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Oct 04, 2013 12:48 PM EDT

Brown Nudity Week: Students Upset With Jesse Watters' 'Exploitative' Coverage

Brown University
(Photo : Flickr/CC) The Brown University Queer Alliance's "Sex Power God" party came into focus when Jesse Watters covered it for Fox News.

Brown University students were not pleased with the media coverage surrounding the school's private student art event, "Nudity in the Upspace," but only the coverage of one Fox News reporter.

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Jesse Watters, a correspondent for Fox News' show "the O'Reilly Factor," showed up on the school's campus Wednesday to report on the second annual event. After word spread of the types of questions he was asking, Brown senior Emily Kassie began her own report.

"[Watters] asked a myriad of female students whether they 'were going to de-robe,' and 'whether they enjoyed nude-body painting,'" Kassie told the Huffington Post. "Students were outraged at this inappropriate and arguably misogynistic and predatory language. Further, Watters called the event a 'University wide-nude week,' which of course is [totally] inaccurate."

Kassie recorded her interviews and posted the video to Brown Political Review's YouTube page ahead of Watters' segment, which will air Oct. 9. Kassie said her piece is an effort to "undercut any manipulative video he might produce" to be shown on "the O'Reilly Factor."


Nudity in the Upspace is in its second year at Brown. It is a week of activities in the nude including body painting, yoga, theater and even panel discussions and an open mic night. The main purpose behind the week of events is to tackle issues such as sex and harmful body image stereotypes. Also, cell phones and other forms of technology are often forbid at these events, so there is virtually no way to digitally document what goes on.

"I think it's pretty offensive and exploitative for them to ask if young women feel comfortable becoming nude in that kind of space," Brown student Todd Baker said in the video, "because immediately when a 40-something year-old man from Fox News asks you that, the look on his face says, 'And you should be ashamed if the answer is yes.'"

Another student in the video said Watters asked her if her parents would approve of such behavior, how much tuition is and whether she has ever used drugs.

"They're not telling them the mission behind 'Nudity in the Upspace' ... they're just taking it out of context and focusing on the fact that we're college kids and we're getting naked," said Michael Gabrielle, another Brown student. "We're not at a frat party getting naked, this is an intellectual [event]."

Watters actually has a brief history with Brown University. In 2005, he reported on Brown's Queer Alliance's "Sex Power God" party, which also celebrates nudity. That night, several students required emergency care, mostly for intoxication.

Watters has also been singled out by a campus publication for his reporting on a Providence, R.I. "Holiday Tree." In his segment he interviewed several college students on whether they referred to the tree as a "Christmas" tree or a "Holiday" tree. The Blog Daily Herald called Watters a "creepy, ambushing, stalker, lunatic."

The Nudity Week event organizers told the Huffington Post they have not had any problems in the now two-year history of the event.

"We found our audiences last year extremely respectful, and we haven't had to worry much about our fellow students acting immature at these events," the student organizers wrote in the email. "People tend to attend the events, especially those that require tickets, very intentionally and to understand and respect the purpose of the space."

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