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U. of Colorado Now Says ‘Deviance’ Course Can Be Taught if Peers OK It

Officials of the University of Colorado at Boulder stepped back a bit on Tuesday from an earlier assertion that a longtime professor of sociology, Patricia A. Adler, would not be permitted to teach her popular “Deviance in U.S. Society” course this spring, The Daily Camera reported. The same day, the leader of the campus’s Faculty Assembly announced that the group would hold an “emergency meeting” with the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to discuss the university’s treatment of Ms. Adler.

Controversy has flared since the weekend, when reports emerged that the university was disciplining Ms. Adler by offering her the choice of early retirement or staying on but not teaching the course this spring. The course features a lecture on prostitution that is presented as a skit, with undergraduate teaching assistants portraying different types of sex workers. Ms. Adler has said she has taught the course, and used the skit, every semester for about 20 years and until this fall had heard no complaints. But after human-resources officials observed the lecture this fall, she was told that it was problematic in several ways and a potential violation of the university’s sexual-harassment policy.

According to The Daily Camera’s report, however, Mark K. Miller, a university spokesman, said on Tuesday afternoon that Ms. Adler might be able to teach the course this spring. That could happen, Mr. Miller said, if Ms. Adler submitted the course to a review by a group of her peers in sociology and perhaps other disciplines at Boulder, “and that review resulted in an OK of the course and its materials and techniques, or recommended structural changes acceptable to her.”

There was no word Tuesday night on whether Ms. Adler would consider requesting such a review.

The emergency faculty meeting with the dean of arts and sciences, Steven R. Leigh, is set for Wednesday morning. It was announced by Paul S. Chinowsky, chair of the Faculty Assembly and an associate professor of civil, environmental, and architectural engineering, in an email to faculty members. The meeting will allow for questions and discussion, Mr. Chinowsky said.

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