Teaching tools have apparently become more exotic since the days of slide rules and overhead projectors. When his freewheeling pedagogical style landed him, effectively, in the Dean’s office, International Relations professor Arthur N. Gilbert found himself making what, for many, would be embarrassing admissions.
For example, the tenured University of Denver associate professor “explained that he brings in an old, art-deco vibrator in [sic] lecturing students on gender-related differences in attitudes toward masturbation and masculine self-control in the late 19th century,” Peter Schmidt reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education in the issue that comes out on November 4, 2011. Similarly, “he was accused of using obscenities in class, which he admitted, and of placing his hands on the shoulders and backs of female students, which he explained as platonic displays of support.”
A pair of collegians complained to university officials early this year. The provost pulled the professor from the class. The review committee of the professor’s peers ruled 9-to-1 in his favor. The dean sided with the provost.
“The two students who had filed anonymous complaints about Mr. Gilbert had objected to statements about masturbation that he made in March, in teaching a class titled, ‘The Domestic and International Consequences of the Drug War,’” Schmidt reports. “The university has not released their complaint, but Mr. Gilbert says he makes reference to changing public attitudes toward masturbation in discussing connections between efforts in the early 1900s to restrict drug use and that period’s taboos against various sexual behaviors.”
Yet and still, although the comments that got the professor in trouble were made this year, students who have taken his classes have been making equally anonymous, although startlingly similar, allegations on Rate My Professors.com since 2005:
- “All he ever talked about was sex and masturbation, and how it apparently contributes to violence?!?” one student noted in 2005.
- “True, Art might be a little crazy but he’s fun, and he’s also a nice guy,” one of his students wrote in 2006. “Plus, you can always count on him to tell you the truth no matter how non PC it is…after all ‘I don’t give a****, I have tenure!’”
- “Gilbert’s been at DU over 40 years and is a little crass and crazy, but fun,” another anonymous student reviewer related that same year.
- “Go to class, take notes, leave your laptop at home, watch Gilbert hit on the freshman girls sitting in the front 2 rows,” a student in his class wrote in 2008.
- “Lots of sex,” another student claimed that same year. “No. Really. There really is a lot of sex info in his class.”
- “Don’t take his classes if you are disturbed by language, violence, sex, etc.,” one reviewer advised in 2009.
What is truly remarkable is that most of the reviews quoted above are from his favorable ratings.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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