On February 28, a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania was forbidden to continue attending a religious studies class he needs to graduate after he spoke out during a women’s only commenting period, questioning professor Alison Downie and her video’s claims regarding the “reality of white male privilege.”
Lake Ingle said he objected to the abuse of power by the instructor in her use of materials and inherent authority to attempt to coerce a desired opinion.
According to Ingle, the religious studies class was forced to watch the following Ted-Talk video on February 28 featuring Paula Stone, a self described transgendered individual, who gave examples of “mansplaining,” “male privilege,” and other evidence of alleged systematic sexism.
If you’re a man, at one point or another you’ve probably thought to yourself, “I will never understand women!” And if you’re a woman, “what’s wrong with men?!” But your gender is all you’ve ever known, so how could you understand? As a transgender woman, Paula Stone Williams has lived on both sides, “and the differences are massive!”
On conclusion of the video, the instructor “opened the floor to WOMEN ONLY. Barring men from speaking until the women in the class have had their chance to speak,” Ingle wrote.
After a period of time, which Ingle claims to be about “thirty seconds or so” passed and no woman had yet decided to speak, Ingle stated he “took this opportunity to point out the official view of biologists who claim there are only two biological genders.” He stated that he also debunked the “gender wage gap.” On conclusion of his comments, the class returned to normalcy.
Speaking to Campus Reform, Ingle stated that he felt that the floor become open after a protracted period of time, “The floor was opened, and not a single woman spoke. Thirty seconds or so passed and still no woman had spoken. So, I decided it was permissible for me to enter the conversation, especially because I felt the conversation itself was completely inappropriate in its structure.”
He also said that he objected to the mischaracterization of anecdotal information as reality by the transgender individual in the Ted Talk video. “I objected to the use of the anecdotal accounts of one woman’s experience to begin a discussion in which they were considered reality. It was during my objection that Dr. Downie attempted to silence me because I am not a woman.”
On returning to class the next day, Ingle met with his instructor. She had assembled a several documents that he was to review and decide on how he would like to proceed in the classroom. He was informed that he was no longer allowed to attend this class until he went before the university’s Academic Integrity Board to decide his ultimate fate.
One of the instructor’s documents demanded he issue an apology to the class for his behavior, in order to be restored to class. It also stipulated that he would be required to be silent while others in the classroom described their feelings during the confrontation that occurred between the professor and Ingle on February 28.
“On 3-8, Lake will begin class with an apology to the class for his behavior and then listen in silence as the professor and/or any student who wishes to speak shares how he or she felt during Lake’s disrespectful and disruptive outbursts on 2-28,” the document read.
In a Facebook post describing the incident, Lake Ingle was defiant and stated that he will be defending himself in front of the school’s Academic Integrity Board.
“Later this week I will be defending myself and my FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS in front of the Academic Integrity Board (AIB) of the Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania (IUP) against allegations of Classroom Conduct violations.”
“The decision made by the AIB that day will determine whether I will be able to continue participating in my full course load, as well as graduate this May as scheduled,” Ingle’s statement read, adding, “This is not transgender, woman’s rights, or wage issue. This is about free speech and the constant misuse of intellectual power in universities.”
The statement was deleted shortly after he retained legal counsel.
Who is Professor Alison Downie?
Alison Downie submitted a guest article for the website “Feminism and Religion” on January 10, describing her experience with a group of young people proselytizing for their church.
“On this particular Sunday, I happened to drive past a non-denominational church in the small college town where I live,” she wrote, “on this day, a group of enthusiastic church goers gathered on the sidewalk, advertising the service about to begin with handmade posters.”
“They appeared to be mostly young, and I imagined they were probably students at the university where I teach,” Downie added.
“I glanced their way, wondering if I would recognize a student from one of my classes.” One of them then shouted to Downie that she should “SMILE!” because it was Sunday.
Downie said she was so enraged by the comment that she, “wanted to slam on the brakes, storm into that cluster of shiny happy young people and throw down a Molotov cocktail of sudden death, mental illness, tragedy, and suffering of all kinds into their church street party.”
She continued, “I felt slapped in the face, stunned, and then . . . enraged. NO! I will NOT smile because it’s Sunday. And who are you to tell me I should? Who are you to imply that if I do not smile, I somehow don’t measure up to your understanding of what faith or salvation is?”
She also gave insight into her own behavior in the classroom and may explain her interaction with Lake Ingle on February 28. She claims that she is hyper-vigilant against “shaming exchanges” where one student shames another, which Ingle was allegedly attempting to do by quoting scientific fact.
In a classroom, in my professional life, I’m perhaps hyper-vigilant in preventing potentially shaming exchanges. Student feedback tells me my Religious Studies classes are safe spaces. Yet I keep myself safe by operating only out of my intellect, employing analysis and critique in the third person.
In the classroom or while writing an article, I know how to keep myself safe. I patrol very clear boundaries. And over several decades, I have developed effective strategies for replenishing myself when shame overtakes me in situations beyond my power to orchestrate.
The article has been updated