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The University of Cincinnati reportedly pulled back on a reprimand for a gender studies professor who had failed a student over her use of the term “biological woman” in a project proposal.
Professor Melanie Nipper failed student Olivia Krolczyk’s assignment — a proposal for a final project in her Gender in Popular Culture class — after which Ashley Currier, the head of the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies reprimanded Nipper and ordered her to attend free speech training.
“To prevent any further violation of [the free speech] policy, you must complete training on the requirements of the Campus Free Speech Policy. Through the end of Academic Year 2024/2025, you must submit all syllabi to … me at least two weeks prior to the beginning of classes for review and approval,” the reprimand read in part, and reminded Nipper that further violations of university policy could result in her losing her position.
Nipper appealed the decision, however, saying that any “restriction on harmful speech” was “necessary to ensure a safe learning environment” and that “the topic itself was inappropriate as it targeted trans women as a source of oppression for cis women in sports.”
“Additionally, as the class has students that identify as gender non-conforming and/or trans, I felt it was necessary to educate her regarding inclusive language to ensure a safe learning environment for other students,” Nipper added.
After a meeting between Nipper and university administrators, the school determined that the reprimand had been “issued in error” and would be removed from the professor’s personnel file. She will still be required to attend the free speech training and submit syllabi to the head of her department for review.
“UC is affirming that professors will have no consequences for failing students with dissenting opinions,” Krolczyk said in a statement after learning that the school had chosen to rescind the reprimand. “They will not uphold a student’s rights to free speech and will take no action to ensure that the educators hired are acting in a professional manner.”