Less than 48 hours after videos of a philosophy professor went viral on social media, the State University of New York at Fredonia took action to remove him from campus and the classroom.
In a Twitter post on Thursday afternoon, university president Stephen H. Kolison announced disciplinary action against Dr. Stephen Kershnar. “Effective immediately and until further notice, the professor is assigned to duties that do not include his physical presence on campus and (he) will not have contact with students while the investigation is ongoing. .”
On Tuesday afternoon, video clips of the outspoken and controversial professor began to surface regarding his thoughts on pedophilia and adult-child sex.
Kershnar’s comments provoked a backlash against him and the university. One of Kershnar’s appearances is on the podcast “Not registered with Thaddeus Russell”, the other is on a video on the Libs of Tik Tok Twitter feed.
“It is not obvious to me that this is in fact a mistake. I think that’s a mistake. And I think exploring why that’s wrong will teach us not only about adult-child sex and statutory rape, but also about fundamental principles of morality,” he says in the videos.
Kolison said the university is continuing to investigate the situation involving Kershnar, a former contributor to OBSERVER’s opinion pages.
“Please allow me to reiterate my previous statement that I consider the content of the video to be absolutely abhorrent,” said the president. “I cannot stress enough that the independent views of this individual professor are in no way representative of the values of the SUNY Fredonia campus.”
Kershnar is a full professor at the university. According to the American Association of University Professors, this designation “is to safeguard academic freedom, which is necessary for all who teach and conduct research in higher education. When faculty members may lose their positions because of their speech, publications, or research findings, they cannot properly discharge their core responsibilities to advance and transmit knowledge.
Besides this incident, Kershnar had other controversies during his college career. In 2006, he was embroiled in a disagreement with then-President Dennis L. Hefner over a student conduct policy. Kershnar claimed it cost him a promotion in reports on thefire.org, which is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
Its mission statement, according to its website, is to defend and support the individual rights of students and faculty members of American colleges and universities.