Sex has overtaken the conversation at Lyndon State College. After a series of sex columns in the school’s newspaper, The Critic, Elizabeth Norris, professor of fine and performing arts, sent a school wide e-mail asking for columnist Jordan Royer to be expelled.
“I find it rather humorous, because sex is an issue students talk about and engage in every day,” said Nicole McAllister, a Castleton student whose boyfriend attends Lyndon. “Why not publicize it and get students to pick up the paper and read it?”
Norris claimed Royer’s words in his ‘Holy Sheet’s’ column represent the college and go against its “basic principles.” The column has included discussion of the use of pornography to masturbate and ice to arouse sexual partners.
“We all have a responsibility to each other to maintain a standard of dignity and respect toward all of the others in our community,” she said in her e-mail.
Norris’ reaction to the column created enough controversy to start a message board on The Critic’s Web site as well as a Facebook group called “Save Holy Sheet.”
Some responses supported Royer’s right of free speech while attacking Norris’ own as well as her delivery.
“It didn’t upset me,” Royer said, stating that Norris has the same right of speech as he does.
Norris claims that she was not attacking his free speech, but was concerned with the “vehicle” he used since the paper “impacts the entire community.”
Norris said she was concerned that others outside the college community would see the column stating a case where an elementary school teacher took a stack of The Critic to her class to show them college level writing.
“They trusted us as an institution,” Norris said. “Damage was done.”
Others agreed with Norris that Royer’s comments are over the top.
Tricia Pennypacker posted on the message board that while she is glad The Critic allows its writers to have their freedom, Royer used “careless liberty” and should put “wisdom behind [his] controversy – or even humor.”
Even the faculty advisor, Dan Williams, admitted having issues with some of the columns’ content, though not to the column itself.
Deb Choma, Castleton’s nurse famous for her “Sex with Deb” talks, was dumbfounded when she heard about the incident.
“It’s all about the students,” she said, “not about the faculty. If a student or students complain, then it should be addressed.”
She said as long as the column is written in a healthy and educational way, she saw nothing wrong with having a sex column, though she didn’t see the need for one at Castleton.
No action will be taken against Royer, and the newspaper has no plans to pull the column.
“Over the last two weeks, it’s become pretty popular,” Royer said. “To stop running it would be foolish. We’ll run it as long as people read it.”
One thing that both sides agree on is that the controversy sparked a great deal of debate.
“It’s an important discussion,” Norris said. “I don’t know where the line is, but I know faculty can show they stand for something important.”
Williams also said the discussions raised by the column were interesting.
“I’m glad it came up,” he said.