FREDONIA, N.Y. (WKBW) — SUNY Fredonia has released a statement in response to a video of a professor's comments on adult-child sex.
The comments were made by Dr. Stephen Kershnar "a distinguished teaching professor in the philosophy department at the State University of New York at Fredonia and an attorney," according to his faculty page on the SUNY Fredonia website.
In a video on the "Brain in a Vat" YouTube channel titled "Sexual Taboos" from January 30, 2022 Kershnar spoke with the hosts for about an hour. At the start of the video a host asks Kershnar if he would like to start with a "thought experiment" which Kershnar responds to with the following:
"Imagine that an adult male wants to have sex with a 12-year-old girl. Imagine that she's a willing participant. A very standard, very widely held view, is there's something deeply wrong about this and it's wrong independent of it being criminalized. It's not obvious to me that it's in fact wrong, I think this is a mistake and I think that exploring why it's a mistake will tell us not only things about adult-child sex and statutory rape, but also about fundamental principals of morality," said Kershnar.
In a video on the Unregistered Podcast YouTube channel titled "Unregistered 142: Stephen Kershnar" from December 5, 2020 Kershnar discusses similar topics with the host for about two hours. It is discussed in the video that Kershnar has written several books, including one titled "Pedophilia and Adult–Child Sex: A Philosophical Analysis" that was originally published in 2015.
In response to Kershnar's comments on "Brain in a Vat" SUNY Fredonia President Stephen H. Kolison released the following statement Tuesday:
"SUNY Fredonia is aware of a video posted online involving one of its professors. The views expressed by the professor are reprehensible and do not represent the values of SUNY Fredonia in any way, shape or form. They are solely the professor's views. The matter is being reviewed."
Marc Guilliod is a freshman at Fredonia and currently in one of Kershnar’s classes, he said comments like this are not a one off.
"I could tell people in the room were uncomfortable,” Guilliod said. “People were putting their head down into their hands, me included."
And he said, classes have not been cancelled yet.
"I don't know if I'm going to attend his class tomorrow [Thursday], I'm assuming a lot of people aren't going to.” Guilliod said.
And Guilliod said, when he chose Fredonia as the place to further his education, this is not what he expected.
"There's a line and you have to draw a line somewhere,” Guilliod said. "I came here for my future. I didn't come here to debate the ethics of having sex with a 16-year-old in a 40-year old’s body."