Tits, Tarts, Teaching Assistants–and Latvians


A few years ago an assistant professor in the School of Management at LaSalle University, Jack Rapport got in trouble for inviting a stripper to his class on the application of Platonic and Hegelian ethics. There was a stink raised, of course, although Rappaport kept his job. He is now the oldest assistant professor on record, however.

Professor Rappaport’s continuing studies class was, up until now, something of a one-off, I thought. As is rarely the case, I was wrong. Now comes a full professor from the University of Colorado at Boulder who may or may not be pressured into early retirement because of morality playlets she has used for twenty years in her crowd-pleasing (500+ students!) course “Deviance in US Society.” Professor Patricia (“Patti” to her students) Adler recruits from her teaching assistants a nubile subset of young men and women who assume the attire and identities of various kinds of prostitutes–escort-service workers, “brothel whores,” “bar whores,” streetwalkers, “crack whores,” and “slave whores”–and answer questions from the students about their rates, back stories, clients, specialties, and so on.

Professor Adler provides costumes and an instruction booklet for her TAs.

Professor Adler provides costumes and an instruction booklet for her TAs.

Students on RateMyProfessor have highlighted the fauxsitutes presentation in their evaluation of Adler’s teaching:

Fun teacher. There is so much information packed into the course it became too much at times. I wish it slowed down and that Patti would explain things better. I really enjoyed the class though and the different types of prostitutes class down [sic] by the T.A.’s was hot. (2011)

SUCH an interesting class! All we talk about is prostitutes and drugs. Patti is a great teacher- she’s very funny and relatable. As long as you read and go to lecture, you will pass. Take Kathryn as your TA- she is so passionate and informative. (2012)

Patti is not a nutty professor. She is a serious scholar and author or co-author of important research on the hedonism within the criminal community. She has taught on and off at Colorado since 1987, and is tenured at the university. Some of her students over at RateMyProfessor think she is a hard grader, who demands a lot of memorization of facts but not concepts, and more than a few are ticked off that she requires her (500+ per class, remember) students to purchase the latest editions of her books, which she updates with astonishing frequency, so that any past edition of her text has little value on the used-textbook market.

All that aside, for most of her career Adler has packed students into a gigantic lecture hall, juggled her teaching responsibilities with her scholarly output, and by all accounts has been very well regarded by her fellow sociologists.

I might think, and you might think, that having TA’s parade around in hot pants and platform stilletos is a bit outrĂ©, but it is no easy job to keep a stadium full of college students engaged for 50 minutes three times a week. In any case Adler’s showboating pales in comparison to that of one Professor John Michael Bailey, who commissioned a live sex act for his human sexuality course at the Northwestern University.

Nevertheless, after twenty years of the same-old, same-old, Patti’s playacting prostitutes ran afoul of the administration, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education:

The skit was performed this fall largely as it had been in past semesters, but the audience was slightly different in that it included representatives of the university’s Office of Discrimination and Harassment.

In a December 10 memorandum to Ms. Adler, Llen Pomeroy, that office’s manager, pointed out three aspects of the performance that were later discussed with Ms. Adler as problematic: a student playing the role of a straight male streetwalker repeatedly used the term “faggot,” a student playing a pimp made joking references to how he beats women, and a student portrayed a Latvian “slave whore” in a manner that might have offended students from that nation or other parts of Eastern Europe.

The letter from Ms. Pomeroy acknowledged that her office had not formally investigated the performance because no one had formally complained about it, and that “this is the first time concerns have been raised to our office about your class or the prostitution skit.”

It was after Adler received this peculiar missive that the skit hit the fan. She made a dramatic announcement to her class that she was being forced into early retirement, because–according to Adler–her hare-brained dean witlessly suggested that

there was “too much risk” in having such a lecture in the “post-Penn State environment,” alluding to the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Adler said that she was given the choice of accepting a buyout now, or staying but not teaching the course, and not giving the prostitution lecture, and to be aware that she could be fired and lose her retirement benefits if anyone complained about her teaching in the future.

Shortly thereafter, the predictable sandbox fight broke out, with Adler screeching that she tried to retire early a year ago, but was turned down, then changed her tune and said she wanted to keep working because she needed health insurance, then said she wanted to keep teaching because it was her right, then pointed the finger of blame at her department chair who apparently has it in for Adler. On the other team, Dean Leigh called in the playground monitor–the Provost–who issued a statement, and a hapless communications officer scrambled to clarify that he didn’t really mean what he said about maybe the institutional review board should give a pass/fail once-over to Adler’s course. Just another day on campus.

Even though I abhor Adler’s run-to-the-press tactic and her emoting in front of students, unless there is a lot more to this story (and there always is), I think what happened to Professor Adler is unconscionable. The unprovoked attack on her teaching method has “risk manager” written all over it, and the fingerprints of a discrimination officer with too much time on her hands.

Risk managers are employed on most US campuses. They have the unenviable task of dreaming up scenarios for which the college could get in trouble, and putting a stop to these imaginary events before they happen. Note that no one complained about the skit–but someday, someone might, so we’d better shut it down for the good of the university. Twenty years of past practice means nothing.

It is refreshing, in a way, to see a discrimination officer stand up for the rights of Latvian students. For inexplicable reasons, this minority is often overlooked within the discrimination-harassment community.

According to the US Department of State, approximately eight Latvian students and scholars travel to the United States each year.

Latvian students in their native dress can be victims of unspeakable discrimination.

Latvian students in their native dress can be victims of unspeakable discrimination.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on a University of Colorado campus:

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

6 thoughts on “Tits, Tarts, Teaching Assistants–and Latvians

  1. Pingback: University Diversity Flunkie Runs Phone Porn Op From Her Office | freedomisfabulous – from freefabulousgirl

  2. Life has truly dealt a cruel blow to Patti. She and her U. of C. tenured professor husband are gamely putting up a brave front from their vacation home in Maui. The three years salary and full retirement benefits are cold comfort when compared to the tragic loss of such a fun class.

  3. Some random comments on this interesting article:
    1. It was Northwestern University (my Alma Mater) that had the sex worker demonstration, not the University of Chicago
    2. I went to high school with 2 Latvian brothers. They were both on the wrestling team and they would most likely be pimps and not sex workers.
    3. I am stunned that 500 students would waste their class time on this stuff. When I was in college we studied “Deviance in US Society” by going to the fringe of downtown Chicago and checking out the last of the Burlesque houses on our own time. I used class time to study English Lit under Bergan Evans. Very rewarding.

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