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UC San Diego Refuses to Cancel Course on Woody Allen Films

University of California, San Diego refused to cancel a course on Woody Allen films despite a petition with over 20,000 signatures.

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The University of California, San Diego is refusing to cancel a course on “The Films of Woody Allen” despite a petition with more than 20,000 signatures.

The UC San Diego Academic Senate announced that they “conclude that canceling or removing this or any other course for the reason that it contains the study of controversial material, or even material widely regarded as morally problematic, would undermine both the value of free inquiry and the associated rights of faculty to engage in such inquiry by choosing their course content” in a press release.

The Senate also defined the subject of the press release as “Academic Freedom at UCSD”.

The petition, which currently has 21,895, was created by theater student Savanah Lyon, who said she “emailed all of the people in charge in an attempt to appeal to their sense of reason, humanity, and morality to stop this class and take it off the books so that no one can teach this class again.” Lyon’s emails have been met with dismissal, unprofessionalism, and dehumanizing rhetoric, according to the petition.

“They believe they have a right to teach this class due to academic freedom. They do not care about the statement it makes to survivors everywhere. They do not care that Woody Allen is on his way out of Hollywood,” Lyon also said in the petition.

“They do not care that the class is less than 1/3 full, making it an unpopular class that has no reason to be taught. They do not care that there are thousands of other directors who could teach the same film basics that they use Woody Allen to teach, directors who haven’t raped seven-year-old girls.”

Dylan Farrow, Woody Allen’s adoptive daughter with Mia Farrow, had accused him of molesting her when she was a seven year old. Allen is currently married to Mia Farrrow’s other adoptive daughter Soon-Yi Previn. He claims the affair with Previn started when she was 21 years old.

In  a Facebook post Lyon said she tried as hard as she could but the odds were stacked up against her from the beginning.

I tried, I tried as hard as I could, and the people around me and across the globe tried as well. The odds were stacked…

Posted by Savanah Lyon on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

“It’s hard to believe what would’ve been enough to get them to remove it from the books. Over 3,700 emails weren’t enough. Over 14,500 signatures weren’t enough. Various news clips and articles weren’t enough. The students weren’t enough, but the way the system works, I have a hard time believing we ever will,” she said.

“I don’t know if free speech and academic freedom will ever stop protecting oppressors. But, we can keep trying. Trying is radical and it will make them jump back every time. You get enough people pushing for change, it’ll start to happen. Don’t be discouraged by this.”

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I'm an aspiring journalist from Istanbul, Turkey and am currently a junior at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. My work has appeared in Visit Seattle, Discover SLU, Washington State Visitors Guide and Ms. Magazine. I'm currently an editorial intern at Psychology Today.

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