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SUNY Fredonia students call for school to take more action in response to a viral video of professor

“I feel like the whole pro discrimination of women in the workplace makes me extremely uncomfortable and the whole topic he has been discussing."
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Posted at 12:31 AM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-07 00:31:30-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Several SUNY Fredonia students stood their ground Sunday afternoon to have their voices heard after seeing a video of philosophy professor Dr. Stephen Kershnar.

They say he has made some inappropriate comments.

"When I was reading his essays on the age of consent and thinking that underaged sex and sex with girls who are twelve are okay and shouldn't be thought of or questioned because you're taking away the right from people who wanna do it. I think that was the breaking point for me," says junior photography major, Tralle Cotter.

Others say that's not all.

"I feel like the whole pro discrimination of women in the workplace makes me extremely uncomfortable and the whole topic he has been discussing and discussing before it's just so unfortunate and it makes me feel uncomfortable being in a school here where they allow a professor with such views like that," says Brianna Howard, junior journalism major.

The school canceled all of Kershnar's classes and released a statement saying:

"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."

A student from Kershnar's class says what has surfaced doesn't sit well.

"It has been picking a personal toll on me," Janet Fornieri, a sophomore majoring in philosophy, says. "And it has become a little bit unhealthy, and that's just the way it is."

Some students say they're worried about the trauma of others.

"I'm kind of worried about people with the trauma and how it's going to impact them," Daris Davis, a senior majoring in social work. I wonder how it's going to impact them if they don't fire the professor."

The gathering organizer says she has hopes of her school taking serious action.

"I hope they will remove him, maybe I'm optimistic or I want to trust this school," says Olivia Sylvester, a sophomore majoring in mathematics. But I want to be able to love this college, and I want to do it, and I want to be proud that I came from here, so I want to trust they're going to do the right thing."

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education [thefire.org] and the Academic Freedom Alliance [academicfreedom.org] sent public letters to SUNY Fredonia on Professor Kershnar's behalf:

"Kershnar’s speech is doubtlessly offensive to some (especially those exposed to it shorn of context), and many have—exercising their own First Amendment rights—made their objections known to the university. However, whether speech is protected by the First Amendment is “a legal, not moral, analysis,” and no person—student, colleague, administrator, donor, or lawmaker—holds a veto over freedom of expression, least of all those who would answer objectionable speech with threats of violence."