(about my instructor)
January 22, 2006
To Whom It May Concern:
During the Spring Intercession, I took Philosophy 110 with Mr. W. Within a few minutes of the first day of classes, I knew it was not going to be a typical class here at L College. Mr. W’s vulgarities, including such phrases as “God damn,” “bullshit,” and the like peppered his lectures at a rate that surprised even me. It was uncalled for.
The second day of class, we watched an extremely graphic video of sex and the effects of sexual arousal on the human body. I am a Licensed Midwife, so sex and the discussions surrounding it are a normal part of my life, but this video and ensuing lecture were embarrassing not only for me, but for most of the other students around me. Baffled as to the reason for seeing such a graphic film, it was glibly defended with a remark about needing to show us that all that we see isn’t always what it is. While the video was from The Learning Channel on television, I felt it was still incredibly inappropriate for even a college classroom.
Immediately after this video was shown, Mr. W made a surprisingly amazing – and incorrect – statement that went like this: If women have an orgasm one hour before having sexual relations, then that is 100% birth control. As a midwife, I could not let that one go and challenged his comment with asking for references because I had never ever heard that one before and I’d worked at Planned Parenthood! He mumbled around the issue, never addressing it again. When he took a few moments to pull videos out of his satchel, I grabbed the opportunity and turned to the class begging the women to NOT use orgasm as a method of birth control. Many of the women came to me during the three weeks and thanked me for challenging and correcting the teacher.
Another graphic description Mr. W seemed to delight in offering, albeit not in a sexual manner, was violence in the world. Over and over, he would describe, in vivid detail, the horrors that are happening in our world today. I knew quickly, I would need to do something to protect my psyche because, for a variety of reasons, I am extremely sensitive to violence and violent images. Before I realized the extent he would go to demonstrate how “lucky” we are in this country, Mr. W showed another video, horribly, disgustingly graphic photos of women and children mutilated, interviews with people who witnessed these atrocities, and vivid descriptions of how a variety of cultures are terrorizing and killing off their citizens. I thought I would be sick.
If I had dropped this class and waited to attend a different class during a normal semester, it would have extended my stay by an entire semester and I am scheduled to graduate in May. I decided to find a way to cope.
I asked permission to bring my computer in to take notes and he said that was fine, so whenever he would begin discussing violent or sexual topics (and they occurred no less than five times a class including references to bestiality and rape as favorite topics), I would click over to pictures of flowers or my dog and meditate on those until he was finished with his tirade/point.
While I could give thirty examples of sexual and violent comments/monologues, I want to share, quickly, two more points that I feel are extremely important.
1. Mr. W seems to despise Muslims and Christians. He was much more violent about Muslims saying we (Americans) should “ship all the Muslims in the world to Iraq and then carpet-bomb the place.” This was but one of many, many cruel references to Muslims in the class. His views on Christianity were amazingly intolerant for a Philosophy teacher. Questioning religion, sure… but such cruelty was uncalled for. (And I am Jewish – he loves Judaism – so I am saying this from an adult, important-to-be-tolerant-of-others standpoint.)
2. Mr. W had a special derision saved for anyone under twenty-three years old (97% of the class) saying such things as they are “stupid,” “ignorant,” “don’t know anything,” and more. “Stupid” was said on many, many occasions when referencing young people. To me, of ALL the extremely inappropriate words that flowed from this man’s mouth, these words of disrespect and unkindness towards young adults were the most vile. I tried to bolster the students where I could (since I am near his age), but any attempt at discourse, challenge to a belief, or correction of an incorrect statement were met with his speaking louder and over the person trying to share an idea or thought. We all quickly gave up.
I need this grade (and will have an “A” for the class), so chose to wait until after grades were given before saying anything to those who might temper or regulate the topics or lesson plans. I do hope you understand my need to wait.
Thank you so much for listening to this extremely long letter. I felt it important to share as much information as possible so you had a complete picture of my intercession class in Philosophy. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call or email.