Patti Adler, CU professor, called on the carpet over prostitution skit
Patti Adler is a longtime professor at CU-Boulder. But whether she'll continue at the school is unclear at this writing due to complaints over a prostitution skit included in her "Deviance in U.S. Society" class. Not since CU-Boulder's long-running (and ultimately successful) effort to fire controversial professor Ward Churchill has a conflict between the university and an instructor roused such passions, including multiple social media campaigns and an online petition to save Adler's job. Get details, see a video and read CU's response below.
Photos, video and more below.
An article in the publication Inside Higher Ed features an interview with Adler, who notes that the prostitution lecture has been part of her class for many years. In it, she has teaching assistants portray prostitutes who fit into assorted categories: "slave whores, crack whores, bar whores, streetwalkers, brothel workers and escort services."
The TAs, who Adler says volunteer to take part, then appear at the class in costume, with the prof conducting script-based mock-interviews featuring their comments about the specifics of their jobs and the inherent risks.
Here's a screen capture from one lecture, as seen in a 9News report below:
Even though participation in the lecture is said to be "entirely voluntary and not part of anyone's grade," Adler tells Inside Higher Ed that her approach troubled Steven Leigh, College of Arts and Sciences dean, after he heard from an ex-TA who'd "raised a concern that some participants might be uncomfortable." Adler says Leigh mentioned the "post-Penn State environment" -- a reference, presumably, to the Jerry Sandusky child-sex scandal -- in the context of suggesting that the prostitution lecture presented "too much risk."
As such, Adler says Leigh gave her the option of accepting a buyout from CU or sticking around but agreeing not to teach the course and present the prostitution lecture -- both of which strike her as violating the letter and spirit of academic freedom.
Ditto that for those who've been weighing in on the Help Patti Adler stay at CU!!! Facebook group and a second page entitled Help Save Patti Adler's Teaching Career. Here's one particularly telling post on the former:
Patti's research and Deviance in Society class is one of the major reasons I wanted to become a sociologist. Her work, although controversial at times, is instrumental in the study of sociology and CU would be making a huge mistake letting her go. Who wants to take a class that is run of the mill, doesn't make them think or challenge them in any way? Controversial? Sure. But there are a lot of classes you could deem 'controversial' or 'inappropriate' at CU. Patti is a strong and inspirational professor and she should be treasured at CU, not cast aside.Continue for more about Patti Adler and CU-Boulder, including another photo, a video and a letter from to students and staff about the issue.