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Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 16:35 GMT
Campus interruptus for sex course
Berkeley
Berkeley has a famous liberal tradition
A Californian university has suspended a course in male sexuality after reports of student orgies and trips to strip clubs.

The University of California at Berkeley is investigating claims of inappropriate behaviour during a student-led course that explored male sexuality.

The course was part of the university's progressive "democratic education" scheme, in which students can teach each other and pursue subjects which they feel of personal relevance.

Concerns about the course were raised in a student newspaper, The Daily Californian, which contained allegations that students had taken part in an orgy.

Photographs

There were also accounts of trips to a strip club and parties at which students took sexually-explicit pictures of each other.

The course, which provided credits towards graduation, had a number of guest speakers scheduled, including a porn actress and a representative of a sex shop.

University authorities have now shut the course pending an inquiry into the alleged events - which were described as "not part of the approved course curriculum".

"Any activity that happened outside of class would be optional," said a university spokesperson.

Dumbing down

The claims have sparked a lively debate in the student newspaper, with some letters condemning the course as the ultimate in dumbing down, while others have argued that it is an honest attempt at understanding an important subject.

"Liberal universities have completed the descent into lunacy," wrote one angry correspondent.

But a student who had taken the course attacked "flimsy, sensationalistic" attacks on an "educational gem".

"Yes, one of the parties last semester ended with a few folks having a sexual experience. What's wrong with that? Had it been an anthropology party that turned lascivious, I doubt it would have made the front page of The Daily Californian," said the 27-year-old correspondent.

There was also a letter from a course co-ordinator who condemned the coverage as "a bunch of lies".

"It does make for some great reading, I'm sure, but it is very inaccurate. We do have an end of the semester party where we go out to a strip club," the letter writer continued.

"During the course of the evening the club allows for anyone in the audience to get up and do a dance for the crowd. Some of the students did get up and do their dance, taking off clothes as part of it. This is not illegal, either. It was actually a lot of fun for all."

The newspaper's editorial predicted that in future much closer attention would be paid to the educational credentials of such courses.

See also:

05 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Thais to master sex
07 Aug 99 | Education
Students choose sex over study
21 Sep 99 | Education
Sex education call for students
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