A University of North Carolina professor encourages students to make false “confessions” to parents of a religious or sexual nature as part of his Spanish class.
Some of the bizarre prompts from Dr. Michael “Raúl” Brown’s “Advanced Conversation and Composition” course include, “If you’re straight, confess to be gay,” and “If you’re Christian or of a Christian family, confess to be atheist.”
A student who dropped the class went to The College Fix with Brown’s curriculum last month on the condition of anonymity.
“We were assigned to write an essay/letter to our parents pretending to be homosexual and essentially had to ‘come out’ to our parents in said fake letter,” the student said in an email, the website reported Wednesday. “While there were other options for the essay given (pretending to tell your parents you’ve decided to be atheist, or pretending you are homosexual and telling your parents you were just confused over a period of time), I find this assignment extremely inappropriate and not relevant to the class whatsoever.”
The professor, who has instructed Chapel Hill students since 2005, did not respond to The College Fix’s request for comment. UNC spokesman Jim Gregory addressed the issue instead.
“The point was to be something extreme, something that would challenge them,” Gregory said. “The point … was to pick an area that would make you uncomfortable – to force them to have to get out of their comfort zone and to have to write about something in Spanish that is more advanced. It’s a challenging assignment, that is the pedagogy involved. College is about stretching your mind and being confronted with ideas you may be uncomfortable with.”
While Brown’s Spanish 350 assignment did suggest homosexual students could write a letter saying they were straight, testimony provided to The College Fox suggests the professor has a predilection for “stretching” students’ minds with sexuality – Gregory confirmed that a class was encouraged to act out scenes from homosexual movies or plays.
“He came across as very sensitive to ensuring the students were not stepping out of their comfort zones in that respect,” Gregory said.
The university’s website bills Spanish 350 as “an all-skills course designed to prepare students to speak spontaneously about a wide variety of subjects, as well as improve their writing skills.”