A professor at the City University of New York's Brooklyn College reports he was asked to change a class syllabus by school administrators worried a participation grade could be misunderstood as a request for sexual favors.
Prof. David Seidemann wrote at Minding the Campus, a higher ed watchdog site, that his syllabus included a notice that grading would consider "Class deportment, effort etc……. 10% (applied only to select students when appropriate)." In an email to Reason about the resulting reprimand, Seidemann said his department chair told him that statement "could be construed as a prelude to sexual harassment" and should be immediately excised. The administrator also said Seidemann must remove an announcement that his classroom would welcome "all constitutionally protected speech" without censorship of unpopular viewpoints.
The investigation was reportedly initiated not by any student complaints but by the school's director of diversity investigations and Title IX enforcement. When Seidemann, who is tenured and thus cannot simply be fired for refusing to edit his syllabus, insisted further discussion of the participation grade happen exclusively over email so there would be a written record of the conversation, the investigation was dropped. Bonnie Kristian