University of Colorado Boulder Sociology Professor Forced to Retire Following Controversial Prostitution LectureBy Russell Westerholm, UniversityHerald Reporter
Patricia Adler has given a lecture on prostitution in a class she has taught for 20 years but is all of a sudden retiring, however, her students do not think it was their instructor's choice.
Adler told her 500-student class, "Deviance in U.S. Society," Thursday that it would be her last class she will ever teach at the University of Colorado (CU), Boulder. According to the Colorado Daily Camera, Adler said she and her husband Peter were traveling to Maui on Friday, presumably to celebrate her retirement.
Both Patricia and Peter are sociology professors Mrs. Adler at CU-Boulder and Mr. Adler at the University of Denver. Patricia Adler's students said the teacher lectured for about 20 minutes before announcing her abrupt retirement, which they believe was not her decision, but one forced on her by the school.
The prostitution lecture is the highlight of one of the school's most popular courses year after year. Adler told Inside Higher Ed she was told by school officials that part of the course was offensive and had to be removed.
The lecture is delivered as a skit, involving assistant teaching assistants reading from scripts. The undergraduate assistants play the roles of "slave whores, crack whores, bar whores, streetwalkers, brothel workers and escort services."
As described by Inside Higher Ed: "During the lecture, Adler talks with [the assistant teaching assistants in character] about such issues as their backgrounds, 'how they got into the business,' how much they charge, the services they perform, and the risks they face of violence, arrest and AIDS. The class is a mix of lecture and discussion, just like most classes, she said."
After Thursday's announcement, Adler's students reportedly gave their teacher a standing ovation and shared emotional hugs and gave tearful goodbyes.
Adler told the class she tried to negotiate with the school's administration about teaching prostitution in a more conventional manner, dropping the skit entirely. She was told she had to drop any course material related to the subject.
Students said one day they noticed some people who were not students attend the class and took extensive notes. Adler said this apparently followed a complaint about the prostitution skit.
"She did a hell of a job maintaining face and coming off more disappointed and sad than angry at what happened," sophomore Chad Henderson told the Camera. "It was very tumultuous. She was clearly distraught and trying to hold it together as best as she could."
"The lecture was attempting to make a lesson about a deviant activity more interesting (considering that the class is indeed entitled "Deviance")," the petition reads. "Patti is a well-respected and dedicated educator who has literally been the face of the Sociology Department - students in a variety of majors want to take her class and love it as well. She puts all her effort into this class and is always making sure we are learning and understanding the material by making lectures captivating."