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Calls grow for SUNY Fredonia to fire professor after comments go viral

SUNY Fredonia officials canceled all of professor Stephen Kershnar's classes Thursday. He had suggested that adult-child sex is acceptable.

FREDONIA, N.Y. — Outrage continues to grow over a SUNY Fredonia professor's comments suggesting that adult-child sex is acceptable.

The university canceled all of philosophy professor Stephen Kershnar's classes Thursday. 

More than 10,000 people have signed this online petition since Wednesday, calling for SUNY Fredonia to fire Kershnar.

"When I saw the video on Twitter, it was disgusting. It outraged me," said Olivia Sylvester, a sophomore at SUNY Fredonia. 

That's after a YouTube video of his comments on adult-child sex went viral. It was pulled from YouTube on Thursday, with a comment that the video violated community guidelines.

Sylvester started the petition, and to be transparent, is also the daughter of a Channel 2 employee. 

"I'm just not the type of person who can just sit there and do nothing when I go to this campus. I feel the effects of this," Sylvester said. 

SUNY Fredonia announced this week that the university is reviewing the matter.

On Thursday, President Stephen Kolison released this statement: 

"Dear Fredonia community:

I am writing to provide you with an update on the matter involving one of our professors interviewed in a widely shared video podcast. We will continue to investigate this situation. In the meantime, effective immediately and until further notice, the professor is being assigned to duties that do not include physical presence on campus and will not have contact with students while the investigation is ongoing.

Please allow me to reiterate my earlier statement that I view the content of the video as absolutely abhorrent. I cannot stress enough that the independent viewpoints of this individual professor are in no way representative of the values of the SUNY Fredonia campus. 

I appreciate your patience as we make every effort to resolve this matter as expeditiously as possible."

Meanwhile, Kershnar is now being represented by the Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria law firm. 

"There's no criminal anything here. There's no advocacy, there's no facilitation, there's no aiding and abetting. They're just debating these things back and forth as philosophy professors in a college," attorney Paul Cambria said.

"That's going to be the position I'm sure that is taken that this is what you do in a college setting. Some subjects may be uncomfortable or displeasing or whatever but it's just debate."

Fredonia Police are not conducting an investigation but officers there have told 2 On Your Side they told SUNY Fredonia's university police that they are willing to assist if needed. 

2 On Your Side has also been told by students that there will be a protest at 2:30 on Sunday over at Barker Commons in Fredonia. 

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