Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Going to strip clubs for fun and class credit

The Bush administration plans to spend $100 million per year to promote marriage among the poor. Presumably this will come out of all the job training programs that have been axed. I trust no cynic out there is thinking that this exists solely in order to trick people into screwing up their eligibility for welfare.

One plan they could adopt was that put into practice by a British civil servant trying to get her boyfriend, another civil servant, to propose to her. She put his naked picture online and said it wouldn’t come off until he proposed. He doesn’t seem to have, but she did crash her server and got booted.

The war in Afghanistan just mysteriously expanded, with the US now bombing tribal forces opposed to the puppet government, but in no wise connected with the Taliban or Al Qaeda.

Attorney-and-Witchfinder General John Aschcroft, speaking to religious broadcasters, said that this is not a religious war, except for God being on our side. “Civilized people--Muslims, Christians and Jews--all undertand that the source of freedom and human dignity is the Creator.” Not being a civilized person, I can respond to that only in a series of grunts and bellows.

Following is from the Daily Cal. Comments seriatim, in brackets.
Male Sexuality Class Put on Hold Amid National Media Attention
Questionable Group Activities Cited as Cause
Tuesday, February 19, 2002

The UC Berkeley male sexuality class that came under fire last week has been suspended by administrators while an investigation into reports of illicit class activities is conducted.

The class’s female counterpart is also under review, but has not been suspended, officials said.

A meeting between the instructors of the student-run classes took place Friday, following an inquiry into the classes by The Daily Californian. But when instructors of the male sexuality class failed to show up, the class was pulled, said George Breslauer, dean of social sciences at UC Berkeley. [Unfortunately, the class rather got off on being pulled.]

Students and instructors of the class told the Daily Cal they took trips to strip clubs and “sex exchanges” and watched an instructor strip. Some also said a party at an instructor’s house included group sex and a “party game” that had students photographing their genitalia and then trying to match the pictures to the correct body. [Pin the tail on the donkey for the frat crowd. Isn’t it weird that the article doesn’t specify that these were gay strip clubs? And the instructor stripped at a strip club--and did rather more than that. Somebody has removed all the homosexual content from this article.]

Those activities came as a surprise to the professor charged with overseeing the course, Caren Kaplan, chair of the women’s studies department. She told the Daily Cal she does not “police the content.” [Although the students did keep asking her to dress up in a policewoman’s uniform.]

But now she is heading the investigation into the reports, which have attracted national media attention, said Breslauer.

Under the policies guiding the classes, dubbed “DE-Cals” for Democratic Education at Cal, the sponsoring professor must sign off on the curriculum and then is “responsible for the content” of the class.

A second system of checks is intended, requiring the head of the sponsoring department to agree “that the course is an appropriate one for his or her department.”

But since Kaplan is both the sponsoring professor and the chair of the department, no secondary approval was needed.

She could not be reached for comment over the weekend.

Breslauer, her immediate supervisor, said it was “too premature” to make a determination of wrongdoing on Kaplan’s part. [I know this is sadly pedantic of me, but I’m torn between making an obvious joke based on the word premature or pointing out that “too premature” is a faulty usage.]

He said DE-Cal classes are “run with very little faculty oversight,” and added, “That will probably change.” [As soon as they hear about the strip clubs.]

The DE-Cal program is currently offering more than 100 courses, the topics of which range from the history of Afghanistan to counting cards in blackjack. The classes are not funded by the university, but are provided use of campus facilities and count for between 1-2 units toward graduation.

The program is regarded as a triumph for liberal, democratic education. But some fear that the activities in the male sexuality class have endangered the entire program.

Aside from indicating more supervision may be on the horizon, administrators have not said there will be drastic changes to the program.

Instructors of the female sexuality class have already begun to
distance themselves from their male counterpart. [Which hasn’t noticed and is lying back smoking a cigarette.]

“The male and female sexuality classes are two separate classes and are in no way affiliated,” said Kim Brodsky, an instructor of a female sexuality class. “We support and defend the curriculum of our course as educational and empowering, and we are looking forward to teaching this class for years to come.” [Would a joke based on “to come” be too crude?]

Instructors of the 2-unit male sexuality class [although it likes to brag that it has 8 units] likewise defended their curriculum. Drew Navarro, one instructor, said the classes “provide a much-needed forum” for discussion “of how students really feel about themselves and their bodies and others.”

The course description on the DE-Cal Web site says the class is
“intended to provide a safe environment in which men may learn about their own bodies and male sexuality. This course aims to create a greater community of men and women who are empathetic, understanding and supportive of each other’s sexuality.”

Some students enrolled in the male sexuality class are now searching for other classes to get their course load above their colleges’ minimum unit requirement for full-time student designation--typically 11-13 units.

“Current students are paying the price for alleged wrongdoings last semester,” Breslauer said.

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