Northwestern Backtracks on Sex Toy Support

The incident will be fully investigated, the school's president said

A day after news hit about an optional live-sex demonstration held at Northwestern University, the school is backtracking on its support of the presentation's "advancement of knowledge."

"I am troubled and disappointed by what occurred," Northwestern President Morton Schapiro said in a written statement issued Thursday, that runs counter to a statement the university released Wednesday. Schapiro said the school would fully investigate the specifics of the incident.

On Feb. 21, Prof. John Michael Bailey, a psychology professor known for pushing the envelope, invited students from his human sexuality class to observe a non-student naked woman being stimulated with a motorized sex toy on stage. (Bailey released a statement defending his decision.)

About 120 students attended the demonstration, which was curated by Chicago sex tour guide Ken Melvoin-Berg.

"Many members of the Northwestern community are disturbed by what took place on our campus," Schapiro said. "So am I."

On Wednesday, when the story broke, university spokesman Alan K. Cubbage said the university stood behind the action.

"Northwestern University faculty members engage in teaching and research on a wide variety of topics, some of them controversial and at the leading edge of their respective disciplines. The University supports the efforts of its faculty to further the advancement of knowledge," a statement read.

That's apparently changed.

Parents of a senior at the school are outraged, saying the incident tarnished Northwestern's reputation.

"Does an orgy fall under the umbrella of education?" Lynn Simmons told NBC Chicago. "Can we just really put anything out there under education?"

The event was billed as a question-and-answer session about fetishes with a demonstration at the end, said Pratik Shah, a senior math and economics student. Students were warned of the nature of the class several times, and some walked out before the demonstration.

"As long as there's been proper warning, the people that stay shouldn't feel offended," Shah said. "They're choosing to see what they're seeing."

Despite the warning, Schapiro said the demonstration reflected extremely poor judgment. "I simply do not believe this was appropriate, necessary or in keeping with Northwestern University’s academic mission," he said.

Simmons, whose daughter was not present during the panel, said the demonstration should not be considered education.

"I was completely shocked that the school would support and stand behind this," Simmons said.

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