- A tenured Colorado professor has run into trouble after a lecture on prostitution featured a skit in which students dressed up as prostitutes, sex slaves and escorts.
University of Colorado sociology professor Patty Adler said the lecture earlier this semester was meant to show students lifestyles that lead to prostitution, but administrators didn't see it that way. She said they gave her a choice: Take a buyout and retire after 26 years, or have her course reviewed by the sociology department, the Daily Camera newspaper reported yesterday.
She hadn't made a decision, the Camera said.
More than 500 students enrolled in Adler's "Deviance in U.S. Society" course this term. Adler said she never had complaints before about the course from university administrators.
Steven Leigh, dean of the university's College of Arts and Sciences, said Wednesday that his main concern was that students were photographed or filmed without their consent during the skit. Adler said all students know they are being videotaped, and they often ask for copies.
Provost Russell Moore told the university in an email Monday that some students may have "felt there would be negative consequences for anyone who refused to participate in the skit."
Moore added that the university's commitment to academic freedom doesn't protect anyone who may "violate the university's sexual harassment policy by creating a hostile environment for their teaching assistants, or for their students attending the class."
Moore said he had evidence of complaints from more than one student, the Camera reported. He didn't elaborate.
Students have rallied in Adler's support, creating a Facebook group and an online petition.
Caitlin McCluskey, a senior, told the Camera she performed as a prostitute in the skit. No one was forced to participate, she said.
"I never felt pressured in any way," McCluskey said.
The Colorado chapter of the American Association of University Professors issued a statement Wednesday urging the university to respect Adler's judgment in the classroom. Other faculty protested the university's actions in a Wednesday meeting with administrators.