Student wins compensation because her module was too "sex obsessed"
A university in Wales has been told to pay £750 to a student who complained that the teaching on her creative writing degree was too "sex-obsessed".
Angie Marynicz, a mature student at the University of Wales Trinity St David complained in a letter to the University about a sex-obsessed lecturer who announced that "all literature is about sex because sex is the most important thing in the world" at the start of one of his modules.
Peculiar obsession with sex at Trinity St David
Angie, 60, wrote in her letter that she was worried about the effect the sex obsessed teaching would have on younger students.
"Within the degree course were poetry modules with the Head of School being the lecturer. At the beginning of one of his modules, he announced that 'All literature is about sex because sex is the most important thing in the world'." She said.
"This is a quote from a woman named Blanche Bachelor, I believe, and I found it a very worrying statement to make in front of impressionable/vulnerable young adults when it is clearly not true. The majority of written word is not sexual but it seems that there is a most peculiar obsession with sex at Trinity St David."
Angie also complained that the lecturer was insensitive in dealing with issues of abuse and incest, seeming to find the topics hilarious.
"One of the compulsory modules for the BA (Hons) Creative Writing course was Critical and Cultural Theory."
"The first lecture for that module was listening to the lecturer read aloud the Edgar Allen Poe short story The Black Cat, which is a graphic account of domestic abuse where the abuser puts an axe through his wife's head."
"As he finished reading the story, he giggled which I found very upsetting and offensive. I emailed him twice to tell him so, to which I received no reply."
"The second lecture in that module was the Freudian idea that Shakespeare's Hamlet had an Oedipus complex ie child sex abuse/incest. I was told by the Head of School, in no uncertain terms, that this was good art and they would carry on teaching it as such."
Dr Paul Wright BA, MA, PhD, FHEA, whose publications include:
"The Greediest Eye and Fondling Nips: Keats, Worsdworth and the Clinician’s gaze and touch" in Romanticism and Victorinism on the Net (2008).
Angie initially complained to the University about the course, asking to be allowed to avoid the lectures and just hand in the written work, but was told by the University that this was not possible.
She then took it to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA), who upheld her complaint and asked the University to pay her £750 compensation.
The OIA said the university "should have considered whether it was reasonable to require Mrs Marynicz to attend the Critical and Cultural lectures in view of the content and delivery of the module which Mrs Marynicz had difficulties with."
However, they did not uphold her complaint about the content of the course, on the grounds of academic freedom.
A University spokesman said: “The University wishes to stress that the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for Higher Education found the student’s complaint “not justified” in all of its main points, including those relating to course content and delivery."
"The complaint was deemed partly justified solely in relation to attendance for particular lectures and, in accordance with the recommendation of the OIA, a sum of £750 was paid to the student and accepted as ‘full and final settlement’ of the complaint."
"The OIA noted that the Academic School, Student Services, Learning Support, the Mental Health team and the Academic Office endeavoured to support the student and this included providing help in submitting the complaint and the request for suspension from the course."
"The University believes unreservedly that it has acted in good faith towards the student and has conducted a thorough investigation in accordance with its complaints procedure”.
Mrs Marynicz, who lives in Carmarthenshire, said she told the head of the school she found Dr Paul Wright's teaching "ignorant and callous" and the course "very distressing".
She is unlikely to use the £750 compensation money to buy his book "The Greediest Eye and Fondling Nips: Keats, Worsdworth and the Clinician’s gaze and touch" in Romanticism and Victorinism on the Net (2008).