BOULDER - University of Colorado officials have ordered a Boulder professor to stop teaching a course on deviant behavior because of a lecture that featured a skit on prostitution, touching off a debate over educational freedom.
CU Provost Russell Moore sent an email to students, faculty and staff on Monday saying sociology professor Patti Adler is being suspended from teaching the class because of complaints from students who did not want to participate in a role-playing skit. Students told administrators privately they felt their grades would be affected if they did not participate.
“Academic freedom does not allow faculty members to 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 in the email.
Moore said any employee at CU who violates the sexual harassment policy is subject to discipline, including termination.
During the lecture, Adler’s teaching assistants portrayed prostitutes ranging from sex slaves to escorts, and described for the class their lifestyles.
Adler announced during a lecture for that course last Thursday that administrators were trying to force her out of the university because her course’s skit on prostitution was seen as a “risk” to the University of Colorado, the Boulder Daily Camera reported on Tuesday.
Adler told the newspaper on Monday that university administrators gave her an ultimatum: take a buyout and retire, or stay at the university but not teach her signature class next semester. University officials deny giving her an ultimatum.
Adler said she was told if the administration received even one complaint about her, she would be fired immediately, without retirement benefits.
Adler, 62, said she has not decided whether to accept the buyout or remain at the university.
“I’m still trying to get my head to stop whirling,” she said.
Boulder campus spokesman Mark Miller said he could not comment on any offer Adler may have received from CU.
Students have organized a protest in support of Patti Adler on Jan. 3 on the Boulder campus.