Student wegen "falscher Ansichten" über sexuelle Gewalt vom Unterricht ausgeschlossen
Reed College, a small liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon, attracts students who want to speak their mind. But when Jeremiah True wouldn’t stop talking about his controversial opinions on sexual assault in his required freshman humanities course, his professor banned him from the discussion segment of the class for the remainder of the semester.
The 19-year-old told BuzzFeed News that his professor, Pancho Savery, warned him repeatedly that his views made his classmates uncomfortable before he told him in a March 14 email that he was no longer welcome to participate in the "conference" section of his Humanities 110 lecture-seminar class.
(...) It was his questioning of the widely shared and often debated statistic that 1 in 5 women in college are sexually assaulted — it doesn’t serve "actual rape victims" to "overinflate" numbers, he said — and his rejection of the term "rape culture" that led to him being banned, he said.
"I am critical of the idea of a rape culture because it does not exist," he wrote in a lengthy email to Savery explaining his perspectives that he has also posted online. "We live in a society that hates rape, but also hasn’t optimized the best way to handle rape. Changing the legal definition of rape is a slippery slope. If sexual assault becomes qualified as rape, what happens next? What else can we legally redefine to become rape? Why would we want to inflate the numbers of rape in our society?"
(...) "There are several survivors of sexual assault in our conference, and you have made them extremely uncomfortable with what they see as not only your undermining incidents of rape, but of also placing too much emphasis on men being unfairly charged with rape," Savery wrote to True. "The entire conference without exception, men as well as women, feel that your presence makes them uncomfortable enough that they would rather not be there if you are there, and they have said that things you have said in our conference have made them so upset that they have difficulty concentrating in other classes. I, as conference leader, have to do what is best for the well-being of the entire class, and I am therefore banning you from conference for the remainder of the semester."
(...) True told BuzzFeed News that he didn’t feel he had belittled or "incited violence" against any sexual assault survivors who may have been in class.
"I simply questioned the statistics," he said. "I understand [Savery] has to take care of his students, but I have to take care of my education."
(...) Private colleges aren’t bound by the First Amendment. But Ari Cohn at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said the foundation was interested in investigating True’s case. "Banning a student from a course simply because he expressed views on a topic of classroom discussion that some disagree with or are made uncomfortable by is generally inappropriate," Cohn said. "A college campus is precisely the place for students to grapple with ideas and develop critical thinking skills, often by challenging prevailing wisdom and subjecting their assumptions to rigorous testing."
Many students on campus said they were happy that Savery had made a decision that benefited the other students in his class.
"I’m really comforted by the administrative response," said Kate Hilts, a junior. "It’s really nice to know that my school supports survivors and listens when they say they don’t feel safe. Rape culture is indisputable and [True’s] words and actions are deeply upsetting. They’ve retraumatized and triggered survivors, and that seems antithetical to Reed culture."
True isn’t planning on quieting down anytime soon. On Wednesday, he emailed a lengthy diatribe to the college’s professors and launched a change.org petition that currently has more than 350 signatures.
"I just want to bring attention to the fact that this happens on colleges," he said. "Right now, going to college is a terrifying experience if you are male."
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