Speaking Point: After a human sexuality class, Professor John Michael Bailey invited students to stay for a demonstration but warned 5 or 6 times would be graphic. Out of 567, about100 stayed to watch a sexual act which involved two non-students and a electric-powered device.” His purpose was to engage students in conversation about sexual diversity. But how far is too far? Did he violate an ethics code? Perhaps hundreds of students would not have left before the demonstration if shock value was not used.
Speaking Point: The president of the university first stated that the school “supports the efforts of faculty to further the advancement of knowledge.” The next day, Schapiro backtracked, saying he was disturbed and would launch an investigation. Why did he change his tune? When our core beliefs become malleable, what does this say about our integrity? Our standards, our values should be steadfast and unchanging. However, when there is public outcry, one falls victim to peer pressure and changes their beliefs.
Speaking Point: What made over 400 students decide to leave the classroom and not stay for the exhibition? Did they believe that a line was being crossed that made them uncomfortable? "For me, I'm glad I didn't see it. It was a little too explicit for me, and if I were in the class, if I would have stayed for the demonstration, I probably would have left. I know a couple of my friends did get up and leave," student Diana Lorenzini said.
Speaking Point: If NU censured Bailey and his future teachings, this would possibly deter qualified professors and students from attending the university. The idea that administration can determine what professors teach in the classroom may be enough to deter some professors from working at NU and students from attending.
Speaking Point: Did the professor use shock value to involve the students in a discussion about sexual diversity by having a live sex toy demonstration? There is little harm in having the conversation, but a live demonstration crosses a line. There is a way to engage in an open discussion without having to use the element of shock to lead to full engagement.
Speaking Point: Does a controversial topic demonstrate the open-mindedness of adults? Or bring out their biases? Who has the final say about what goes on in a classroom? Is it the responsibility of these students to act as adults and make choices for themselves, or for the university to do so?
Speaking Point: Bailey’s viewpoint is that “engaging real people in conversation provides useful examples and extensions of concepts students learn about in traditional academic ways…” Paraphrasing his words, silencing sex research brings a negative light upon sex in general. True. But it’s possible that his choice to push the boundaries also pushed away the over 400 that left the classroom that day.
Speaking Point: In Bailey’s words: ”Thoughtful discussion of controversial topics is a cornerstone of learning.” He believes that engaging real people in conversation provides useful examples and extensions of concepts students learn about in traditional academic ways. But he has gone too far this time – shock value isn’t necessary to get students’ attention.
Speaking Point: Many protesters believe that they know what’s best for the students, that this was a violations of the school’s ethics code, and that there was a lack of wisdom and common sense exhibited by professor Bailey. School "research" to "push the edge" of his discipline has the power to devalue a degree. But this begs the question: Can one be sure of how they would feel about something they haven’t experienced? Is that bias harmful? Naïve?