A University of Cincinnati women’s gender studies professor has been ordered to complete free speech training after she failed a student for referring to non-trans female athletes as “biological women,” according to a report.
Adjunct instructor Melanie Nipper was formally reprimanded for giving student Olivia Krolczyk zero out of 20 points on her Women’s Gender Studies in Pop Culture final project for using what the teacher called the “exclusionary” term, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
Krolczyk took to TikTok in May to share her outrage and confusion in a video that went viral, prompting a response from the university weeks later.
“Please note that this is to be considered a formal reprimand for your actions. A copy of this letter will be placed in your permanent records,” the university told Nipper, according to the June 14 document obtained by the Enquirer.
“It is also understood that any other violations of UC policy may be subject to further disciplinary actions up to and including termination. You are reminded that as an unrepresented, unclassified ‘at will’ employee your employment may be terminated with or without cause.”
In addition to completing training about UC’s free speech policy, she must also submit her future syllabi for the upcoming school year for approval.
In contesting the discipline, she wrote that her “restriction on harmful speech” was “necessary to ensure a safe learning environment in the course discussions and for the pedagogical purpose of teaching introductory WGSS theory,” the newspaper reported.
The professor added that she “felt it was necessary to educate her regarding inclusive language to ensure a safe learning environment for other students in the course discussion boards.”
For a final project, Nipper asked her students to pick a topic related to feminism . Krolczyk chose to research the changes female athletes have experienced throughout history and the rights and opportunities they have been awarded and fought for in athletics.
Her project discussed topics from the first woman to compete in the Olympic Games to the fight that female athletes like Riley Gaines are making for proposed changes to Title IX.
The chemistry major said her project ended by sharing how “these rights and opportunities are being threatened by allowing men to compete in women’s sports.”
Nipper told the sophomore that the term “biological women,” which she used in her proposal, are “not allowed in this course as they further reinforce heteronormativity.”
“Please reassess your topic and edit it to focus on women’s rights (not just “females”) and I’ll regrade,” she wrote to Krolczyk.
“How am I supposed to do my project if I can’t use the term ‘biological women?’” Krolczyk questioned in her TikTok video.
The reprimand was handed down by Ashley Currier, head of the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at UC, according to the Enquirier.
Nipper responded June 19 with a request to appeal the sanction and was on campus on Thursday to discuss, the paper reported.
She declined to comment, but said that the culture war has impacted educators’ ability to teach.
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