FREDONIA, N.Y. — SUNY Fredonia released a statement about a professor that came under fire last week after allegedly making controversial comments during a podcast on YouTube.
In the YouTube video, Dr. Stephen Kershnar, a philosophy professor, seemed to suggest that sex between adults and children could be acceptable.
On Tuesday night, the university said in the statement released, "The Fredonia University Senate is committed to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech," and went on to say, "We condemn Dr. Kershnar's statements, which have the potential to normalize attitudes and behaviors that cause great emotional, psychological, and cognitive damage to survivors of child sexual abuse."
Fredonia University Senate full statement:
The Fredonia University Senate is committed to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech. These principles are the foundation for scholarly and creative activities, higher education, and democratic governance. Academic freedom also confers responsibilities, including fidelity to evidence, accuracy, and intellectual honesty. Students, faculty, and community members have reacted strongly to Dr. Stephen Kershnar’s comments on adult sex with children in a video that originally appeared on the “Brain in a Vat” YouTube channel, clips from which have appeared on various social media platforms. Unfortunately, Dr. Kershnar’s comments have been linked to the University. As a governing body of the university, we must, therefore, respond to his statements.
The Fredonia University Senate Executive Committee condemns Dr. Kershnar’s statements on adult sex with children, finding them morally reprehensible and irresponsible, even as we recognize his right to make these statements. As faculty, we have the obligation to educate our students to become skilled, connected, creative, and responsible global citizens and professionals. Fredonia faculty are mandatory child abuse reporters and many of our students are training to be teachers, who are mandated child abuse, reporters. We condemn Dr. Kershnar’s statements, which have the potential to normalize attitudes and behaviors that cause great emotional, psychological, and cognitive damage to survivors of child sexual abuse. Dr. Kershnar’s statements do not represent the values and ideals of the Fredonia University Senate.
The university reassigned Kershner to other duties last week.