Wisconsin Chancellor Receives Public Rebuke Over Porn Star Invite

Wisconsin Chancellor Receives Public Rebuke Over Porn Star Invite

The University of Wisconsin is facing scrutiny after the chancellor of the La Crosse campus was “reprimanded” for inviting porn star Nina Hartley to speak on campus. The Wisconsin University System’s president “questioned the judgment” of UW-LaCrosse chancellor Joe Gow after he invited Hartley to come and deliver a lecture during “Free Speech Week.” The 59-year-old adult actress was reportedly paid $5,000 for the appearance.

During the presentation, Hartley shared her perspective on the pornography industry and whether or not her work was “acceptable” or “fantasy.” 

Coming on the heels of the ongoing sexual abuse scandal at Michigan State University, throughout which the “judgment” of many leaders at MSU was repeatedly called into question, no Big 10 rival school really wanted to see their name in the headlines and their faculty’s judgment being questioned. Especially about a topic that was certain to get lots of attention. UW officials surely believe Gow should have known better, no matter what his intentions may have been. 

Since the event drew the ire of students and faculty, Gow has apologized, though he called the resulting media attention “sensationalistic,” implying that the reaction was overblown, though he did offer to reimburse the university the cost of Hartley’s speaking fee.

UW System President Ray Cross told the media he was “upset” after learning about Hartley’s paid visit to a campus under his charge. He has since said publicly he plans to “launch an audit” into the discretionary expenditures made by Gow, who is scheduled to receive a salary increase in December. Cross referred to Gow’s decision as “poor judgment and a lack of responsible oversight with respect to the use of state funds…”

Gow, though apologetic, defended his actions at the time of the invite, saying he wanted to bring in a “person with a very different perspective from our own…” and “someone who wouldn’t be hateful… (Hartley) seemed like a person who had a life experience dramatically different than the rest of us…” 

In the meantime, this is just one more in a series of stories that has given ammunition to those in the media and in the public who are calling for a major overhaul of the entire US public university system. Critics say the schools’ leadership is out of step with most of America and focused on issues and topics that either is an affront to most Americans or unworthy of an institute of higher learning.

In this way, this single incident is a spark that could ignite another round of this heated and ongoing public debate about the role and the purpose of higher education in America.

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