The UC San Diego Academic Senate Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) affirmed the continuation of the class titled The Films of Woody Allen on Friday, February 16, on the grounds of upholding the principles of academic freedom.
The announcement came two weeks after Savanah Lyon, a third year transfer Theatre major from Marshall College, created a viral petition that garnered over 21,000 signatures from people around the world in hopes of getting the class removed from the theatre department curriculum.
“This is wrong. This class is wrong,” said Lyon. “It sends an awful message to survivors and to society that even if you hurt others, even if you yourself are a predator, as long as you are talented, that doesn’t matter. We have to say no to letting predators, rapists, harassers, and sexual assaulters get any sort of power or platform because that just continues the cycle of abuse.”
On Feb. 16, CAF announced that it would defend the right to teach the class to “maintain the right of all faculty to participate in the principles of academic freedom.”
“We conclude that cancelling or removing this or any other course for the reason that it contains the study of controversial material […] would undermine both the value of free inquiry and the associated rights of faculty to engage in such inquiry,” wrote Chair Farrell Ackerman and Vice Chair Robert Horowitz of the UCSD Academic Senate.
On Tuesday following the Senate decision, UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla was interviewed by the San Diego Union-Tribune as to what he would have done if Lyon asked him to cancel one of his own classes.
“I would have told her to move on and get out of my classroom,” Chancellor Khosla said. “I get to teach in my class.”
In response to the Senate decision, Lyon feels that the University acted as she expected and said that she will continue to advocate for students to be heard by the institution.
“I will keep fighting but no matter what, a message has been sent,” said Lyon. “Students deserve to have their voices heard, and we should have as much say in what we learn as [the faculty does in] deciding what to teach.”
Matthew Rom-Toribio is a staff writer at The Triton.