Students of Philadelphia’s University of the Arts have created a petition calling for professor Camille Paglia to be replaced with a “queer person of colour” following accusations of anti-trans comments.
The petition accuses Paglia of “degrading transgender individuals” in classes and interviews.
“She believes that most transgender people are merely participating in a fashion trend,” student Sheridan Merrick wrote.
Critics have pointed to a 2017 interview, in which Paglia told the now-defunct Weekly Standard: “Although I describe myself as transgender (I was donning flamboyant male costumes from early childhood on), I am highly skeptical about the current transgender wave, which I think has been produced by far more complicated psychological and sociological factors than current gender discourse allows.”
Camille Paglia accused of mocking #MeToo
The petition goes on to allege that Paglia has “blatantly mocked survivors of sexual assault and the #MeToo movement” in recent interviews.
It links to a video, taken from an April 2016 interview with Spike, in which Paglia says she finds it “ridiculous” that universities “tolerate” historic accusations of rape.
“These girls have been coached to imagine that the world is a dangerous place. They expect the omnipresence of authority figures in every stage of their lives,” she says.
“They expect that a mistake they might make at a fraternity party, that they might regret six months or a year later, that somehow this isn’t ridiculous?
“To me it’s ridiculous if even for a second that any university ever tolerated a complaint from a girl coming six months or a year after an event.”
Philadelphia students demand apology from David Yager
Students have demanded that university president David Yager apologise for a “wildly ignorant and hypocritical letter” which he released on April 10.
In it, the university’s president spoke of how “artists over the centuries have suffered censorship, and even persecution, for the expression of their beliefs through their work.”
“Unfortunately, as a society we are living in a time of sharp divisions—of opinions, perspectives and beliefs—and that has led to decreased civility, increased anger and a ‘new normal’ of offence given and taken,” he wrote.
“Across our nation it is all too common that opinions expressed that differ from another’s—especially those that are controversial—can spark passion and even outrage, often resulting in calls to suppress that speech.
“That simply cannot be allowed to happen.”
Paglia has dismissed the petition as “a publicity stunt” by those who do not understand her ideas.
Speaking to Inside Higher Ed, she also praised Yager’s “eloquent statement affirming academic freedom as a landmark in contemporary education.”