US students are petitioning for their university to replace a professor with a ‘queer person of color.’
University of the Arts, Philadelphia, students have accused Camille Paglia of ‘degrading transgender individuals’ in classes and interviews.
In the petition, student Sheridan Merrick claimed: ‘She believes that most transgender people are merely participating in a fashion trend.’
What has the professor said?
Critics have pointed to a 2017 interview, in which Paglia told the now-defunct Weekly Standard: ‘Although I describe myself as transgender (I was donning flamboyant male costumes from early childhood on), I am highly skeptical about the current transgender wave.
‘Which I think has been produced by far more complicated psychological and sociological factors than current gender discourse allows.’
Moreover, the petition goes onto allege that Pagila has ‘blatantly mocked survivors of sexual assault and the #MeToo movement.’
Furthermore, students have linked the petition to a 2016 video. In it, Pagila says she finds it ‘ridiculous’ that universities ‘tolerate’ historic accusations of rape.
President panned for ‘freedom of expression’ plea
However, after college president David Yager emailed students and staff, students slammed him.
In the statement, Yager defended Pagila. He spoke of how ‘artists over the centuries have suffered censorship, and even persecution, for the expression of their beliefs through their work.’
“Unfortunately, as a society we are living in a time of sharp divisions – of opinions, perspectives and beliefs – and that has led to decreased civility.’
Speaking to Inside Higher Ed, Pagila praised Yager’s ‘eloquent statement affirming academic freedom as a landmark in contemporary education.’