Northwestern University's president said Thursday that he is "troubled and disappointed" that a psychology professor allowed a couple to engage in a sex act involving a motorized sex toy in front of dozens of students, and ordered an investigation.
Hours after accounts of the Feb. 21 class appeared in local newspapers — including the university's defense of Professor John Michael Bailey's decision to allow students to witness the act — Northwestern President Morton Schapiro strongly criticized the lecturer.
"I feel it represented extremely poor judgment on the part of our faculty member," Schapiro said a statement issued by the university in Evanston, Ill.
"I have directed that we investigate fully the specifics of this incident, and also clarify what constitutes appropriate pedagogy," he added.
A guest lecturer had been discussing bondage and sexual fetishes during Bailey's human sexuality class. According to published reports, a couple at the lecture decided that a video the students were watching on the female orgasm was not realistic and gave a live presentation involving the sex toy.
Schapiro said it did not matter that the incident occurred after the class was over, that attendance was voluntarily and that the students were warned of the explicit nature of what they were about to see.
"I have recently learned of the after-class activity associated with Prof. Michael Bailey's Human Sexuality class, and I am troubled and disappointed by what occurred," he said.
"I simply do not believe this was appropriate, necessary or in keeping with Northwestern University's academic mission," he said.
Evanston police say it will be up to the school to determine if the demonstration violated any local ordinances.
The guest lecturer asked the students if they were "ready for a live sex show," student Justin Smith told the Chicago Tribune.
At that point, Faith Kroll took off her clothes and she and Jim Marcus climbed on the stage and, as about 100 students looked on, the pair demonstrated the use of a motorized device with a phallic object attached to it.
The lecturer, Ken Melvoin-Berg, told the newspaper that the students were told about issues such as safety and consent.
"It is probably something I will remember the rest of my life," Smith, a 21-year-old senior, told the Tribune. "I can't say that about my Econ 202 class and the material that I learned there."
The university will pay several hundred dollars to Melvoin-Berg, the co-owner of Weird Chicago Tours, for the lecture. He said neither Kroll nor Marcus — exhibitionists who are more than happy to have people watch them have sex — would be paid.
Kroll said she enjoyed the demonstration and Marcus said it was all designed to teach, not titillate.
"I certainly have no regrets concerning Northwestern students, who have demonstrated that they are open-minded grown-ups rather than fragile children," Bailey told the Tribune.
Bailey did not answer calls to his office Thursday.
But in a recording of last Wednesday's lecture obtained by the Northwestern Daily student newspaper, Bailey is heard saying: "I think that these after-class events are quite valuable. Why? One reason is that I think it helps us understand sexual diversity."
"Sticks and stones may break your bones, but watching naked people on stage doing pleasurable things will never hurt you," he said.
Bailey's class is a popular one at Northwestern, attracting 622 students this semester. After-class panels such as the one last Monday are offered as educational addendums to the class.