Prostitution skit leads to review of University of Colorado-Boulder professor

7:25 PM, Dec 16, 2013   |    comments
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BOULDER - The emails to 9NEWS started Friday. Many claimed a University of Colorado sociology professor was forced to retire because of her controversial lecture about prostitution. CU said Professor Patti Adler has not been forced to retire, but the university is investigating whether the lecture constituted sexual harassment.

The class is deviance in U.S. society. Around 500 students enrolled were exposed to a lesson they'll never forget.

In November, professor Adler explained levels of prostitution through a skit put on by several of her teaching assistants. The skit begins with a teaching assistant portraying a sex slave. Video of the skit shows the girl wearing lingerie, accompanied by another person playing her pimp. Students say five other teaching assistants portrayed different kinds of prostitutes.

Sophomore Colin Harkrider attended the lecture.

"That will stick with me for awhile. It was very unorthodox," Harkrider said.

While he supports the lecture, Harkrider says the skit was initially slightly uncomfortable.

"One girl, she was wearing a short skirt, a thong, where you could see fishnet stockings and a short little top," he explained.

Professor Adler told 9NEWS the provocative skit has been a part of her course for the past 20 years. She says the new sociology chair warned her against the performance but she went ahead with it claiming academic freedom. Adler says the university took action against her for the skit, offering a buyout which gives the professor the option to retire or give up teaching the class for at least one semester.

The university says this isn't about academic freedom but sexual harassment. Provost Russell Moore said students complained.

"Student assistants made it clear to administrators that they felt there would be negative consequences for anyone who refused to participate in the skit," he said in a statement.

A Facebook page with over 700 members has been set up to support the professor. Some students, like freshman Sonia Seligova, who attended the lecture, say they learned from it.

"I think what that lecture really did teach me is what goes on and how women are treated," Seligova explained, "I think a lot of people know that Patti has made a big impact in this school and I honestly believe it's all politics."

The University is reviewing the skit. If professor Adler is found responsible for violating the sexual harassment policy she could be fired.

Adler said she has been given until Jan. 6, 2014 to decide whether to take the buyout.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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