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Sex Toy Demonstration: Controversial Northwestern Class Won’t Be Offered Next Year

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from – Northwestern University will not offer a controversial human sexuality class next academic year after its professor came under fire for allowing a live sex-toy demonstration during an after-class lecture.

About 100 of psychology professor J. Michael Bailey’s students observed a naked woman being penetrated by a motorized sex toy on Feb. 21. The university said in March that it would investigate the incident; officials said Monday that the review continues.

“I learned a week or two ago that they had decided to cancel the course for next year,” psychology department chair Dan McAdams said Monday. “The decision was made higher up than me at the central administration level.”

No other Northwestern psychology professor is qualified to teach the subject, McAdams said. Bailey “will have other teaching assignments in the coming year,” according to a university statement.

“Courses in human sexuality are offered in a variety of academic departments in other universities, and Northwestern is reviewing how such a course best fits into the University’s curriculum,” according to the statement.

University deans determine course assignments, according to the statement.

Northwestern president Morton Schapiro acknowledged last month that the university faced a torrent of criticism, and said there were days when he spent four hours responding to people upset about the class.

“I’ve been in academia for 32 years. I thought I had seen everything. I hadn’t,” Schapiro told the Tribune.

The demonstration occurred on a campus auditorium stage after class, and attendance was optional. It followed a discussion about kinky sex and female orgasm, and about 100 of the 600 students stayed.

Schapiro said that while professors have the privilege of academic freedom, they also have to act responsibly.

“You don’t have a right without a responsibility,” he said. “Where is the line? We have all been considering that.”

Bailey could not be reached Monday. In March, he said in a statement that he regrets “the effect that this has had on Northwestern University’s reputation.”

However, he said the demonstration was “relevant to a topic relevant to my course.”

The tentative list of psychology courses to be offered next academic year, dated May 5 and posted online, indicates that Bailey will teach two 300-level “special topics” courses next year: “Dangerous Ideas” and “Behavior Genetics and Evolutionary Psychology.”

Bailey had taught the human sexuality class since 1994.


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