Mitchell Gunter and Bradley Devlin, Campus Reform
A student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania has been barred from attending a religious studies class required for graduation after pointing out that there are only two genders.
“Later this week I will be defending myself and my FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS in front of the Academic Integrity Board (AIB) of the Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania (IUP) against allegations of Classroom Conduct violations,” Lake Ingle stated in a Facebook post, which was deleted after Ingle retained legal representation.
“The decision made by the AIB that day will determine whether I will be able to continue participating in my full course load, as well as graduate this May as scheduled,” Ingle continued, adding, “This is not transgender, woman’s rights, or wage issue. This is about free speech and the constant misuse of intellectual power in universities.”
According to Ingle, the class was forced to watch a Ted-Talk on February 28 featuring Paula Stone, a transgender woman, who gave examples of “mansplaining,” “male privilege,” and systematic sexism. Following the video, Ingle wrote that the instructor “opened the floor to WOMEN ONLY. Barring men from speaking until the women in the class have had their chance to speak.”
After some time had elapsed, Ingle stated he “took this opportunity to point out the official view of biologists who claim there are only two biological genders,” and refuted the “gender wage gap,” after which class resumed as normal.
“The floor was opened, and not a single woman spoke. Thirty seconds or so passed and still no woman had spoken. So, I decided it was permissible for me to enter the conversation, especially because I felt the conversation itself was completely inappropriate in its structure,” Ingle told Campus Reform. “I objected to the use of the anecdotal accounts of one woman’s experience to begin a discussion in which they were considered reality. It was during my objection that Dr. Downie attempted to silence me because I am not a woman.”
On February 29, Ingle met with his instructor, who he says gave him two documents—an Academic Integrity Referral Form and Documented Agreement. Photos of each document, along with a letter from IUP Provost Dr. Tomothy Moerland, were provided to Campus Reform.
Both the referral form and agreement charge Ingle with “Disrespectful objection to the professor’s class discussion structure; refusal to stop talking out of turn; angry outbursts in response to being required to listen to a trans speaker discuss the reality of white male privilege and sexism; disrespectful references to the validity of trans identity and experience; [and making a] disrespectful claim that a low score on any class work would be evidence of professor’s personal prejudice.”
According to the documented agreement, IUP is now attempting to force Ingle to apologize, stipulating that “Lake will write an apology to the professor which specifically addresses each of the disrespectful behaviors described above.”
Moreover, the agreement proclaims that on March 8, “Lake will begin class with an apology to the class for his behavior and then listen in silence as the professor and/or any student who wishes to speak shares how he or she felt during Lake’s disrespectful and disruptive outbursts on 2-28.”
“The Office of the Provost has received a request from [REDACTED] Instructor for RLST 481 – Special Topic – Self, Sin, and Salvation, to remove you from class due to behaviors that significantly disrupt the learning process in this class,” the letter to Ingle from Provost Moerland states. “Due to the serious nature of the issue, you are barred from attending this class in accordance with the Classroom Disruption policy.”
Although the instructor of the course is redacted, Professor Alison Downie is listed as the only instructor for that particular course on IUP’s website.
“During my time as a Religious Studies major, I have had professors insult me for opposing views, call me names such as ‘racist’ or ‘sexist’, and have had my views discredited due my race, gender, and sexual orientation,” Ingle stated in his Facebook post.
“In short – this is not the first time an instructor and I have had a disagreement over course material or that I have objected to the views being pushed on the class,” he continued. “That being said, the wording in the documents is not only exaggerated, but more than one line is entirely untruthful and is done so purposefully to discredit my views and paint me as intolerant and ignorant.”
“It is my belief that the instructor’s decision to file these sanctions is an attempt to bully me into redacting my views, making it a matter of free speech,” Ingle concluded.
Ingle told Campus Reform that he will be defending his First Amendment rights to the university’s Academic Integrity Board, which will determine whether he will be allowed to resume attending class regularly, or be forced to graduate late.
“The censorship on college campuses is an issue I have tried to take head on in many of my courses as well as offering the opposing, conservative view that many classroom discussion beg for,” he said, adding that he is fighting less for himself than for the many other conservative students who endure similar experiences.
“With regards to my conflict with the university and instructor, I am fighting to make my voice heard. Not only my voice, but the voices of others that oppose popular university opinion,” he explained. “I am not battling my professor to prove that I am right about gender wage gaps or transgenderism, I am fighting to ensure that students may disagree with their professors and if they do, must speak up.”
Campus Reform reached out to Professor Downie and Provost Moerland, but did not receive a response from either in time for publication.
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