We may have reached peak Title IX idiocy with this story.
University of Kentucky administrators have punished journalism professor Buck Ryan for sexual misconduct for singing a modified version of The Beach Boys’ hit “California Girls” while teaching a storytelling class at China’s Jilin University. UK has a partnership program with Jilin and Ryan was teaching in China as part of that program. According to Ryan, no victims have been identified and he was never given an opportunity to defend himself against the charges.
Ryan sang the 1965 Beach Boys song during the program’s closing ceremonies. University officials in Kentucky found that the song was “of major concern and embarrassment” to other faculty members who were with Ryan during the trip, according to a redacted letter about the allegations against Ryan.
The letter from Patty Bender, the school’s assistant vice president for equal opportunity, states that Ryan’s behavior during the trip also involved “inappropriate touching” of students and use of sexual language. The professor is not suspected of having a sexual relationship with a student. What, specifically he’s accused of doing is unclear, as several details have been redacted from the letter, which was recently made public.
Ryan pleaded his own case in an op-ed published in the Courier-Journal.
The University of Kentucky has punished me in a “sexual misconduct” case, in part, for singing a Beach Boys tune covered by Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Going with the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” defense right out of the gate is a bold move.
Under Administrative Regulation 6:1, Discrimination and Harassment, UK’s Title IX coordinator ruled that the song, “California Girls,” included “language of a sexual nature” and was somehow offensive, though no victims were identified.
The same regulation prohibits “making an intentionally false accusation,” so the question arises: How competent is UK’s Title IX office?
If my case is any indication, then everyone concerned about discrimination and sexual harassment should be alarmed.
Ryan sang several popular songs with the lyrics modified to fit Chinese culture. While this sounds kind of cheesy, it hardly sounds like sexual misconduct.
UK’s three-month investigation of my case revealed no student complaints. In my more than 30 years of college teaching, I have never faced a complaint of sexual misconduct from a student.
As a former director of the journalism school, I know that if a student or a faculty member comes forward with a complaint, the university insists on due process to resolve the problem.
Ryan claims that the dean who issued his punishment never spoke to him and informed him of his penalties with a letter hand delivered by assistants. The University forbids Ryan from receiving any international travel funds and a “prestigious award” won by Ryan has been rescinded . When he complained to his provost he found no support.
When I inquired about my due process rights, I was told by the provost that I didn’t have any. Here’s the quote:
“There is no constitutional right to represent the University of Kentucky abroad. Nor is there a constitutional right to teach a particular class. Accordingly, the University has no obligation to provide you with due process.”
As a result, I was convicted without trial of inappropriate behavior, which never occurred, with two women students. They wanted to defend me, but they were never interviewed by university officials.
That he had no opportunity to defend himself or have anyone speak on his behalf looks unjust. One wonders if there’s more to this case than what’s being reported.
As for the song that begins, “Well Shanghai girls are hip; I really dig those styles they wear,” what kind of mind views it as offensive for using “language of a sexual nature”?
Unfortunately, for the wrongly accused, it is the same kind of mind that can see innocent acts as perverted ones.
This certainly sounds like an overreaction by UK, though we are really only seeing one side of the story. It’s possible that Ryan is omitting some other action that might have been the cause for this punishment. That said, it seems entirely too plausible that this is a case of an over reaching social justice warrior rashly dishing out punishment for asinine reasons simply because she can. If Ryan is telling the whole story in his op-ed, he is the latest victim of the puritanical left who now dominates higher education.