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Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | Last updated: 8:42pm

Professor faces backlash over Condom Olympics



A UA professor is facing backlash over his Condom Olympics event, which received negative attention from some corners of the Internet.

William Simmons, an associate professor in the department of gender and women’s studies, had students in his “Sex, Health, and AIDS” class organize the Condom Olympics on the UA Mall during the SexTalk Week Resource Fair on Feb. 12. Complaints were subsequently raised over the nature of the event, according to Chris Sigurdson, senior associate vice president for University Relations.

Several blogs picked up the Condom Olympics story late last week and comments were made on the posts regarding the UA and the professor.

“Are you a student who doesn’t like exams or papers?” wrote Alec Torres of the National Review Online. “Well, if you attend the University of Arizona, take Professor William Simmons’ class … and instead of tests you’ll be required to plan the Condom Olympics.”

Campus Reform, University Herald and LifeNews.com are among other sites that commented on Simmons’ event.

“The information in those [blogs] were inaccurate,” Sigurdson said. “People got the idea that participation was required, [and] it was a non-rigorous course with no exams or papers and that this was a major part of the class — all of which was wrong.”

Sigurdson said he personally received a total of three emails complaining about the event, the course and the professor.

Simmons declined repeated requests for comment.

Sigurdson said participation in the Condom Olympics was not, in fact, required. The Condom Olympics event comprised five points of the overall grade for the class, and students could alternately chose to get an STD test.

Charles May, a history junior who is in Simmons’s class, said Simmons addressed the fallout from the Condom Olympics in lecture on Monday. May was present for the Condom Olympics and worked the sports and games table.

May said he had no problems with the event and didn’t think people should be upset with the professor.

“[Simmons] is a good guy and my specific Teaching Assistant is really nice,” May said.

May said he understands, however, why some people would not agree with the professor having students hold the event.

“Some people think, ‘If you’re going to have sex, why think about using a condom? Because you should be doing it to procreate,’” May said.

Another issue raised was that the blogs portrayed the class as being easy, according to Sigurdson.

“The rigor of the course is quite extensive,” Sigurdson said.

May said that the class hasn’t been too difficult so far.

“We haven’t had many big assignments, we’ve just had a few little things,” May said. “It seems like, based off of reading the syllabus, that it’s not going to be tough.”


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