Male Sexuality Class Put on Hold Amid National Media Attention

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The UC Berkeley male sexuality class that came under fire last week has been suspended by administrators while an investigation into reports of illicit class activities is conducted.

The class's female counterpart is also under review, but has not been suspended, officials said.

A meeting between the instructors of the student-run classes took place Friday, following an inquiry into the classes by The Daily Californian. But when instructors of the male sexuality class failed to show up, the class was pulled, said George Breslauer, dean of social sciences at UC Berkeley.

Students and instructors of the class told the Daily Cal they took trips to strip clubs and "sex exchanges" and watched an instructor strip. Some also said a party at an instructor's house included group sex and a "party game" that had students photographing their genitalia and then trying to match the pictures to the correct body.

Those activities came as a surprise to the professor charged with overseeing the course, Caren Kaplan, chair of the women's studies department. She told the Daily Cal she does not "police the content."

But now she is heading the investigation into the reports, which have attracted national media attention, said Breslauer.

Under the policies guiding the classes, dubbed "DE-Cals" for Democratic Education at Cal, the sponsoring professor must sign off on the curriculum and then is "responsible for the content" of the class.

A second system of checks is intended, requiring the head of the sponsoring department to agree "that the course is an appropriate one for his or her department."

But since Kaplan is both the sponsoring professor and the chair of the department, no secondary approval was needed.

She could not be reached for comment over the weekend.

Breslauer, her immediate supervisor, said it was "too premature" to make a determination of wrongdoing on Kaplan's part.

He said DE-Cal classes are "run with very little faculty oversight," and added, "That will probably change."

The DE-Cal program is currently offering more than 100 courses, the topics of which range from the history of Afghanistan to counting cards in blackjack. The classes are not funded by the university, but are provided use of campus facilities and count for between 1-2 units toward graduation.

The program is regarded as a triumph for liberal, democratic education. But some fear that the activities in the male sexuality class have endangered the entire program.

Aside from indicating more supervision may be on the horizon, administrators have not said there will be drastic changes to the program.

Instructors of the female sexuality class have already begun to distance themselves from their male counterpart.

"The male and female sexuality classes are two separate classes and are in no way affiliated," said Kim Brodsky, an instructor of a female sexuality class. "We support and defend the curriculum of our course as educational and empowering, and we are looking forward to teaching this class for years to come."

Instructors of the 2-unit male sexuality class likewise defended their curriculum. Drew Navarro, one instructor, said the classes "provide a much-needed forum" for discussion "of how students really feel about themselves and their bodies and others."

The course description on the DE-Cal Web site says the class is "intended to provide a safe environment in which men may learn about their own bodies and male sexuality. This course aims to create a greater community of men and women who are empathetic, understanding and supportive of each other's sexuality."

Some students enrolled in the male sexuality class are now searching for other classes to get their course load above their colleges' minimum unit requirement for full-time student designation-typically 11-13 units.

"Current students are paying the price for alleged wrongdoings last semester," Breslauer said.


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