NU Cancels Human Sexuality Class

UPDATED 05/10/11 8:52 a.m.

EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) – Next fall, Northwestern University won’t offer a human-sexuality class that generated controversy in February after some students witnessed a live sex-toy demonstration.

The instructor of the class, Professor J. Michael Bailey, has been assigned to teach other courses, the university said in a news release.

“Courses in human sexuality are offered in a variety of academic departments in other universities, and Northwestern is reviewing how such a course best fits into the University’s curriculum,” Alan Cubbage, vice president of university relations, said in a written statement. “At Northwestern University, the dean of a college/school has the right and responsibility to determine course assignments.”

Bailey had apologized for allowing a sex demonstration to occur as part of the class but defended the way it was staged, as an option for students to watch.

The demonstration was part of an optional after-class presentation on Feb. 21 in Bailey’s class.

Before the demonstration, Bailey repeatedly warned students that it would be graphic and most of the nearly 600 students registered for his class had left before the demonstration. About 100 stayed to watch.

The students who attended ended up seeing a woman strip naked, lie down on a towel onstage, and allow her partner to use to use a motorized sex toy on her and bring her to orgasm.

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

Along with a “variety” of other items, they brought a “sex saw,” Melvoin-Berg said. The device in question was described by the Daily Northwestern school newspaper as “essentially a motorized phallus.”

Even after his apology in March, Bailey said the demonstration was not harmful to anyone who viewed it.

“During a time of financial crisis, war, and global warming, this story has been a top news story for more than two days. That this is so reveals a stark difference of opinion between people like me, who see absolutely no moral harm in what happened, and those who believe that it was profoundly wrong,” Bailey said in March.

He also took a shot at critics who have condemned his decision to allow the demonstration.

“Those who believe there was, in fact, a serious problem have had considerable opportunity to explain why. … But they have failed to do so. Saying that the demonstration ‘crossed the line,’ ‘went too far,’ ‘was inappropriate,’ or ‘was troubling’ convey disapproval, but do not illuminate reasoning,” Bailey said in March. “If I were grading the arguments I have seen against what occurred, most would earn an ‘F.’ Offense and anger are not arguments.”

  • Eleni

    You seem to be forgetting that students are allowed to choose what courses they wish to take, and at no point in one’s academic career is a gun held to his/her head so that he/she must choose to take a course he/she morally does not agree with.

    Grow up.

    • Maggie

      You may be forgetting that parents foot the bill at this University and also can choose to exercise their right to be dismayed at Academic Idiocy which they have paid for with hard earned money. The last straw was when the arrogant and close minded professor said no one who sent letters and emails to him had any good arguments of why what he did was so wrong. The professor will now have a little more time on his schedule. He could sit under a light and try thinking about why so many normal people were pi**ed off at him. At least the lightbulb will illuminate his head, but probably not his closed mind.

      Throw up.

      • cillia

        just because you foot the bill does that give you the right to make choices for them, parents need to stop trying choose how their child lives, if they are old enough to go to the bathroom, wipe their butts then what rights do you have tp stop them from learning about sex education. I bet little johnny or susie homemaker is using a vibrator or having sex.

    • steveo


      Assuming that all parents pay for their children’s tuition is offensive to me. As a student who paid his own way through college your views are very narrow, and behind the times. Just like your views on sexuality. As the professor said anger and being offended are not arguments. No where in the Constitution does it grant you the right to not be angry or not be offended. Deal with it.


    Darn,And I was about to enroll.I heard the next class demonstration was going to be a man and a donkey followed by a woman and her pony. The professor didn’t think the high powered Milwaukee Sawz All vibrator demonstration was graphic enough for the students to learn about a walk on the wild side. What an astute Professor. Now what will the students do without this higher education? Is it any wonder that this country and its society are in the final stages of a painful and well deserved death spiral? Oh those naughty Professors!

  • Maggie

    Maybe this decision will help to illuminate the argument better for the mishap professor.

  • Luis

    Maybe people should have the right to chose whether they should attend these kind of things.. I KNOW it sounds crazy but it’s possible!

    • Abby

      Read the story…they DID have a choice.

  • Parent

    You never know, a demonstration to better understand the Oedipus complex could have been next if he didn’t think students or parents had an acceptable argument against it. It’s best to shut the class down if his judgement is in question.

  • Gee-reg

    And this is from the town that said they did not want the Tilted Kilt restaurant (hahahahaha) what a joke that place is. Live sex shows on stage in a university but not allowing a restaurant where the girls wear clothes.!!!!!


      Gee,reg,It does seem a little tilted doesn’t it? What’s in the water up there?

  • Heather

    Now this man is a real liberal! he managed to work war and global warming into this!

    But he slipped, he did not blame it on Bush!

  • Boris McCubbin

    Sex is something natural that is one way humans interact with each other. No one made the students watch, it was optional. Calling the professor “closed minded” must be a joke; those who have a problem with this and then complain are the ones who are closed minded. If you chose not to watch, that is your choice, but if you protest those who do chose to watch, then you are forcing your values and morals on others, who may not share your views. This is what makes this country great, everyone has the right to free speech and I consider this a free speech issue.

  • Chris

    Why should parents pay for the class when their precious babies can see it all on internet for FREE! Most of these kids could have taught the teacher a few things!!

  • Jake Bishop

    Man that class sounds like fun. I wish I attended that class.

  • Evilqueen620

    I see nothing wrong with the teacher’s demonstration. It’s a Human Sexuality class. I would have required all the male students to attend, since most of them do not have a clue as to how to please a woman with a sex toy. What’s wrong with all you people, this is the 21st Century.

    • steveo

      But, but, but…..JESUS WOULDN’T APPROVE. :( I think that is the main point of people against this demonstration. Typical cry babies crying loud enough to get their way. Some people really never grow up.

  • Sage

    I totally agree with Evilqueen620! lol The people that are making such a big stink about it are the ones that need to take the class. Loosen up, prudes.

  • seriously

    it is the 21 century and if they are offering classed on how to open up your sexuality then sign me up. if you do all you can and your partner does all he can to make the sexual experiance a good one then we wouldnt hhave so many people in the world running around spreading nasty stds

  • Abby

    Sounds like a free porn show to me. Why pay all that money for tuition?? All you who chose to watch do know you can see that stuff for way cheaper and sometimes for free online or via a rented (or bought) DVD. Give me a break!! Sexuality class my a$s!! Live sex show???!!!?? The professor sounds like a predator to me!

  • cillia

    how old are these students? the majority of the students are having sex or using a vibrator themselves. It is time to grow up this is the real world and if your child can not handle sex then lock them up and continue to shelter them from what is really going on. I woul d hate to see when they get married are you going to be there holding their hand stoke for stoke.

  • S.Smith

    In a Society where 60% of marriages end in divorce, where the top selling pharmaceuticals are Viagra and other ED products, why would anyone ever want to use Education to change those trends. No, it’s so much better to think of sex as something dirty, that should not be talk about with others, that is however until your paying a hundred dollars an hour for marriage counseling.
    Ignorance is such bliss, better still if you add a little religious dogma into the mix. I commend the Professor for trying but he should have know better, not in the Excited States, China maybe, North Korea why not, the Middle East is out, you know how those pesky Religious extremist can be. People wonder why the rest of the world has such a low opinion of the U.S, Bush would tell you it has something to do with Freedom, it doesn’t. You are slowing down the natural evolution of Mankind, you may even be making it go in the wrong direction and we would very much like you to stop. thank you – the rest of the Planet

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