Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s president on Monday allowed a student who had been kicked out of a religious studies class for claiming there are only two genders to return to the course, intervening before the academic integrity board could rule on a dispute.
In an email to the campus, IUP President Michael Driscoll said he decided to “indefinitely pause” the proceedings — while reserving the right to restart the process.
“Based on a review of governing policies, last week the student was informed that he is allowed to attend class,” he wrote. “I hope he will be in attendance this week and beyond.”
That student, Lake Ingle, told LifeZette that Monday was his first appearance in the class since a confrontation with his professor at the end of February. A College of Humanities official monitored the class.
Ingle said the class passed without incident. “It was fine,” he said. But Ingle said he would have liked for the academic integrity board to have rendered a decision on allegations that he disrupted the class.
“Coincidentally enough, the day I was told I could go back to class was the day I was supposed to get that ruling,” he said. “It seemed like they were going to rule in my favor.”
The dust-up occurred after Ingle objected to a video presentation of a transgender minister, followed by a classroom discussion — at first only with the female students — about topics such as “mansplaining,” systemic male privilege, and sexism.
Ingle said he acknowledged during testimony on March 9 before the six-member board — four faculty members and two students — that he was passionate during the debate. But he said he did not shout people down, interrupt the professor, or do anything else wrong.
“I don’t think I was harming the space for anything,” he said.
Ingle said he is glad to be back but does not feel completely vindicated. “The president of the university is still reserving the right to reopen the case,” he said. “I don’t know what to make of that.”
Driscoll lamented in his email that Ingle “chose to take his version of events to the media,” while the case was pending before the [academic board]. And as you probably know, the university is not allowed to violate his privacy rights by sharing the entirety of the matter.”
Driscoll wrote that he’d asked a senior faculty member with experience in the First Amendment to join the class as a monitor. In addition, Pablo Mendoza — the assistant to the president for social equity — introduced himself as a resource for anyone with issues or questions.
Ingle said he, Mendoza and the professor are working to set up a meeting among the three of them.
In the meantime, Ingle said, he is confident he will be able to get through the class and graduate in May. The religious studies major said he does not think his confrontation with the professor will affect his grade.
“If the rest of the semester goes the way this class did, I don’t foresee any problems.”
Ingle said he hopes to complete a master’s degree and then a doctorate in psychology. He acknowledged that the political environment is tough for conservatives on many campuses.
“It’s a very gray area universities are going through right now … It’s definitely a problem, the silencing of disagreeing viewpoints,” he said.
Many conservative students facing such pressures simply keep their heads down in order to get on with their careers. Not Ingle. He said he hopes to teach psychology. If he succeeds — the odds are that he will be a lonely minority on the faculty.
But he said it is important that students have exposure to different ideas.
“It’s good to have views collide,” he said. “But when you sterilize the environment, it becomes a barren place of learning. There is no learning.”