Monday, September 16, 2013

FemSex is Back at Marquette

[Updated on September 16 - see below]

But not with the approval of the Marquette Administration.

The bawdy, promisculty-encouraging “workshop” where all sorts of things sexual are concerned, and nobody is supposed to be “judgmental,” will be held on campus this fall.

The version back in the Spring semester was sponsored by the Marquette Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. It was cancelled when an uproar over the program caused the Marquette administration to cancel it.

The program featured activities such as having the participants create a piece of “erotica,” and coloring in the “cunt coloring book.” We discussed the program in detail last spring. According to the course syllabus:
Themes include pleasure, health, gender, consent, boundaries, privilege, power, body image, communication, race, class, orgasms, masturbation, sex, kink, and sexual identities.
The version this fall will be sponsored by the Honors Program (although Honors provides no funding). This supposedly does not represent a reversal of policy by the University. Rather, academic departments are allowed to decide on their own programs (a matter of academic freedom), and sponsorship by a department does not constitute university endorsement.

The Honors Program is controlled by the English and Philosophy departments, two of the most politically correct departments on campus.


Brian Farley has challenged one part of the above post, asking:
The Honors Program? Really?

So academic freedom allows departments to do whatever they want, no matter how academically dubious, anti-Catholic, etc.?
Brian has a point here.

None of the traditional norms about academic freedom say that anybody on a university campus has the right to say anything any time they want. And none of them say that a university (or any division thereof, such as the Honors Program) has to sponsor any particular speaker, workshop, or discussion group.

The traditional norms of academic freedom apply to faculty. And they protect faculty only when speaking in their area of professional expertise. Those norms would not protect a math professor who wanted to pop off about how evil the Tea Party movement is. They would mean, for example, that a professor, teaching a course on the Ethics of Sex would have a right to say that homosexual acts are perfectly moral and licit (contradicting Catholic teaching).    They would not require any department, program or division of any university to sponsor a program pushing that point of view.

Those norms do not apply to persons with no appropriate academic credentials giving a course that is not part of the curriculum, gives no academic credit, and doesn’t have any particular academic legitimacy.

In short, the Honors Program sponsored this program because they wanted to. And the University allowed it because they chose to, not because they had to. The Honors Program is run by Amelia Zurcher, a faculty member in English and one of the people who signed a statement supporting the hiring of the aggressively lesbian Dean candidate, Jodi O’Brien.

Marquette has allowed departments to sponsor “The Vagina Monologues,” which it has not allowed recognized student groups to perform with official recognition. That raunchy play has been sponsored by the Honors Program, and Social and Cultural Sciences (Sociology).

One could view Marquette’s acceptance as a principled respect for the autonomy of departments. Saying “the autonomy of departments” is a more precise formulation than “academic freedom.”

But then, one could view this as a cynical policy to distance the Administration from distasteful stuff, while not getting the politically correct crowd on campus too mad. But if this were truly a Catholic university, the Administration would be willing to make the politically correct crowd mad.

And it would not give control of the Honors Program to those folks.

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Blogger James Pawlak said...

Does "academic freedom" override the teachings of the Church; Or, is that only at Jesuit and not Catholic schools?

6:08 PM  
Blogger City Father said...


I came across your blog by accident. I hope you are doing well.
Ron Franco
(You can find my blog at "City Father")

2:36 PM  

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