A Queer Debate

from marshall.csu.edu.au
This month the University of Missouri made news when it was announced that the school would be the first in the Big 12 Conference to distribute free condoms in residential hall bathrooms. The news, as it turns out, was a bit premature. Days later, the school pulled out of the plan when Mizzou chancellor Brady Deaton announced that the free-prophylactics plan had not been properly vetted by university officials and required further study.

But the rubber debate isn't the only sex topic generating headlines. Last week papers in Kansas City and Columbia reported faculty outrage over remarks MU curator David Wasinger made concerning various queer theory classes taught within the university system.

The Kansas City Star quotes MU sociology professor Rex Campbell, who said he overheard one of the comments Wasinger is purported to have made during the October 5 curators' meeting.

"I heard him make a jocular comment to curator Doug Russell about putting on a grass skirt and having a lap dance or something to that effect," said Campbell. "My reaction was: Mr. Wasinger has made similar comments in other curator meetings and, well, I guessed he was back on the same theme again."

A Clayton-based attorney, Wasinger was appointed to the curators' board last year by Gov. Matt Blunt. In an e-mail exchange with the Star, Wasinger stated the comments came during a conversation on how university administrators evaluate the quality and effectiveness of academic programs.

"I mentioned that someone had sent me information in which the University of Missouri is apparently sponsoring courses and programs entitled 'Queer Theory' and 'Pick the Queer,'" Wasinger stated. "On their face, these course descriptions appear to be demeaning to homosexuals. More importantly, I noted that the university has chemistry labs that are in dire need of repair, and inquired whether our limited resources would be better spent on other programs such as math and sciences."

Meanwhile, the Columbia Daily Tribune reports the faculty senate at the University of Missouri-St. Louis rebuked Wasinger at a meeting last week and passed a resolution rejecting "all forms of bigotry, including homophobia."

Wasinger remains resolute in his contention that curators should have input into what is taught within the university system.

"The UMSL Faculty Senate and I apparently respectfully disagree about where Missouri taxpayers' money should be allocated," he wrote in an e-mail response to the Tribune. "In addition, there appears to be a lack of academic and intellectual diversity, and the Senate is attempting to chill a meaningful dialogue about the academic merit of courses such as 'Queer Theory.'" -Chad Garrison

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