By Natalie Hayes
CHICAGO (CBS)—Saturday night was supposed to be a fun kickoff to the new school year at Purdue University, but American comedian Andy Gross’s show at the Boiler Gold Rush event left many students feeling disrespected.
Thousands of students gathered in a campus auditorium for a comedic performance by Andy Gross. The comedian’s YouTube channel has garnered millions of viewers, but his routine attracted plenty of unwanted attention when he allegedly made obscene jokes and gestures toward a college woman he pulled onstage.
Students in attendance are claiming he sexually harassed the woman, according to CBS 4 Indiana.
Some of the students described how Gross asked a female volunteer from the audience to come on stage, and then requested that she place her hand on his leg. Upset students say there were other set-ups for sexual harassment, including when Gross asked the same female volunteer to “press up against me back to back, cheek to cheek.”
Students reacted quickly, with many filing out of the auditorium while Gross continued his routine. Students right away began Tweeting under the hashtag #andygrossisgross.
Crown Point, Indiana freshman Sherry Zhang was in the audience Saturday night during the Boiler Gold Rush event, which serves as a weeklong introduction for incoming freshman students. The university had invited Gross to be part of the performance.
“He started making sexual jokes and it was kind of obvious how uncomfortable she was,” Zhang said. “He even made an erection joke and obviously she got uncomfortable after that but he didn’t stop.”
Many of the already-uncomfortable students started filing out of the auditorium after Gross addressed his apparent sexual arousal.
Photos taken by Purdue student Hannah Erdos show a packed auditorium before Gross took the stage and the mostly-empty seats following his on-stage comments.
It appears Gross finally realized his comments were offensive toward the end of the show, when he tried unsuccessfully to recruit more students onto the stage.
“He asked the entire front row to come onstage, but they all said ‘no,’” Zhang said. “He said he ‘felt weird,’ but he kept being persistent.”
Ian Erdos, Hannah’s father who lives in Chicago, didn’t place blame on Purdue for inviting Gross to perform.
“The University should have been able to pull him off stage though,” Erdos said in an email to CBS 2 Chicago.
Purdue released a statement saying: “On Saturday night, a comedian performed as part of our BGR student orientation closing session. Accounts differ as to what exactly happened on stage, but some portions of the performance were clearly inappropriate and contrary to the university’s values of respect and support for all. We will not work with this comedian again and are proud of our students who are standing up and voicing their concerns about the performance.”
CBS reached out to Gross on social media, but did not receive a response.