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NU Cancels Human Sexuality Class

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Northwestern University Professor John Michael Bailey

Northwestern University Professor John Michael Bailey has apologized for allowing a live sex toy demonstration in his class on Feb. 21, 2011. (Credit: CBS/Northwestern University)

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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.”

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