NEW YORK (AP) – Columbia University says it’s reviewing a science class in which a professor stripped to his underwear and showed 9/11 video footage during a lecture on quantum mechanics.
The Frontiers of Science class on Monday morning with Professor Emlyn Hughes also included two other participants dressed in black, one of whom used a sword to destroy a stuffed animal.
Video of the event was posted to Bwog, the online home of Columbia’s monthly undergraduate magazine.
It starts with the professor stripping with his back to the students as music plays and an image of a skull is projected on a screen. Later, two stuffed animals are placed on stools, one of which is stabbed by a person with a sword. In the background, a video shows the fall of the World Trade Center and an image of Osama bin Laden.
A female student watching Hughes could be heard repeating, “What is happening?” as the performance went on.
It ended with the professor returning to the stage.
“In order to learn quantum mechanics, you have to strip to your raw, erase all the garbage from your brain and start over again,” Hughes said.
The professor didn’t respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.
In a statement, the university said, “Universities are committed to maintaining a climate of academic freedom, in which the faculty members are given the widest possible latitude in their teaching and scholarship. However, the freedoms traditionally accorded the faculty carry corresponding responsibilities.”
It added, “While one must exercise caution in judging excerpts from a lecture or short presentations from an entire course outside of their full context, the appropriate academic administrators are currently reviewing the facts of this particular presentation in quantum mechanics.”
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