No fewer than seven faculty members and other employees at a community college amid the suburban sprawl of New Jersey complained after they were forced to sit through a faculty member’s rendition of part of “The Vagina Monologues” at a staff-wide event.
The mandatory gathering of some 300 professors, bureaucrats and staffers occurred approximately two weeks ago at Mercer County Community College, reports Inside Higher Ed.
School spokesman Jim Gardner said all full-time profs and administrators were “expected” to attend the end-of-the-year assembly, which was a celebration of the highlights of Mercer’s academic year.
One highlight of the gala event was a production of “The Vagina Monologues” on campus back in March.
“The Vagina Monologues” is a series of soliloquies designed to be read by women. Initially, playwright Eve Ensler performed the entire show herself. It is now common to have a number of women perform the monologues. Also, actors choose their monologues, so each piece isn’t necessarily used in a given production.
A sampling of the monologues on offer includes “My Angry Vagina,” “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy” and “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could.”
The employees who filed complaints perhaps did not expect to hear a professor prattle about vaginas in candid terms at a mandatory school meeting.
Mercer officials apologized for the “Vagina Monologues” reading at the compulsory assembly but affirmed the school’s commitment to free speech.
“As a college we strongly encourage freedom of speech and expression of new ideas and have never censored or required prior review of the content that’s developed by faculty and staff leaders,” Gardner told Inside Higher Ed.
Some at the 13,000-student school saw no need to apologize, though.
“It fascinates me how adults at an institute of higher learning are so bothered by the mention of a vagina,” psychology professor Heather Jennings told Inside Higher Ed.
Productions of “The Vagina Monologues” at American colleges and universities end up in the news pretty frequently.
In October 2013, a joint staging of the episodic play by Columbia University and Barnard College outlawed the vaginas of white students because, organizers said, white women and their vaginas had been over-represented in past performances. (RELATED: White Vaginas Banned For Ivy League Production Of ‘Vagina Monologues’)
Last May, members of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority chapter at the University of Wisconsin – Madison allegedly disrupted a performance of the play by banging on windows and making at least one impressively bawdy gesture. (Wisconsin Sorority Girls Disrupt Performance Of ‘The Vagina Monologues’)