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Professor Removed From Course Over Vulgarity Waiver

January 6, 2016

Laurentian University, in Canada, has removed professor Michael Persinger, a neuroscientist, from teaching an introductory psychology course because of a waiver he asks students to sign over his use of vulgar language in class, CBC News reported. The waiver lists some of the words -- including obscenities and some slurs -- that Persinger says come up in class. He says he's been using the waiver for years, that it is a teaching tool and that it attracts students to the course. The university has not detailed its objections to the waiver, but issued this statement: "It was recently brought to the dean's attention that a Statement of Understanding issued to students by Dr. Persinger was not in compliance with Laurentian University policies."

The Laurentian University Faculty Association has filed a grievance in the case, saying that Persinger's academic freedom has been violated. Anis Farah, president of the union, said academic freedom "includes freedom of teaching, research and discussion, no matter how controversial, without reprisal or censorship."

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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