The Taormino-OSU Case Study: a pedagogical tool

A Pedagogical Case Study of the Keynote-Speaker Controversy at Oregon State University’s Modern Sex Conference
by Lacey Mamak, MLIS, February 2012


This pedagogical case study is designed to stimulate discussion in undergraduate and graduate courses in higher education and student affairs administration, women’s studies, intellectual freedom, and related subjects. The case involves the invitation of sex educator and pornography producer Tristan Taormino to speak at a student-organized sexuality conference at publicly funded Oregon State University (OSU) in 2011, and the subsequent cancellation of Taormino’s speaking contract by OSU’s student affairs administration due to concerns about the use of public money to finance the speech of a pornographer. The administration’s actions sparked debate in the local, academic, and sexual health communities and garnered national news coverage. Based on news media reports and original interviews with many of the people involved, this case study details the administration’s decision to cancel the contract, the OSU student response, and the response of the nearby University of Oregon.