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UC San Diego Will Not Cancel Woody Allen Films Course Despite Petition

US film director Woody Allen walks at Piazza della Pace (Peace's square) in central Rome during the filming of his new movie, The Bop Decameron, on July 25, 2011. 'Bop Decameron' is a romantic comedy based on Italian poet Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron -- a famous 14th-century collection of bawdy tales. …
TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images

The University of California, San Diego, is refusing to act on the demands of a petition calling for the university to cancel a course on the films of Woody Allen.

A petition with more than 21,000 signatures requested that the University of California-San Diego cancel a class on the films of Woody Allen in light of the accusations of sexual abuse that have been lodged against him.

In 2014, Dylan Farrow, Woody’s adoptive daughter, detailed the alleged abuse in an open letter published in the New York Times.

What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.

UCSD published a statement last week, announcing that the Woody Allen course would continue as originally planned.

We conclude that cancelling 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. These rights are set out in the Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and include the right of faculty to decide what to teach in the classroom, unimpeded by administrative, commercial, governmental or other pressures.

The petition was created by UCSD theater student Savannah Lyon who explained that she hoped that the course would be canceled permanently. Future students should not “have to see that pedophile glorified” in the classroom, Lyon wrote.

“I have 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 wrote on the petition site. “I have been met with dismissal, unprofessionalism, and dehumanizing rhetoric.”

On Tuesday, Lyon expressed her frustration with UCSD’s decision to retain the course. “I tried, I tried as hard as I could, and the people around me and across the globe tried as well,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “The odds were stacked up against me from the beginning and yet still I took it to the next step each time. It’s hard to believe what would’ve been enough to get them to remove it from the books.”

“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,” she finished.

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