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Cornell Student Strips During Thesis Presentation To Protest Professor

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A senior at Cornell University stripped down to her bra and underwear while presenting her thesis to protest her professor saying her clothing was inappropriate the week before.

Letitia Chai said she took the opportunity to stand up against “oppressive beliefs” during her Acting in Public: Performance in Everyday Life class, according to a Facebook Live video of the event.

The demonstration came days after her professor, Rebekah Maggor, questioned whether the denim cutoff shorts Chai was wearing during a test run of the presentation were too short.

Chai made a Facebook post which went viral about the incident, saying she was wearing a blue button down and cutoff jean shorts when her professor questioned her clothing. Her account of the incident was reported by DailyMail:

‘The first thing that the professor said to me was “is that really what you would wear?”‘ Chai said.

‘The professor proceeded to tell me, in front of my whole class, that I was inviting the male gaze away from the content of my presentation and onto my body.

‘She said I was making a statement by wearing my outfit. I told her that I sure as hell wouldn’t change my statement to make her or anyone else feel more comfortable.’

She said her professor later came out of the room and asked her what her mother would think of her clothing. Chai said she responded: ‘My mom is a feminist, gender and sexuality studies professor. She’s fine with my shorts.’

Professor Maggor responded by telling the Cornell Sun, “‘I do not tell my students what to wear, nor do I define for them what constitutes appropriate dress. I ask them to reflect for themselves and make their own decisions.”

Following the reaction to Chai’s Facebook post, 11 of the 14 students in the class issued a joint statement saying her comments didn’t accurately reflect what happened in the room.

via DailyMail

The students said that while Maggor’s comment had an ‘error in phrasing’ the main point was to note ‘the importance of professionalism in certain public speaking situations’.

They said the professor apologized repeatedly for her initial word choice and agreed that the ‘notion of ‘short shorts’ on women carry a lot of cultural and political baggage’.


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