Culture

Prof Claims He Was Punished for ‘Sexual Misconduct’ for Singing a Beach Boys Song

(Campus photo via Twitter; portrait via uky.edu)
More Title IX madness

A professor at the University of Kentucky is claiming that he was punished for “sexual misconduct” for reasons including the fact that he sang a Beach Boys song during one of his classes. 

In a piece for the Lexington Herald Leader, Buck Ryan claims that he sang a version of the song during the closing ceremonies for a “Storytelling: Exploring China’s Art and Culture” class that he taught as part of a UK-sponsored Education Week program at a Chinese university. 

He said he used the song to teach the differences between Chinese and American culture, replacing some of the names of the original American places in the song with Chinese ones, for example: “Well Shanghai girls are hip; I really dig those styles they wear.”

Ryan claims that even though a three-month investigation revealed absolutely no student complaints — and many of the students who attended the ceremony had told him that they liked his song — the school still decided to punish him for “sexual misconduct” by “ban[ning him from] receiving international travel funds and [stripping him] of a prestigious award worth thousands of dollars” because the song included “language of a sexual nature.” 

Yes, a song that has been (as Ryan pointed out) covered by Alvin and the Chipmunks was apparently too “sexual” for his class full of adult students and therefore amounted to a Title IX violation.

Ryan said that he was “convicted without trial” over both the song and “inappropriate behavior . . . with two women students.” The “inappropriate behavior,” which Ryan claims “never occurred,” was not reported by the students themselves but rather by other UK faculty, and the students had, according to Ryan, “wanted to defend” him but “were never interviewed by university officials.” (Note: There was never an allegation of a “sexual” relationship between Ryan and another student, simply of an “inappropriate” one for reasons including a student’s being spotted wearing one of his sweatshirts, and the fact that he and a student had been in a suite together — which Ryan claimed he figured was okay because he was “helping the student with her English” and “there were always students coming in and out of the suite.) 

According to Ryan, the dean never actually spoke to him about the incident, either, and he found out about his punishment “in a letter dropped on me by two assistants just before [he] was to teach a class.” When he inquired further, he claims, the provost told him the following: 

“There is no constitutional right to represent the University of Kentucky abroad. Nor is there a constitutional right to teach a particular class. Accordingly, the University has no obligation to provide you with due process.” The craziest thing about all of this is the allegation that the song amounts to a violation of Title IX, which states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 

#related#Any reasonable person would read that and have a hard time believing it was written with protecting people from Beach Boys songs in mind, but unfortunately, I can’t say I’m all that surprised. Since President Obama’s administration has expanded the definitions of what falls under Title IX, we’ve seen a student get expelled for calling his ex a “psycho” on Twitter, a fraternity be accused of “sexual harassment” over a dancing Teletubby, resident assistants suggesting that making jokes about Harambe might be considered Title IX violations, and much more. It’s pretty ridiculous — and ridiculous becomes scary when you consider that universities’ compliance with these Title IX regulations is linked to the federal funding they receive — giving colleges a real financial incentive to, if there’s any question, punish a professor over a song rather than to look into what really happened.

– Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review.

 

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