NU President Concerned Over Live Sex Demo

Updated 03/03/11 – 5:10 p.m.

EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) — The president of Northwestern University says he is “troubled and disappointed” by a live sex demonstration held after a class in a human sexuality course and said it would be “investigated.”

“Although the incident took place in an after-class session that students were not required to attend and students were advised in advance, several times, of the explicit nature of the activity, I feel it represented extremely poor judgment on the part of our faculty member,” Northwestern president Morton Schapiro said in a statement. “I simply do not believe this was appropriate, necessary or in keeping with Northwestern University’s academic mission.”

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Schapiro’s statement came less than a day after university spokesman Alan Cubbage released a separate statement defending Bailey’s decision.

“Northwestern University faculty members engage in teaching and research on a wide variety of topics, some of them controversial and at the leading edge of their respective disciplines,” Cubbage said in an e-mail on Tuesday. “The University supports the efforts of its faculty to further the advancement of knowledge.”

The demonstration was part of an optional after-class presentation in professor John Michael Bailey’s human sexuality class. The students who attended ended up seeing a woman lying onstage, in person, being penetrated by a motorized sex toy.

Schapiro said even though academic courses will often explore controversial topics, the sex demonstration crossed the line.

“I have directed that we investigate fully the specifics of this incident, and also clarify what constitutes appropriate pedagogy, both in this instance and in the future,” he said in the statement. “Many members of the Northwestern community are disturbed by what took place on our campus. So am I.”

As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, it was the cover story in the student paper on Wednesday and has been the talk of campus the past two days.

“Doctor Bailey’s after-class presentations are always interesting and really different,” Northwestern sophomore Caitlin Mead said.

Mead is a student in Bailey’s human sexuality class and she was one of more than 100 students who chose to watch as a nude woman took part in a live sex demonstration.

“He works to show sexual diversity and, though the presentation was pretty explicit, he gave us fair warning,” Mead said. “It was an optional event and everyone there knew what was going to happen.”

She also said she believes Bailey was trying to entertain his students.

Whatever he was trying to do, Bailey wasn’t saying on Thursday. He wasn’t available for comment, either at his home or his office.

Asked what she learned from the sex demonstration, Mead said, “I wouldn’t say I learned anything new.”

Northwestern staffer Hillary Bean is one of many who said they were disturbed by what she’s heard about the live sex demonstration.

Bean, an employee at the university’s financial administration, said Bailey has been stretching the bounds of decency for a long time.

“I think he’s got a long record of being difficult and should be investigated,” she said. “Professor Bailey has been getting away with a lot of unusual things for a long time.”

Bean wouldn’t say if she thinks Bailey should be fired, but Mead said she doesn’t think the demonstration should cost Bailey his job.

“I think Professor Bailey is one of the best, if not the best professor that I’ve had at Northwestern,” Mead said. “I think he is just looking to tell us the truth.”

But Bean said Bailey’s poor decision turned the ivory tower of academia into something more like a downtown red light district for a time last week.

“Live sex demonstrations probably shouldn’t be in the classroom of a top Big Ten university of the caliber we have,” she said. “Granted it was an optional after-class (event) but nonetheless, I don’t believe it’s terribly appropriate.”

Guest speaker Ken Melvoin-Berg had come for a discussion on the woman and her fiancé with him to the Feb. 21 presentation on “Networking for Kinky People.”

Along with a “variety” of other items, they brought a “sex saw,” Melvoin-Berg told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman. The device in question is described by the Daily Northwestern as “essentially a motorized phallus.”

Melvoin-Berg said the students who stayed after class were informed of the graphic content over a dozen times, and received more warnings before a man used the sex saw on his fiancée in the live demonstration.

“(The woman) got on stage and took her pants and her panties off. She lay down on the stage and put a towel underneath her,” Melvoin-Berg said. “Then (the man) plugged saw in. He brought her to orgasm right there on stage. That was the end of it, other than the fact that we had positive comments from everybody in the class.”

In a written statement, Bailey echoed the remark, calling reaction to the demonstration “uniformly positive.” He said while he briefly had doubts about the live sex demonstration because he knew many students would find it “inappropriate,” he decided to approve it.

“My decision to say ‘yes’ reflected my inability to come up with a legitimate reason why students should not be able to watch such a demonstration. After all, those still there had stayed for an optional demonstration/lecture about kinky sex, and were told explicitly what they were about to see,” he said

Read Bailey’s Statement

At least one Northwestern parent has called for his dismissal.

  • WOW !

    where is the you tube link ? Come On Now !

    • Frank

      I don’t see an issue here. Isn’t Northwestern a school that the best and the brightest attend? Don’t the parents of these supposedly intelligent children think their kids can handle it? If the parents think they can’t then maybe their kids shouldn’t be attending a university. The president of the school should tell the parents that their blessed children haven’t been mentally damaged,at least no more than having been raised by them..

  • equal opportunity

    when will we get to see the live demo of a male being used for this kind of demo?

    • SRS


    • Vicky

      LMAO my mom said they could lay their members on a windowsill and slam it down on all of them…..

  • Roberta Waker

    Very inappropriate. After the “show” how many were aroused enough to do something stupid like have immediate sex or even think about rape? If you get “hot” enough common sense doesn’t always prevail and any one of these idiots could have raped a child to satisfy their immediate “needs”. Standards really shouldn’t be necessary where common sense should prevail. The professor should have known better unless this is how he gets his “jollies” off.

    • ara01

      Roberta, I’m sure you meant well, but I have to disagree with you. First of all, while it is a common misconception, rape is not about sex–it is about power and control. Thus should students have become aroused in the classroom, this would not have made them likely to go and rape someone. In fact, I would actually argue the opposite as other articles I have read on the demonstration that took place actually talk about the fact that part of the lecture involved a discussion of consent during sex. This would seem to suggest a greater awareness about what is legally considered rape versus consensual intercourse which is something that in my experience as a rape crisis counselor and community advocate for survivors of sexual assault, is an issue that is often misunderstood. To argue that an individual has no control over his/her sexuality or arousal is exactly one of the myths that inadvertently lead to blaming the survivor of sexual assault.

    • FR

      Relax, they were told in advance. Perhaps the entire course is inappropriate but if the course was allowed, this demonstration fits the course.

  • Chill.

    A little out there, sure, but they’re all adults. I don’t understand why parents feel the need to call for any faculty member’s dismissal because of this – their kids are grown up now, and they’re mature enough to see it.

    Roberta, watching two people having sex is not nearly enough of a psychological stimulant for rape. You are blaming the essentially harmless demonstration for instigating impulses that normal adults should be able to control. If they can’t control it, that’s their problem, and they need to fix it.

    Personally, I’d prefer a more complete sex ed course to any Bible Study course out there. At least this teaches people about things that, uh, exist.

  • FR

    The sign says “Public Affairs Residential College”. Remove the L in Public.

  • Bad Boys Bad Boys Whatta Gonna Do

    He should be Top Cop.

  • Busy D Buzzer

    Did the janitor have to bring in the mop afterwords?

  • Parent

    This is why people are losing their respect for our system of education, professors, and teachers. The parents have every right to complain if they are paying for their children to get a respectable education. It doesn’t make Northwestern look like a top university.

  • Tanya Livingston

    This is the same college that employs Weatherman Terrorist, non-lawyer Bernadine Dohrn in its juvenile law program and a Holocaust denier pysics professor. Values.

  • John R

    The chick who demonstrated can now do a spread in Playboy for like a million bucks.

  • Gary Thompson

    I think it was Brandon Davies and his girlfriend who put on the show. They’re doing a live national sex tour at colleges across the country. This is from all the pent up sexual frustration from three years at BYU.

  • Chitownray

    Hey..think they would allow this at BYU…lol..they had a guy get kicked off the B-Ball team just for getting a little bit..

  • Mary

    We have no shame anymore in this world. Remeber Sodom & Gamorah. (sp?)

  • Sym Clough

    I don’t understand why people are so upset over this. The students are all adults and warned several times in advance. Plus, they didn’t have to watch.

  • Illinois college graduate

    This professor obviously didn’t think before allowing this large class to witness this on campus demonstration. This lecture could have simply been offered off campus and not affiliated with the school. The professor needs to be reprimanded or fired if the previous problems suggest a problematic employee. On a positive note, why didn’t my Illinois state school offer such a great education?

  • Errybody Chill

    This is so not a big deal. OH MY GOD THERE WAS SEX IN A CLASSROOM. The Northwestern Fuddy Duddy’s need to calm down.

  • Sharon

    I am equally concerned with the news media reporting and showing the device used. You seem to keep forgetting that all are not sane out here and a copy cat may not make the instrument correctly and may use it to hurt unwilling victims.

  • Maggie

    OMG, this just proves that Northwestern U. is not what it is touted to be. He needs goofballs and a “real man’s toy” to validate his own sexual dysfunction. If I were a student in that class I would have flipped him the bird and walked out. Why do “smart” college students tolerate this waste of time and can’t see through this charade? Hoping the model was 250 lbs. Maybe he should ask Prof. Bernadette Dohrn to be one of his “models.” Ha Ha Ha

  • Julia Revelle

    If this is allowed to our young adults in school we must ask the question what is the real purpose of education. Is it to prepare our children for the work world or to throw in every persons philosophy that comes along to shape the minds of our children to the way that they think life should be experienced. Where is the line drawn.

  • Matt

    I don’t understand what the big deal is here. Everyone who watched it was consenting adults. They were told what was going to happen. It’s not like this was being shown to a bunch of 12 or 14 year old children who legally cannot make their own decisions.

    Also, just because this doesn’t fit in what you consider “normal” classroom teachings doesn’t make it wrong. The whole class is about human sexuality, are you saying the teacher shouldn’t talk about sex or show any pictures / diagrams because they are too controversial?

    Now, I will say, I am not sure what the teacher is actually trying to teach with the demonstration. It doesn’t seem like the news has commented on that part. Assuming that there was some sort of knowledge that was to be shared from it, I don’t have an issue with it.

  • Kelly

    I don’t understand the controversy. These were all consenting adults who had clearly been told what to expect. No one forced them to stay and watch. I don’t think this Professor did anything wrong. Seems like there are lots of frigid people out there who have their undies all bunched up for a whole lot of nothing. I think Northwestern should be more concerned about all the drinking and drug use on their campus. Where was this Prof when I was in college:).

  • Eat Fish For Lent

    Give me that fillet o fish.

  • ara01

    To those who question the purpose of such a demonstration, I would like to point out that based on the information given in the article about the course, the class seems to be one intended for psychology majors. While I might argue that such a demonstration would be better suited for a graduate level course, I would not issue a judgment on the professor without knowing more about his intent. Before you dismiss such a demonstration as irrelevant, bear in mind that the individuals enrolled in such a course are likely students who are undergoing training to become therapists. An important part of their work may very well involve being able to educate and work with clients and couples who present with fear or shame toward themselves as sexual beings or who are inhibited by biological or psychological problems. These student’s knowledge of human sexuality is an important element in their ability to work with such clients. Equally important is their own ability to understand their own feelings toward sexuality and be able to separate these out from that of their clients in order to remain objective in their work.

    Additionally, as much as our society tends to repress sex, it is important to realize that intercourse is a natural, biological act and not something that should be viewed in a shameful way. In fact, many sexual disorders are the result of such sociocultural views toward sex which force an individual to distance themselves cognitively from the experience with their partner as a defense against anxiety. The demonstration, from what I have read, is one that allows the students to follow through each stage of the human sexual response cycle and while some may argue that the use of a sex toy is unnatural, it is also important to understand that pleasuring one’s partner without engaging in intercourse is actually a part of a therapeutic technique called sensate focusing that the therapist may counsel a couple to explore as the first step toward achieving satisfaction in a dysfunctional sex life.

    With all that being said, I am not going to issue a judgment saying that I agree or disagree with the decision made by this professor as I do not have enough information to make such a judgment. However, I would certainly remind those reading the article to consider these points before rushing to say that this was absolutely unacceptable. Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that all of these students are adults–and likely toward the end of their college careers based on where this particular course generally falls. My understanding is that students were additionally given informed consent–meaning they were made aware of the explicit content as well as any potential risks. I would imagine that a psychology professor would also be well aware of not only the ethical obligation he has to his students, but also would make himself available for any of the students who needed to process the workshop after the class.

    • aria303

      our society celebrates sex ad nauseaum, so you are wrong. it is important for you to realize that sex among mammals is usually done privately. it is also significantly important for you to grow up. with all that being said, a psychology class can easily incorporate a human sexuality compenent in it, without this charade. i could imagine this “psychology” professor could not care less about ethics. the last person i’d want to see and talk with after this silliness is “the professor” who allowed it. equally important is for you to suggest the professor take the drill and press it against his head to gain an ability to understand what a lobotomy feels like. good luck in life, cause sweetie pie, clueless kind, you’ll need it!

  • "Intercourse"saw

    Pics or it didn’t happen!

  • sheik

    This is wrong. Okay, maybe the students viewing this were all adults. And maybe some of them are going to pursue a line of work where knowing how to operate a very large power tool will come in handy. Blah, blah, blah.. This freak of a professor let his little head do the thinking for the one on his shoulders. What’s next? Bring in the donkey or organize an orgy, all in the name of higher learning. The guy is runing his own little freak parade and he took it too far. Fire him and let someone with some common sense take over.

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