War on sex or just colleges gone crazy?

Tim Goral's picture
Monday, January 13, 2014

I'm probably not the only person in Boulder who vacillates between being intellectually shocked and wildly amused over the ongoing Patti Adler fuss at the University of Colorado. Adler, a sociology professor at CU, has taught a course entitled "Deviance in U.S. Society" for years. Over time, it became a popular class and, in spite of taking on a topic that is, by definition, dealing with the fringes of acceptable social behavior, no student has ever lodged a complaint about the course content. Maybe that's because Adler leaves out some of the really good stuff or maybe because students signing up to learn about "deviant behavior" are hoping for the really good stuff. Either way, students seemed to enjoy the educational experience.

Those were the days when men were men, women were women, and deviance was accepted academic subject matter. No more.

The course includes a prostitution skit where student aides working for class credit role-play parts of "the world's oldest profession." Apparently, some aides found this a bit too creepy, but they didn't want to offend Adler with their hang-ups so, they decided instead to squawk up the academic chain. It took about 12 seconds for this little nugget to make it to CU's Office of Discrimination and Harassment which, according to their website, considers anything that qualifies as "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature" as sexual harassment. Smelling trouble, this brain trust in charge of investigating sexual harassment at CU sat in on Adler's class and busted her for the crime of Risking Sexual Harassment at CU. The CU Administration responded calmly by arranging a firing squad and doing everything they could to get Adler out of the university and-I-mean-now.

Adler didn't like that idea, so she told her story to the students, faculty, and media and watched it blow up in CU's face. It worked.

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