shared mixed opinions on the professor. Some said Ruske has never made them uncomfortable, while others noted the interactions form a concerning pattern.
Jessica Young, a CFA doctoral student studying French horn, said Ruske has never made inappropriate comments or made her feel uncomfortable in the five years she has been his student.
“He’s one of the only people I’ve ever studied with, and I’ve taken many trial lessons, who has never discredited the fact that I was a woman,” Young said. “I came here because he has the same high standards for every single person in the studio, and that’s what keeps us getting better.”
Young added many horn students choose BU because they have studied with one of Ruske’s past students.
She said she was present at the University during part of the sexual misconduct trial between Ruske and his former students, adding that while reports and articles about the trial gave her some pause, her experience with him has been largely positive.
“It was just annoying to see people just deciding to attack him for never seeing him, never meeting him, never standing in the same room with him,” Young said. “It seems so simple in these articles that this guy is a bad guy and he’s only here to f— all the women, but honestly he’s there to teach us how to be better horn players.”
Young said she believes Ruske’s interactions with the BU student on Bumble were consensual, given “it is a dating app.”
“It’s just frustrating that one thing that has potentially nothing to do with even a CFA student … is bringing him back into potentially getting fired,” she said. “There is no part of me that can go to this school without him.”
Reyna Flores, a senior in CFA and the College of Arts and Sciences, called Ruske’s interactions with students through dating apps “extemely concerning” and said she found them to constitute sexual harassment.
“If he’s your professor, it’s extremely unprofessional and so inappropriate to be pursuing your students at the school that you work at,” Flores said.
As a violin performance major in the School of Music, Flores said she doesn’t see much of Ruske save in hallways and streets, but said one of her closest friends, a French horn major and student of Ruske, has shared her experiences.
“She describes them in a casual way and brushing them off, but to me it’s pretty alarming to hear,” Flores said. “I remember being really shocked when my friend told me that he made some crude gestures toward her and insinuated that she had large boobs.”
CAS senior Ilana Balog said having taken a class with Ruske her freshman year, Ruske never made her uncomfortable, and that she generally does not hold a bad opinion of him.
“I think that these [incidents] are definitely something that needs to be taken in consideration with regard to my opinion of him,” she said, “but I wouldn’t say he was overly making everybody uncomfortable.”
During that studio horn class she took freshman year, Balog said, Ruske had a “very intense” energy in the classroom and would often speak with “no filter,” making some students a bit uncomfortable.
She said she thinks the University has taken little disciplinary action toward Ruske because of his skill as a musician and professor.
“I think that the school is overlooking everything because they feel like he’s so valuable,” Balog said, “because he’s so talented and such a good professor and produces really good students.”
CFA Dean Harvey Young and Associate Dean Ruthie Jean did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Flores said she hopes disciplinary action is taken toward Ruske, adding the current situation is not “something you can just brush under the rug.”
“Especially for my colleagues, I hope that something happens,” Flores said. “I hope that it’s not just a slap on the wrist, and I definitely hope that he’s punished for his actions because it makes it a toxic learning environment.”
They lied about their age on a dating app to prank him and are now complaining he contacted them on his own time.
My question is to Professor Ruske …where is your integrity and ability to make some good choices for yourself by not even giving the appearance of poor judgment and a professor who preys on 19 year olds? Do you realize their brains are not fully developed until age 25? Does it matter to you that this might make other students feel very uneasy around you? Time for some major self-reflection and you are lucky I am not the parent of a female attending your class right now. The comment about liking the big boobs was creepy and should be left for later on in the bedroom with someone who is NOT the age of your students or a student. But the part about not being very creative was spot on. You lack a great deal in the creative and brains department. Best of luck keeping your position at BU if their SARP department has any weight.
Just as I thought – a pattern exists
Court denies CFA professor’s request to dismiss sexual harassment charges – The Daily Free Press