CU prof Patti Adler dropping prostitution skit, adding "administrative interference" speech

Categories: Education, News

Photos, video below.
In December, CU professor Patti Adler was thrust into controversy over a prostitution skit that's long been part of a class entitled "Deviance in U.S. Society." Adler backers blasted the university, which eventually backed down. But after being told she could teach the class pretty much as normal, Adler announced in January that she'll retire later this year.

The latest? Adler has now nixed the prostitution skit, too -- a decision she'll no doubt explore in a speech this week about "academic interference."

As we've reported, Adler says the prostitution lecture has been part of her class for many years. Over that span, teaching assistants have portrayed prostitutes who fit into assorted categories: "slave whores, crack whores, bar whores, streetwalkers, brothel workers and escort services."

The TAs, who Adler says volunteered to take part, then appeared 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 of the skits, as seen in a 9News report on view below:

Even though participation in the lecture was said to be "entirely voluntary and not part of anyone's grade," Adler told the publication 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."

Adler said 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 struck her as violating the letter and spirit of academic freedom. But after a contentious meeting at which associate sociology professor Leslie Irvine demanded the resignation of provost Russell L. Moore for allegedly implying that Adler was under investigation for sexual harassment in a message to students (a charge CU denies), Leigh sent a letter to the prof inviting her to teach the "Deviance" class again during the spring 2014 semester.

The only caveat, according to the Boulder Daily Camera, was that she'd get "full informed consent" from teaching assistants who took part in the prostitution skit -- something she insisted she'd always done.

But such consent proved more problematic than Adler had thought.

Continue for more about Patti Adler's decision to retire, including another photo and two videos.

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