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How Far Is Too Far in a College Sexuality Course?

We're used to controversy around middle and high school sex education--but sometimes even college courses become the center of a storm of outrage.

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As a professor, if I was to “force” them to disclose, I feel that I would be violating their trust in me and their trust in themselves, and would be losing an opportunity to role model respect.   In the end, many of my students do disclose highly personal information, but it is my hope that they find it empowering and therapeutic.  

The essence of the darker sides of sexuality usually revolves around the inability to exercise choice and control. By forcing someone to do an assignment with no other option, one is replicating that very essence of abusive sexuality.

I believe that the professor is WAY off base.  NOBODY has a right to DEMAND self-disclosure, particularly of an intimate nature.  PERIOD.  EXCLAMATION POINT!!

Though most of my colleagues agree that this particular professor crossed a line, thus far all of the student’s complaints have been dismissed. Her initial complaint to the professor was dismissed with him saying that she had signed an acknowledgement of the course content at the beginning of the semester. He also suggested that she drop out of the course saying that “he didn’t think she was able to fully commit to the course experience.”  The administration was similarly dismissive though it claims to have investigated the situation by talking to students and reviewing the syllabi going a back a few years. 

The school’s investigator concluded: “…since the course was an elective and all students were informed about the nature of course material and had signed a waiver, there was no evidence of unwelcome sexual harassment.” The student went on to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, “alleging that the college discriminated against her on the basis of sex by subjecting her to sexual harassment.” This was also dismissed with the department saying it would defer to the college’s decision.  On June 25th the student filed suit against the school and the professor asking for over $75,000 in damages.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of the lawsuit.  In the meantime, however, there seems to be a general consensus that this professor went too far and I would hope that come this fall he modifies his curriculum so that no other students are forced to divulge traumatic information.

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