Updated: 05/12/03 | 3 p.m.
Report and Recommendations
Concerning State Senator Susan Wagle's April 6 Complaint Against Professor Dennis Dailey
Media contact: Lynn Bretz, Office of University Relations, (785) 864-8866, or Todd Cohen, University Relations, (785) 864-8858.
Please see links to press releases, related materials and supporting documents at left
NOTE: Given the nature of the allegations, some of the content in the report is explicit in nature and is not intended for minors.
May 9, 2003
To: Chancellor Robert Hemenway
From: Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor David Shulenburger
Re: Report and Recommendations Concerning State Senator Susan Wagle's April 6 Complaint Against Professor Dennis Dailey
In accordance with the Kansas Board of Regents External Grievance Procedure, I have evaluated Sen. Wagle's allegations concerning proscribed conduct by Professor Dennis Dailey. In the course of carrying out this charge, I:
asked Prof. Dailey to respond to me concerning Sen. Wagle's allegations;
examined documents related to the class and Prof. Dailey's qualifications to teach it;
examined the text book;
read reams of material generated by KU faculty members, KU students who have taken the class in recent years or currently, and alumni who have taken the class in earlier years;
examined Prof. Dailey's student evaluations; and,
with selected colleagues, watched all but one of the videos and slides that are listed in the syllabus.
Finally, I visited for more than one and one-half hours on April 24, 2003 with a current student who said she was offended by the class.
I have concluded that the preponderance of evidence does not support Sen. Wagle's allegations, particularly those alleging that his classes are obscene or contain obscenity or that students in the class experience sexual harassment. That is, I find that the materials Prof. Dailey uses in his class and his teaching methods are not obscene but rather are very similar to those used in other major universities. It is my finding that the complaint does not have merit.
On the basis of the evidence provided to me, I did not find occurrences of sexual harassment. If there are claims regarding sexual harassment, they should be provided to the University's Office of Equal Opportunity for investigation and resolution.
In the full text of the report I deal with Sen. Wagle's allegations point by point and review the relevant evidence.
Charge from the Chancellor
In accordance with the Kansas Board of Regents External Grievance Procedure, Chancellor Hemenway designated me, as chief academic officer of the University of Kansas, to evaluate Sen. Wagle's allegations concerning proscribed conduct by Professor Dennis Dailey. Sen. Wagle's letter of 6 April 2003 is attached to this report (No. 1). Under Board policy, it is my charge to investigate the merits of this complaint, and to "resolve it through administrative channels if possible."
Compilation of Relevant Evidence
In the course of carrying out this charge, I have asked Prof. Dailey to respond to me concerning Sen. Wagle's allegations and his entire response is attached to this report (No. 2); I have examined documents related to the class and Prof. Dailey's qualifications to teach it; I have examined the text book; I have read reams of material generated by KU faculty members, KU students who have taken the class in recent years or currently, and alumni who have taken the class in earlier years, and have examined Prof. Dailey's student evaluations, which I will discuss later. Selected colleagues and I watched all but one of the video and slides that are listed in the syllabus. Finally, I visited for more than one and one-half hours on 24 April 2003 with a current student who said she was offended by the class. She told me that other offended students might be willing to speak with me, and I encouraged her to have them do so. No one has come forward. Sen. Wagle's intern in Prof. Dailey's class told me that she had signed affidavits from other students. When I asked to see them, she indicated they were in Sen. Wagle's possession. I asked Sen. Wagle to see them. I tried several times to reach her, but have been unable to do so. My letter to her requesting the affidavits is attached (No. 3).
Summary of Findings
I have taken this assignment very seriously; I am well aware of the damage the University of Kansas has suffered already as a result of the storm of publicity resulting from these public allegations, and the continuing controversy that is swirling about the entire institution concerning this class. The University is opposed to any sort of sexual harassment or obscenity. After going through the investigations and consultations I described, I have concluded that the preponderance of evidence does not support Sen. Wagle's allegations, particularly those alleging Prof. Dailey's classes are obscene or contain obscenity or that students in the class experience sexual harassment. That is, I find that Prof. Dailey's materials and his teaching methods are not obscene. I find that Sen. Wagle's complaint does not have merit. If there are allegations regarding sexual harassment, they should be provided to the University's Office of Equal Opportunity for investigation and resolution.
Expectations of Faculty Conduct
The course, Social Welfare 303, has been approved by the faculty of the School of Social Welfare and has been offered by Prof. Dailey for 24 years. The Faculty Code of Rights and Responsibilities in the " University Handbook for Faculty and Other Unclassified Staff" addresses expectations of faculty in the classroom. Expectations of faculty conduct are high and sanctions up to and including dismissal are available to discipline faculty members who abuse their positions of authority. I have appended the appropriate section of the 'Handbook" to this report (No. 4).
The University of Kansas also prohibits sexual harassment as a violation of professional ethics, federal and state law and as an offense that may constitute moral turpitude. The policy prohibiting sexual harassment is also appended to this report (No. 5).
Student Evaluations of Social Welfare 303
"Human Sexuality in Everyday Life" is one of the more popular elective classes in the University; 3,355 students have taken the class in the last five years. In all that time, and from all of those students, neither the office of the chief academic officer, the Dean of Social Welfare, nor the Office of Equal Opportunity (the proper conduit for charges of sexual harassment), has received even one formal complaint about the content of the materials covered, until the complaint from one student this year. This lack of any formal complaint concerning content or sexual harassment is consistent with the many comments by former students about the great value of the class to them, both at the time they were students and in their later lives.
I have examined Prof. Dailey's numerical scores from student evaluations from the past five years, and have read all of the 172 comment sheets turned in on May 7, 2003 for this semester's class. As you know, we ask that a student pick up evaluations and comment sheets and deliver them directly to the Dean's office. Instructors do not see the evaluations until after final grades are submitted to the Registrar. This procedure was followed in this instance, as is required of instructors throughout the University.
Prof. Dailey's numerical scores for the semesters 1998-2002 are remarkable. On a scale where 5 represents excellence, his mean scores have never been below 4.74. In response to the question, "did [the instructor] show respect for students?" three students rated his performance as "poor;" 1,368 rated his performance as "excellent." In response to the inquiry, "was the course effective?" four students said it was " poor;" 1,250 said it was "excellent." These responses represent five semesters.
From this semester's comment sheets, I picked a few from students whose positive comments were representative of the total. One especially interesting comment may be illustrative of how the course achieves its aims: "I'm ___ years old, and did not know (this is humbling) where the clitoris was located until this class (the day with the 'pornographic' pictures)." [The student who wrote this comment is an older student. I removed the exact age to protect the student's identity.]
There was one negative comment sheet, which I have included in its entirety, and another that contained some criticism and some praise, which is also included in its entirety. The one negative comment sheet alleges that the course constituted sexual harassment of students. I find no evidence to support such a charge. This matter should be filed formally with the Office of Equal Opportunity if the student wishes to pursue it. The teaching scores and comment sheets are appended (No. 6).
Religious Community Endorsement of the Class
The esteem in which this class is held by many in the Lawrence community is demonstrated by the fact that the following religious organizations have sponsored the class for a wider audience than the student body: Canterbury House (Episcopal), Hillel Foundation (Jewish), Lutheran Campus Ministry, United Methodist Campus Ministry, ECM (Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Church of the Brethren, and Religious Society of Friends), First Presbyterian College Ministry, and St. John's Independent Catholic Church. The following is excerpted from a letter that Pastor Thad Holcombe of Ecumenical Christian Ministries sent to Dean Weick explaining why these religious groups cooperated in sponsoring the class:
As you may know, Human Sexuality In Everyday Life is offered as a non-credit course though the Sexuality Education Committee (S.E.C.) at KU. This registered student organization is supported by the following campus ministries: Ecumenical Christian Ministries, Canterbury House, Lutheran Campus Ministry (ELCA), United Methodist Campus Ministry, Hillel Foundation, First Presbyterian College Ministry, and St. John the Baptist's Independent Catholic. The course itself takes place at the Ecumenical Christian Ministries center. It is a ten-week course, meeting two hours every week.
Human Sexuality In Everyday Life (HSEL) has been offered for at least five years. Professor Dailey has also offered a workshop "Intimacy for Committed Couples." Again, we along with the other campus ministries have sponsored this opportunity for students and others.
Approximately 400 participants have enrolled in these offerings. We are very careful to ask that written evaluations be completed by participants. Over the years, the evaluations rate the class and workshop as very positive, with very few exceptions.
I personally attended every session of HSEL for two consecutive years. I still sit in on the presentations, as do other campus ministers. My daughter has attended some of the sessions and I recommend both offerings to couples that I am working with in pre-marital counseling.
Why do ECM and other campus ministries sponsor HSEL? The enclosed statement answers this question. This statement is shared with those enrolling in HSEL. [This statement is appended to the report as No. 7]
At the first session, it is read and commented on by the campus ministry staff in attendance. I think the statement adequately describes what transpires in the class. It may also be helpful to know that Professor Dailey is an active member of First United Methodist Church in Lawrence. During the time with us he has always been available to counsel with any person taking the non-credit course and has referred some to me regarding religious concerns.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to speak with me on any other staff of the campus ministries who sponsor HSEL and the Intimacy for Committed Couples workshop."
Sen. Wagle's Complaint
I do not intend to minimize the concern expressed by any individual student, or to suggest that one person's perceptions are less valid than another's. What is clear to me is that the issues Sen. Wagle raised and the one student brought to me are matters of perception, and not issues that lend themselves to being resolved administratively -- or perhaps any other way.
Sen. Wagle made specific allegations against Professor Dailey, and I will attempt to respond briefly to each. In some cases I have included comments from students, whom I have identified by name and whose comments were unsolicited. In some cases, these comments also went directly to Sen. Wagle. All students whose names are cited in this text have given their permission to be identified.
Charge #1: Obscene Gesture
Sen. Wagle alleged that Prof. Dailey gave a student the finger when she walked out of the room on the first day of class. Prof. Dailey has no recall of this incident, and other students in the class this semester have said this incident never happened. "The female student did not walk out of class until [sic] was about to show the first in his explicit sexual materials, a 1970 hilarious video of a toy pair of animated frogs. Never did he belittle her or give her the finger." (Paul Van Cleave) "The student got up to leave. Dr. Dailey asked if something was wrong. The student said she was not enrolled in the course and had another class to go to. She absolutely did not say she was going to drop the class, as Sen. Wagle listed in her complaint. Dr. Dailey then continued on with his lecture. No fingers were raised." (Kate Borniger) "First, the student who reported that Dr. Dailey gave a student 'the finger' when she was leaving the classroom, this is not true at all. He was making another point completely when the student got up to leave, the exchange of words was mere friendly banter there was not belittling and he most certainly did not give her 'the finger'." (Alison Vavra)
Charge #2: Street Language
Sen. Wagle alleged that "street" language and obscene gestures are a regular part of the class. Prof. Dailey devotes at least one class session to the languages of sexuality, which are defined and described. The languages are childhood, common discourse, scientific and street. During the class he uses all of them. He does not use "street" language exclusively or regularly. Many students commented about the appropriateness of his use of street language in the context of the class. "If you are saying words we understand, often slang words that some might deem offensive, we will understand better and feel more open towards discussion. These words are only dirty if you make them dirty. People that are offended by his language must be living inside of a bubble; these are everyday words that all educated people should know ... even if they are 'profanities'." (Emily Tamblyn)
The following message was from Kathy Underwood, the parent of a student in Prof. Dailey's class this semester (this message was to Sen. Wagle): "I am open-minded enough to know a university can never please everyone all the time. I am neither a liberal or conservative, but I am indeed a realist. My daughter and I talk regularly about Prof. Dailey's class and while I may not always agree with the subject matter or his presentation, I am not so naive as to think this is something my daughter should avoid. In fact, I believe quite the opposite. The world is 'real' and sometimes 'shocking' and our young adults need exposure to real facts ... I am absolutely convinced my daughter has grown and benefited from this class."
If Sen. Wagle's allegation of "inappropriate hugging" is intended to imply an improper relationship between Prof. Dailey and Teresa Scalise, Prof. Dailey strongly refutes that any such relationship exists. Student Paul Van Cleave said, "Dr. Dailey did introduce the class to our Teaching Assistant, but with no inappropriate hugging."
Charge #3: Attraction Template
Prof. Dailey has said that he has an "attraction template" as does everyone else, and that there were several people in the class who fell into it, and that others in the class likely experienced similar attractions. Other students described this context as useful in understanding why some relationships succeed while others fail. "Senator Wagle's intern has complained of Dr. Dailey making reference to being attracted to 'several of you in right in the front rows.' I know exactly what she was talking about, as he said the very same thing in the class I took ... His point? To help us realize that we all, as humans, have natural attractions to certain types of individuals. In other words, we all have normal healthy sexual attractions to individuals within our 'attraction template' as he puts it. This was his driving point. It sounds as though the intern missed this point, and went on to infer that he was being 'inappropriate'." (Jerri Courson, MSW)
Charge #4: Credentials
Prof. Dailey denies Sen. Wagle's allegation that he "professes to be a world re-known [sic] sexual therapist." As you know, Prof. Dailey is a certified Sex Educator and Sex Therapist in the American Association of Sex Educators, Therapists and Counselors, and a Clinical Fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists. He has served for almost 20 years as an Adjunct Clinical Professor at the Menninger Clinic. He has done extensive consultation and training for workers who deal with sexual abuse cases and is a clinical consultant to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Leavenworth. Prof. Dailey says that he is available to students should they have concerns that relate to their being in the class, including sexual concerns and problems. He does not do psychotherapy/counseling with students, but has referred them to available resources within the University and outside when he believed it necessary.
Charge #5: Audio-Visual Materials and Textbook
During the class devoted to female anatomy, Dailey indicated that members of the class might see genitals like their own because they would see a wide variety. He made numerous comments while presenting the slides, with the intent of affirming that what students were seeing was normal and healthy. He referred to one as an "apparition," not an "aberration," as alleged by Sen. Wagle, in an attempt at humor and to relieve any stress the students might be experiencing. Prof. Dailey indicates that he has never had any complaints until this semester. There was nothing shown in the class that would fit Sen. Wagle's allegation of child pornography. There is a vast difference between material that is exploitive of children and material that is used in a classroom setting to illustrate the sexual maturation process over time. Materials used by an instructor as part of an approved course or program of instruction at a public, private or parochial school, college or university are not "obscene" under Kansas statute (KSA 21-4301). Students whose comments I have received agree. "I was uncomfortable with a lot of the topics that Human Sexuality in Everyday Life tackles, including masturbation and homosexuality. Dennis Dailey approaches each topic in a matter-of-fact way and presents the topics with a sense of humor that cuts through the obvious tension that is brought into these topics. Before the videos, Dr. Dailey warns the class about the material and reminds all of us that it is optional and we are free to leave. Then he talks about the background of the video: who the people are, what their relationship with their partner is like, etc. These videos are not pornographic. Pornography is made in order to turn a profit and includes unrealistic storylines ... these videos have made me more accepting of those who are different from myself and [who] choose different lifestyles than my own." (Allison Moore)
As part of my review, along with Senior Vice Provost and Professor of Psychology Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett, Professor of Psychology Charlene Muehlenhard and Carol Prentice, Assistant to the Provost, I viewed all but one of the classroom tapes, films and slides used in Social Welfare 303. All of the material we viewed was prepared by educational agencies and intended for the classroom. The missing tape was a childbirth film, which had been lent out. Prof. Dailey described it as an often-used film depicting several childbirth experiences, including standard hospital deliveries, at home deliveries, birthing centers, etc.
Viewing the Audio-Visual Materials
The viewing took about three hours. There was an air of artificiality about the exercise as we watched three hours of audiovisuals continuously, with only the syllabus of the course as a context. The matrix of the forty-plus hours of lectures and class discussions in which the films are usually viewed would have provided a much more realistic context for the viewing.
The first two films scheduled early in the semester are animations of toy toads engaging in sexual acts. The films are undoubtedly intended to introduce students to the subject matter of the course in a humorous manner, get them relaxed and make real to them the syllabus' warning that explicit audio-visual materials will be used in the course. The films represent an early warning that "Students do need to pause and assess their own readiness to take this course . . ."
The next film was one in which two young children are introduced to the parts of the anatomy by the device of having a grandmotherly-looking woman read to them from a storybook. The ending is the adult's gentle cautioning to the young girl to report to her parents or teachers anyone who asks to or who touches her private parts.
Next the students are shown two trays of slides on the female and male anatomy. Both physiological illustrations and photographs of female and male sexual organs are shown. The slides include a couple of slides that appear to represent the sexual organs of prepubescent females and are included to show the various physical developmental stages. All of the slides are clinical in nature and are the types of slides I would imagine are used in health care training.
Two six-minute videos, one of a male masturbating and the other of a female masturbating are shown. Neither film has a soundtrack with commentary.
Two films depicting homosexual sex are shown, one involving two males and the other, two females. Again, neither film has soundtrack with commentary.
Two films featuring a very low-key clinical therapist are shown. In one, the therapist describes the importance of having the sex act be loving and caring and illustrates his advice with heterosexual couples involved in caring sex acts and in less caring sex acts. The second film deals with sexual problems such as male impotence and provides advice to couples on avoiding those problems or sensitively dealing with the problems when they exist. Again, heterosexual couples illustrate the problems and means of coping with them.
One film depicts a wheelchair-bound male who has an intimate sexual encounter with a female. No soundtrack with commentary accompanies the film. The film illustrates the potential for disabled individuals to have a healthy sex life.
The final film of the semester is a puppet depiction of a vulva, representing a woman, and a penis, representing a man, and their first sexual encounter. The film illustrates the need for sensitivity by both partners in a first sexual encounter, the need to practice safe sex and the methods of practicing safe sex.
Assessment of Audio-Visual Materials
The films and slides are explicit as promised by the syllabus. We found them to be straightforward depictions of various sex acts. There was no pedophilia or advocacy in the films for pedophilia. There was no exploitation in the films. There was no masochism, sadomasochism or bestiality in the films. There were many depictions of couples in apparently caring relationships having sex. There was much information that would be useful to a young person about engaging in a caring relationship. There was information about safe sex.
All four of us found the films and slides to be appropriate for showing in an elective course entitled "Human Sexuality in Everyday Life." We found particularly appropriate the syllabus warning that students needed to assess their readiness to take the course and the fact that "viewing explicit A-V materials will be optional." In this context, the graphic depictions that we saw were appropriate.
I note that all of the films that we saw were quite old, most of them apparently having been produced in the 1960s or 1970s.
External Opinion re: Audio-Visual Materials
Professor Charlene Muehlenhard consulted with Dr. Janet Shibley Hyde following the viewing. Dr. Hyde is the Helen Thompson Woolley Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the first author of a widely used human sexuality text, Understanding Human Sexuality, which is currently in its 8th edition. She also wrote a widely used psychology of women textbook, Half the Human Experience: The Psychology of Women, currently in its 6th edition. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) and past president of the SSSS. She has received over $5 million in grants. I include part of Dr. Hyde's response to questions below. The entire message is appended to this report (No. 8).
In Human Sexuality classes, is it standard to show videos of people engaging in sex?
Dr. Hyde: Yes, this is quite a common practice. I personally have done this in my undergraduate courses in human sexuality every time that I have offered them beginning in 1975. It is important to clarify that these videos are not "porn." That is, they are not materials designed to elicit lust; rather, their goal is educational and they were produced for educational use. I have never received complaints about their use in either of the states in which I have taught (Ohio and Wisconsin), from students, parents, or administrators. Students find them very educational.
What (if any) is the value of showing such videos?
Dr. Hyde: As I explain to my students, I have two goals in showing these videos. One is desensitization. That is, many adult Americans experience excessive levels of anxiety about sexuality. This anxiety can in turn lead to disastrous consequences such as creating sexual dysfunctions that destroy marriages, or creating strong irrationality in personal decision-making. Desensitization is a technique derived from behavior therapy in psychology, which aims to reduce excessive levels of anxiety. The second goal is informational. Many students taking these courses have little or no knowledge about sexual techniques. This lack of knowledge can be another serious factor creating sexual dysfunctions within marriage. These videos can convey much practical information.
Dr. Hyde's response is very similar to that of Dr. William Stayton, whose letter concerning his own teaching of human sexuality classes is also appended (No. 9). "The use of explicit films in university and graduate education has been standard for the past 30 years. The films must be used in the context of a course that frames the material for the person looking at the films. The films should never been seen out of context, as the viewer will never understand the benefit of using explicit films in a course. They are always used with a discussion about and sharing of feelings, facts, misinformation, and concerns. Never are the films simply shown without guidance and prepared discussion leaders." Dr. Stayton, who currently teaches at Widener University, holds a doctorate and a master of divinity degree
In addition to these external experts, Professor Muehlenhard prepared her own evaluation of the A-V materials from the class we had viewed. Her letter is appended to this report (No. 10). She noted that, "Many students who take this human sexuality course will use the information in their future professional careers as social workers, counselors, health care workers, and so forth. This is the only human sexuality course that most of these students will take. Thus, this class and these materials are valuable in several ways. They help provide students with knowledge related to sexuality. They also help students become comfortable with human sexuality, which is crucial so that they do not become flustered and tongue tied when they encounter clients who need to talk about sexual issues. Seeing these videos and slides can help students become more comfortable with thinking about sexual issues."
I find the sort of video materials Prof. Dailey uses in SW 303 to be "industry standard" in terms of human sexuality classes.
Assessment of Textbook
The textbook used by Professor Dailey is Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America, 4th Edition by Bryan Strong, Christine DeVault, Barbara Sayad and William Yarber (McGraw Hill, 2002). This textbook is by a major national publishing house and is widely adopted and long in use as witnessed by this being the fourth edition. The text is somewhat encyclopedic in nature and its authors pride themselves on basing the text in the research findings of the field. When topics like child sexual abuse are dealt with the authors put them into a value-based perspective. For example, on child sexual abuse they say "Because of the child's age, he or she cannot give informed consent; the activity can only be considered as self-serving to the adult" (p. 583). This mainstream book is clearly appropriate for a college-level elective credit course.
Advocacy of Pedophilia Denied
Although not included in her external grievance allegations, recent press reports have carried allegations from Sen. Wagle that Professor Dailey advocates pedophilia in his course. Professor Daily categorically denies that he advocates pedophilia in his class or in any manner conveys to students that this criminal activity represents an acceptable behavior. No evidence has come to my attention that supports such a charge. There is the allegation that he showed slides of the genitals of girls. As noted above, four of us viewed those slides and found them to be clinical in nature and directly related to the educational purpose of illustrating developmental differences. Their use in his class clearly does not support a charge that Professor Daily advocates pedophilia. The textbook he uses is also clear that sexual relationships with children are harmful.
Former student Jerri Courson wrote addressing this allegation. "Senator Wagle and her intern expressed outrage that Dr. Dailey was 'supporting pedophiles.' I can tell you without a doubt that this is a misinterpretation. I remember vividly that he talked about the issue of pedophilia, theories about its origin, and helped us to have the courage to understand it. He taught us to have compassion in a way that would allow us to work with these individuals -- as he stressed that we would most definitely have contact with them at some point in our careers. I remember him saying, 'If you think you'll never work with a pedophile, think again. If you work in this field [social work], it will happen and you need to be prepared.' He was absolutely right. It was helpful because I have had the tough task of dealing with several pedophiles over the years . . ."
Charge #6: "Dailey Spot" Remark
Professor Dailey denies the allegation that he said his goal was to find the "Dailey spot" on women. He did say that finding a new spot would make him "famous" but he thought all of the spots had been found. Most students who heard this remark found it humorous. "Dr. Dailey ... went on to say that if that had happened he would have been retired long before now and collecting royalties on his books." (Paul Van Cleave)
Charge #7: Female Anatomy "Homework"
Regarding female anatomy "homework," Professor Dailey showed female anatomy slides and told students that he wanted them to explore their own genital anatomy. He maintains that because of body image issues, particularly with women, the suggestion that they do this "homework" is very important. Prof. Dailey indicates that previous responses always have been positive. I can affirm this view as I have read several letters from students who took the class in earlier semesters. Jerri Courson wrote: " ... the intern expressed distaste for Dr. Dailey encouraging his students to become familiar with their bodies and to explore their own bodies. I think this is essential, not only for our own sexuality, but for basic health reasons ... I worked with a patient a few years ago who could not even give herself a breast exam because it embarrassed her terribly ... She had been taught early on as a child that you do not, under any circumstances, touch your own body parts and that this act was seen by God as a sin ... I was able to be sensitive to this and work with her on the matter. She was gradually able to allow at least a doctor to perform a breast examination. She was over 50 years old and had never had one."
Charge #8: Classroom Humor
In response to the allegation that, if he were Chancellor, he would require evidence from female graduates that they were orgasmic, Prof. Dailey reports that he said in jest that he would lobby for orgasm as a graduation requirement so that so many women would not leave college and enter relationships with the burden of seeing themselves as flawed or inadequate. It is clear that Prof. Dailey's sense of humor is not to everyone's taste, but many of the students who wrote to support him mentioned his humor on issues to be a strength.
Charge #9: Masturbation Remark
Prof. Dailey did show a film of female and male masturbation. He did make a comment that sexual arousal on a full bladder can be uncomfortable, but not necessarily problematic because of the reflexive action at the neck of the bladder that shuts off the potential flow of urine (a follow-up to material from the physiology and anatomy lecture a week earlier). Kelly Graf, a student who sits in the second row of SW 303 this semester, wrote that the girl who left to go to the bathroom, "seemed to be enjoying the banter with Dr. Dailey and wanted to make sure he knew that she would be coming back to the class and that she was not upset by the material which was shown." The unfortunate linking of the banter with the student who left to go to the bathroom and Dailey's statement during his lecture about sexual arousal on a full bladder appears not to be an accusation on his part that the student was leaving the room in order to masturbate. Dailey did elicit information regarding masturbation habits as an optional exercise to allow an opportunity for students to realize that their own habits were not aberrant. After seeing student responses, he did say, "you horny little devils you," a remark that was intended to be humorous, and was so regarded by most members of the class.
These are Prof. Dailey's responses to Sen. Wagle's allegations, as corroborated by a number of unsolicited student letters and e-mail messages. Perhaps Prof. Dailey has not remembered exactly what he said during each incident she brought up. Perhaps the student who complained and who came to see me has not remembered accurately or has misinterpreted remarks that had a very different effect on other students in the class-- 475 others this semester. It will not be possible to resolve with surgical precision every item Sen. Wagle brought forward.
Conclusion: "No Cause of Action" Against Dailey
I look for analogies. Could a survey course on world religions be conducted without offending the student who held the unshakeable belief that her personal religion was the only valid one -- that to consider any others constituted an apostasy? Probably not.
Should the religious studies professor try to shape his presentation of material to make this particular student comfortable? Absolutely not. A student who is offended by different views or different ways of looking at issues, should not expect the content of a class to be tailored to the comfort of his or her long-held beliefs. Nor should students subject themselves to situations that make them uncomfortable -- if such can be avoided -- and if they do not want their value systems challenged. One of the purposes of higher education is to make students think about what they believe. Not to destroy what they believe, but to enable them to question why they think as they do, and either to persist in that way of thinking, having examined alternatives and found them wanting, or to believe differently, having examined alternatives and found them more rational and worthy than previously held beliefs. Education may engender change.
But none of Professor Dailey's students has been forced to even consider change or to be made uncomfortable in any way. As mentioned earlier, the class is an elective. No degree program requires it for graduation. If students do wish to take the course -- and so many do that the class usually has a waiting list -- no one is required to watch the films that are shown as part of the class. The syllabus states very clearly that some material will be graphic and viewing is not required:
Sen. Wagle has received a copy of the syllabus as part of her Open Records Request, so she is well aware that this class is not mandatory and that none of the graphic materials is mandatory viewing for students who do opt to take the class.
"Because this is a large class, the format will include a good deal of lecture, some use of value clarification exercises and class discussion, and the use of explicit and non-explicit audio-visual materials (viewing explicit A-V materials will be optional). Students do need to pause and assess their own readiness to take this course as a part of their intentions to grow, even though some others may be opposed to their participation or be overly encouraging."
Given the optional nature of the class, and the rather stark fact that since 1979, when the course was first offered, only one student, the student who told me she worked with Sen. Wagle to formulate the senator's complaint, has voiced a concern to this office (and no student has expressed a concern to the Office of Equal Opportunity), I find no cause of action on behalf of the University against Prof. Dailey. The student with whom I visited told me that, "the content of the class is generally appropriate." Her concerns were about delivery, remarks she viewed as extraneous, and the nature of the videos. If she believes she has been harassed sexually by the class experience, the proper avenue is for her to make her complaint to the Office of Equal Opportunity, the unit on campus that handles issues of sexual harassment.
John Buchan, the Scottish author and statesman, in a Harvard alumni bulletin suggested that a liberal education should endow recipients with three qualities: humility, humanity and humor. Humility, because "if we are educated men, with the treasures of the world's thought behind us, we shall not be inclined to overvalue ourselves or to claim too much for the work of our hands." Humanity, because "We need a deepened respect for human nature. There can be no such respect in those who would obliterate the personality and make beings mere featureless details in the monstrous mechanism of the state." And humor: "In a time like the present (he was writing in 1938), when the ties of religion have been sadly relaxed, there is a tendency for popular leaders to exalt themselves in a kind of bogus deity and to think their shallow creeds a divine revelation. The answer to all that sort of folly is laughter."
The issues with which Professor Dailey deals in SW 303 are important ones. If he uses humor or even shock tactics to enable students to examine their prejudices or face their fears, some may find his strategies offensive. Others, thousands of others, have found the class enlightening, liberating and invaluable in their subsequent careers and adult lives. He has given students the option of exploring the issues in his class, or not. The choice is theirs.
I have compiled and reviewed a record, which reflects as accurately as possible what is taught and presented in Prof. Dailey's class. The record also reflects his method of presenting the class and his interacting with students in the class. The preponderance of the evidence leads me to conclude that Prof. Dailey's classes and materials are not obscene and are not in violation of University policy or state law.
If we needed reminding that perceptions vary widely across the population, this event has provided that reminder. I have visited with Prof. Dailey about the tenor of some of his remarks that, while intended to provide some levity and humor to tense situations, could be misconstrued as insensitive. (One student previously complained about language used in class.) I have asked that he be mindful of the appropriateness of his language in the classroom setting.
While I have evaluated each of Sen. Wagle's allegations and provided my conclusions, I am also mindful that she and the student in Prof. Dailey's class who visited with me, have separately raised the issue of sexual harassment, although in a more informal manner.
Any participants in the class who feel the material is harassing or obscene may bring such charges against Prof. Dailey through the grievance procedure of the School of Social Welfare or the Office of Equal Opportunity, without fear of retaliation for doing so. The bringing of such charges would provide the opportunity for a review of this matter including presentation of evidence, testimony of witnesses and the opportunity to confront testimony in the context of proper University officials and procedures for such matters.
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Attachments to Report: Supporting documents
5/12 News Release: KU report finds no validity to charges against human sexuality Prof. Dailey
5/12 News Release: Latest allegations against Professor Dennis Dailey unsubstantiated, KU says
State Funding of Human Sexuality Classes: Web resource page