Since University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder) Professor Patricia Adler announced last week that she had chosen to leave the school rather than risk being disciplined for teaching her popular “Deviance in U.S. Society” course, CU-Boulder has asserted a handful of different claims about why Adler’s presentation on prostitution was improper. Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik reviewed CU-Boulder’s various claims and backpedaling:
First, Colorado said that the university was concerned that the activity required approval by an Institutional Review Board. After many professors (and Colorado's IRB) noted that institutional review boards don't review classroom activities, Colorado acknowledged that there was no IRB issue, and said that some students complained that they felt pressure to participate in the exercise (which Adler and many past participants denied).
Then on Wednesday at a press conference, officials said that their primary concern was that some students in the class had their photographs taken (or videos made) of the class without their consent, The Daily Camera reported. Adler told the newspaper that students know that the class—like many classes—is videotaped, and that no complaints have been raised.
Adler spoke with the Daily Camera newspaper about CU-Boulder’s sudden concern:
Adler said she's never heard any complaints about her deviance course in the 26 years she's been at CU. She wondered why, if administrators were aware of complaints in the past, they didn't discuss them with her to resolve the issues.
With many CU-Boulder community members voicing their concerns about the school’s handling of the situation, university spokesman Mark K. Miller stated Tuesday that the course might continue after all—if it is approved by a panel of faculty members. But while groups of faculty members necessarily make some decisions about curricula and course offerings, subjecting just one professor to review because of seemingly unfounded allegations of sexual harassment creates a serious risk of impinging on that professor’s academic freedom.
Check back on The Torch for updates on the case.
Image: Wolf Law Building at CU-Boulder - Wikimedia Commons