The Racquet

Effects on UWL after the Nina Hartley event

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Effects on UWL after the Nina Hartley event

Picture Credit: La Crosse Tribune

Picture Credit: La Crosse Tribune

Picture Credit: La Crosse Tribune

Picture Credit: La Crosse Tribune

Chantal Zimmermann, Features Reporter

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Joe Gow, the Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse paid adult film actor and sex educator Nina Hartley $5,000, from student fees, to speak to students about adult entertainment and sexuality on Nov. 1. When asked to make a statement for The Racquet, Joe Gow refused to comment on the event.

According to The La Crosse Tribune, Chancellor Joe Gow said, “We promoted it extensively on campus, on our digital signs, and we felt that was the best way to do it.”

However, many UWL students were unaware that this event was taking place until after the event had commenced. Roughly 70 students and staff gathered at the event in Centennial Hall. This stirred up a controversial topic among students, faculty, and parents of UWL students.

“I didn’t see it. I heard a couple rumors about it, so I wasn’t exactly sure that it was happening. I heard that she was a porn star and I do not agree with the idea of pornography,” said UWL Junior Jared Kronback

Kronback continued by saying, “I feel that instead of being shady about it and not talking a whole lot about it, he should have made it more public and known to the students that he was bringing the speaker in.”

Unlike most events that occur on campus, the event was not displayed on UWL’s event calendar. There were limited digital signs displaying the event hosting Nina Hartley.

“I thought it was an interesting topic and it is definitely an important topic that should be talked about, but I don’t believe he went about doing it the right way.” said UWL Junior Sarah Daentl.

As soon as news of the event began to spread, UWL received a lot of media attention from news sources and people outside the UWL community. In response to this coverage, Joe Gow emailed students on Nov. 12 apologizing for the attention that UWL received.

In the email, Gow stated, “I admit that in inviting her to present at our university I was naive about this possibility and have learned much from it.” Gow continued to say that he is going to personally reimburse the university for the costs of bringing Nina Hartley to campus.

According to The La Crosse Tribune, the funds originally used to cover the former porn stars’ appearance were coming from student fees.

Daentl said, “Because it comes from our tuition, he should have asked us, ‘who would you like to come talk on campus?’ That could have been anything free speech related.”

“He should have taken our opinion into consideration, especially if he wanted us to show up to the event. She obviously is a cool person to have, but he didn’t even ask for anyone’s opinion and then just used our money for it.” Daentl added, “I am glad he is compensating us for it and I hope he has learned from this.”

UWL students are not the only ones upset with the choice to bring Nina Hartley to campus. An anonymous source said, “I work on campus. We call and ask alumni, friends of the university, and parents to see if they would help support scholarships for students. We had a lot of people turning it down.”

This UWL Funds employee went on to say, “They would not make a gift because of this. It is currently not who is at the school, a lot of people could be upset by this.” UWL declined to give a statement in regards to donors refusing to donate in response to the Nina Hartley event.

According to The La Crosse Tribune, Nina Hartley has appeared at prestigious schools, such as, Harvard and Dartmouth. They stated in an article that Hartley is “a longtime board member for the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit advocating for sexual freedom as a human right.”

“I think, although, she was a porn star, she did talk about sexual awareness, which is a good thing, because we all should be aware of it. I believe that our school should have gone a better route in taking action about free speech week,” said Kronback.

In order to settle the negative feedback, Joe Gow decided to bring a speaker from the non-profit group, Fight the New Drug. According to Joe Gow, this will be another way he hopes to promote free expression on campus.

The inclusion of this organization has made students, like Jared Kronback, feel better about the situation. In a follow up email to the students on Nov. 19, Joe Gow stated that in creating arrangements for Fight the New Drug to come to campus he found that, “arrangements had already been made by a UWL student group, CRU.”

Joe Gow has promised to let the students know when the exact date of the event will be held as soon as he aware and assures the students that the event is, “keeping with the UW System’s Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression policy.”

However, other students are not sharing Kronback’s opinion. Daentl commented, “I understand that he doesn’t want to talk a lot about it. He just seems like he is kind of dodging the bullet that he loaded in his own gun.”

“I understand the reason behind it, but him talking about it isn’t actually making me feel any better, because he is not even owning up to the fact that he probably didn’t do it the best way he could have,” Daentl said.

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About the Writer
Chantal Zimmermann, Features Reporter

 

Year at UWL: Junior

Hometown: Racine, WI

Major: English: Emphasis in Writing and Rhetoric

Minor: German and Digital Media...

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