Regressive Monday. 2: University of Tennessee student guesses lab instructor’s name wrong using generic pornstar name, reported for sexual harassment

Here’s another instance of University Pecksniffs going way too far, as reported by ABC 2 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The skinny: a University of Tennessee (UT) student took a geology test from instructor Bill Deane, and one of the questions (known in our trade as a “gift question”) was to name the lab instructor. As you can see from the question below, it says “If you don’t remember make something good up.”

A student named Keaton Wahlbon didn’t remember, so he made up a name: Sarah Jackson. That’s pretty generic, right?


PHOTO Permission: Keaton Wahlbon

Big mistake. Wahlbon not only got a zero on the quiz, but was reporteed to UT for sexual harassment. As ABC 2 reports:

As it turns out, [Sarah Jackson] is also the name of a lingerie model, a porn star, and plenty of other people from all walks of life.

Instructor Deane gave Wahlbon a zero grade for the answer and called it inappropriate. Whalbon emailed the instructor claiming his innocence and stating it was just a coincidence. Wahlbon received an email back back from the instructor, saying he had no way to determine Wahlbon’s intent and could only consider the result. In an email response shared with FOX Nashville from Wahbon, the instructor says, “The result is that you gave the name of Sarah Jackson, who is a lingerie and nude model. That result meets the Title IX definition of sexual harassment. The grade of zero stands and will not be changed.”

 The exchange:



The rest of the report:

Wahlbon emailed FOX 17 Nashville, saying it’s not so much about the grade, but about his integrity that has been “degraded.” Wahlbon says “It’s not that it’s going to affect my grade it’s just the principle of the whole thing. I shouldn’t get a 0 for a coincidence like that. I even googled “Sarah Jackson” and nothing like that came up besides the thumbnail pics of a model. All the other results were artists, music, and bios of people named Sarah Jackson. My professor sent me an email defending her when I asked him about it. It’s really not so much about my grade, but they degrated (sic) my integrity as a person automatically assuming ‘the worst’ from me.”

FOX 17 spoke with UT’s Director of Media Karen Simpson, who issued the following statement on the incident: “The university is aware of the issue. Our Office of Equity and Diversity is looking into the matter as they are required to consider all complaints brought to them by a member of our campus community.”

Simpson says a report was made to the Office of Equity and Diversity by the geology department which deals with Title IX issues. The school is conducting a fact-finding investigation and has yet to speak with Wahlbon. Simpson says Wahlbon has not reached out to the office and it could be next week before all the facts can be considered and the issue resolved since students are on fall break.

The station adds that UT will look at Wahlbon’s record to see if there’s any indication he knew anything about pornstars or the like, but even if he did—and even if he knew that “Sarah Jackson” was a pornstar—is that sexual harassment? Who is being harassed?

Title IX, which was a good measure enacted to ensure equity in funding for men and women students, especially in sports, has now been coopted into a Big Brotherish form of policing that can be used, as it was here, to terrorize a student and, in fact, penalize him academically.

My last question is this: How did Professor Deane know that “Sarah Jackson” was a pornstar? I’ve never heard of her; have any readers?


  1. Posted October 10, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Sarah Yorke Jackson (July 16, 1803 – August 23, 1887) was the daughter-in-law of U.S. President Andrew Jackson. She served as White House hostess and de facto First Lady of the United States from November 26, 1834 to March 4, 1837.

  2. mikeyc
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    My neighbor growing up is called Sarah Jackson. OMG! I’ve sent her Xmas cards! Oh noes….I’m a harasser. I wonder how I should address her now?

  3. Posted October 10, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    People often misspell our Prime Minister’s first name.

    ‘Teresa’ May is, in fact, glamour model who appeared in the video for Smack My Bitch Up.

    • jeremy pereira
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      She’s actually a proper porn star. I know this because, in the 90’s or early 2000’s, I heard a story which talked about how they used to get each other’s email, so I looked her up.

      • CJColucci
        Posted October 11, 2016 at 11:18 am | Permalink

        It’s probably too much to hope that they saved the e-mails. I’d buy that book.

  4. ploubere
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    At my school, the student could file a grade appeal and would almost certainly win, as the instructor would have a very hard time justifying such an absurd response. The student followed the instructions for an absurd question, and did nothing wrong.

  5. Posted October 10, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    If he was asked to guess the lab instructor’s name he should have gone for Labby McLabface.

    • Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Oh wow… that is certainly a sexually charged name.

    • ploubere
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Ha, yes! But I suppose that’s offensive to the Irish.

  6. Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Your last question popped into my head earlier on. I wouldn’t’t have known.


  7. Kiwi Dave
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    If Bill Deane can’t determine the student’s intention, then how can he determine that this is harassment rather than coincidence? Perhaps lawyer readers of WEIT might like to offer an opinion.

    • Taz
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Exactly: “I can’t determine your intention so I’m going to assume the worst”.

      I can’t determine Bill Deane’s intention in assigning this grade, so I’m going to assume it’s personal animosity and malice.

      • sshort
        Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        and it seems like we must assume Deane’s more than passing familiarity with porn stars and lingerie models.

      • Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        What was Deane’s intention in suggesting that students “make something good up (sic)?”

      • Posted October 11, 2016 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        “I can’t determine your intention so I’m going to assume the worst”.

        If we was going to assume the worse then even if the TAs name actually was Sarah Jackson he could have still failed the student claiming that he assumed the student was referring to the porn star and not the TA. For that matter he could have failed anyone he didnt like if they got the name right. And if they named someone who wasnt a porn start he could have assumed they meant to name a porn star but couldnt remember one. Theres no limit when one decides to assume the worst

        It seems to me that as the admin digs in its heels the potential for a lawsuit grows

        Its sad that the only news outlet the kid felt would publicize his story was FOX news.

        • Posted October 11, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

          “Its sad that the only news outlet the kid felt would publicize his story was FOX news.”

          Well of course. The GOP, and Donald Trump specifically are seen as the bulwark against over the top political correctness. The problem is however that there is no nuance in their opposition. Just imagine if you’re a Trump supporter reading the headline of this post. You would perceive it as just another example of the type of “oversensitivity” that fuels condemnation of Trumps “locker room banter”, or his comments about race, or immigration. I mean we’re talking about people who think not being allowed to use the N word is reverse racism.

    • Denise
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      What on earth was the intention in saying “make something up”? I would have taken it as an invitation to make a joke.

      • somer
        Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        Not only that but “make something GOOD up”
        Even if Wahlbon had put “Marylin Monroe” you could hardly blame him. And if it was just “if you can’t remember the name make something up” an outrageous response would merit a talking to, not a nil mark or even a mark down except for that one question. As Prof Coyne pointed out “Sarah Jackson” is a common name. Whalbon is owed a public apology and a remark.

        If – purely hypothetical a student were to actually harass the lab assistant or write lewd things on papers that would require different sorts of action, but starting with a warning as to consequences if repeated (depending on the severity of the harassment i.e. physical or else extreme verbal or other threat)

    • Denise
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      The multiple choice question that includes “plastic” and “fantastic” appears to be a giveaway also. This test looks like it was designed to give everyone an A.

      • Gareth Price
        Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        My thoughts exactly!

        • somer
          Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          and this is a university course? what level of dumb would put “Plastic” or “fantastic”???

          • Bill the Cat
            Posted October 11, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

            Ironically – ‘Plastic Fantastic Lover’ is an actual song by Jefferson Airplane. (And yes, it is about an inflatable lover.)

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted October 11, 2016 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

              Oops! Mr Deane, acting on his principle of taking the worst possible interpretation, will have to commit professional hara-kiri for that one!

              Won’t he?


      • cherrybombsim
        Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        Probably some kind of “Rocks for Jocks” course.

        • Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

          So we should expect some locker room banter then.

    • eric
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      It bears repeating that with the new left, it is the offended party that decides what counts as a crime/offense, nobody else. According to their logic, once somebody got offended, it was then up to Mr. Wahlbon to prove his innocence, not up to anyone else to prove he committed an assault. Thus Prof. Deane’s response is correct new/pomo/lefty logic: if you can’t prove your good intent, you are guilty.

      • Denise
        Posted October 10, 2016 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

        Except when the injured party is a Jew, then it’s different. They get enraged when Jews try to tell them what is and isn’t anti-Semitism.

        I think it’s an absurd idea in any case, but the double standard is always striking.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      We are dealing with a ‘0 tolerance’ policy, where even the merest illusion to a banned thing is as bad as the real banned thing. There is no reasoning with ‘it’. The officials in charge of ruling on it simply turn off their brain, and quote the rules and say ‘sorry’, can’t do anything’.

      0 tolerance for weapons in schools means if a kid brings a 1 inch long plastic G.I. Joe knife to school he will be suspended because he brought a weapon to school. 0 tolerance for sexual harassment means if a kindergartner boy kisses a girl he is suspended for sexual harassment. These are actual incidences. Did reason prevail? Last I heard, no. This is what the above student is dealing with here.

  8. Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Are you sure this didn’t come from that satire group The Onion?

    The ridiculousness of the initial marking the response of Sarah Johnson as inappropriate is one thing. But then to double down and refuse to correct that over reach… it is pure hubris .

    • Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Ops Jackson not Johnson

      • Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        Johnson would be worse …

        • charlize
          Posted October 10, 2016 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

          I see what you did there. Beware of banning.

    • Filippo
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      Flip Wilson quoting “Sarah Johnson”:

      “If you can fly this plane six hundred miles an hour in the dark and find Los Angeles, you can find my bags!”

  9. Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I don’t get how that is sexual harassment, intent or not. Even if he thinks she looks like “Sarah Jackson”, and I have no idea who that is either, what is so wrong with saying so?

  10. Rita
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    What kind of instructor writes a question like that in the first place? And, yes, one does wonder how he even knew the what sounds like a generic name is actually (gasp, choke) a porn star?

    • harrync
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I suspect someone is calling the kettle black.

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Yeah who is the student harassing? I feel bad for the student. I could totally see myself making some sort of gaffe. However, I would have been more creative, hoping to amuse the professor.

  12. Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I wld not have known.

  13. Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    There should be a campaign on Twitter and everywhere else to force the staff responsible to resign and made a public apology for this obviously perverse and vicious act of malice and betrayal of teaching staff’s duty to provide fair assessments of students.

  14. keith cook +/-
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    “How did Professor Deane know that “Sarah Jackson” was a pornstar?

    Prof D: I have watched all of her porn movies and quite frankly it was sub par, she is an insult to porn, now if you had used XXXXX name that would have been a AAA+ mark. Call by this afternoon and in the interest of geology and the meaning of rock hard, I will show you what I mean.

    • nicky
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink


  15. Historian
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    This incident reminds me of a 17th century witch hunt in which “fact-finding” investigations were conducted to determine if a woman was actually a witch. William Deane is probably already regretting his foolish action. He should simply have made no comment regarding the name and kept his porn expertise to himself.

    • Kopper
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      I agree. He must by now be avoiding running into coworkers in the hallway, and probably call in sick for the next 3 weeks. Totally deserved.

    • Bill the Cat
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      It’s a fair cop.

  16. eric
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Sarah Jackson seems incredibly generic. The first thing that popped into my head was “some granddaughter of the Jackson 5 is making music now?”

    I’d also argue (were I the student) that the direction “make something good up” is basically an carte blanche invitation to do write what they want. You can’t direct a student to tell a joke and then give them a zero for telling a joke. If you’re not going to specify the subject or boundaries of the joke and you get something ribald, its your own fault, not theirs.

    Now here’s a potential future irony: say this story becomes popular enough on the internet so that future students googling “Sarah Jackson” or “pick a funny name” get this story. This results in lots of future students picking “Sarah Jackson” for its derivative humor? What then, instructor Deane?

  17. Bill
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Good to see that taking the piss out of somebody has become sexual harassment.

    • Bill
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Also, no wonder feminists think that universities has a rape/sexual harrasment epidemic when shit like this passes off as sexual harassment.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      I assume you’re being sarcastic but he wasn’t even taking the piss!

      ‘Sarah Jackson’ is unknown. If he’d put ‘Linda Lovelace’ or ‘Lucretia Borgia’, that might have been taking the piss – but so freakin’ what?


  18. J. Quinton
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    The TA’s logic is sound. There’s no use arguing against unassailable logic. Student deserves a 0.

    I mean, if someone won the lottery, they MUST HAVE cheated, since there’s a 100% chance of winning the lottery if that person’s a cheater.

    • eric
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      100% of college going women named Sarah Jackson have suffered the sexual harassment of being called Sarah Jackson. 100%!!!!

  19. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    When I google “Sarah Jackson” a stream of images of the same girl in lingerie cones up. That should light warnings, in case one googles. But who would, in such a situation, and why should it matter?

    • Dominic
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      What annoys me is the assumption that being a model is demeaning. I expect Sarah Jackson is happy doing it – who knows? But to decide that it is immoral or wrong to be a model/porn star, which is the implication, is to sit in judgement on others.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      “Cones,” heh.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

        I think that’s Madonna you’re thinking of…


  20. BobTerrace
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I guess universities have become a hot spot to change our society to match the movie Idiocracy. How sad and pathetic. I wont click “Notify me…” because I don’t want to hear more of this lunacy.

  21. davidintoronto
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m offended on behalf of lingerie models.

  22. jaxkayaker
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    The instructor is being so unreasonable and recalcitrant that I have to wonder if he is attempting to make some point about title IX, like perhaps there’s a previous complaint about him on a similarly flimsy basis.

  23. mordacious1
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    For the next quiz, he should turn in a blank test with a note, “Since you already know what I’m thinking, I didn’t waste my time filling in the spaces. Grade accordingly”.

    I googled “Sarah Jackson” and got a piccolo player for the LA Philharmonic. Is naming someone who blows on a piccolo sexual harassment?

  24. ploubere
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    So I googled her, and apparently she’s not a porn star, but a lingerie model. Her photo has possibly been displayed 20 feet tall in shopping malls.

  25. Vlad The Impatient
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    In UK, first three non-image Google results are for ladies in academia (the first is the generic “find everybody named X on Facehook”). Methinks these ladies are the ones to be offended by the examiner in this sad case of stpidity.

  26. Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Sarah Jeanette Jackson, the Canadian artist. What an honor.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      who is listed in Wikipedia as….[drumroll]…Sarah Jackson!!

      Some porn stars have articles in Wikipedia, since I suppose they satisfy WP’s criterion of notability. (Nina Hartley is the most obvious example since she has long been the most articulate defender of porn who also does it.)

      Others show up in WP articles without having their own article. (you can search for all Wikipedia articles that contain a phrase) Jack Birch, the father of mainstream actress Thora Birch is the obvious example.

      But doing this kind of WP search on Sarah Jackson produces…no mentions of the model/X-star at all!

      As they say at the YOung Turks, not guilty!

    • John conoboy
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      There is a Sarah Jackson who is a professor at Northeastern Univerrsity, a Sarah Jackson who is an MD in New Orleans, another Sarah Jackson who is a professor at Nottingham Kent University, and on and on and on.

      But if you google Sarah Jackson porn star you also get a hit, but hardly surprising as there are, according to one article I read over 2000 people named Sarah Jackson in the US,

  27. nicky
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    On a tangent (hoping not to infringe the roolz here), are the other two visible questions on *university* level?
    Can sedimentary rocks be formed from materials transported by rivers? And: major class of sedimentary: plastic, clastic, fantastic??
    Come on, this is *primary* school stuff, early secundary level at best. My fourteen year old would add: “deuh”.

    • Robert Seidel
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. If that’s the level of training for a future engineer, I wouldn’t want them to do the subsoil test for my building area, for sure. Maybe it’s some subsidiary lab course for a different major?

      • nicky
        Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        I gather it is future geologists, not engineers, but the argument remains the same.
        The message? Parents, do not send your child to TU, it appears to be an institutìon for ‘retards’, proudly lead by it’s faculty.

        • Robert Seidel
          Posted October 11, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          There’s an important subfield known as engineering geology, concerning itself with foundation stability, tunneling, landfill and dike safety and stuff like that. That’s what I meant. You really want the persons doing this to have proper expertise!

  28. Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    My friend and I, let’s say we’re not tabula rasae when it comes to names of porn stars, and neither of us has heard of “Sarah Jackson.”

    Also, if you simply google popular female first names, followed by “Jackson” and “porn,” more than half of them return the name of somebody involved with porn. Seriously: I did this for the top 10 names: 6 were porn actresses, 1 was a writer of erotic fiction. There’s a lot of porn in the world.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 4:13 am | Permalink

      I have to confess that when I watch porn, the last thing I’m thinking about is the name of the actress involved.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 11, 2016 at 4:25 am | Permalink

        I will valiantly resist the tempting opportunity to start a name-dropping “favourite porn star” contest…



  29. Barney
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    I used to work with a Sarah Jackson. It is a very generic name – a common Anglo-Saxon surname, and a common bible-derived name. When I google it, I get images for a lingerie model (nothing salacious), but no one like that in the ‘word’ results (plenty of different professional people, or just links to facebook or twitter with that name). This lingerie model isn’t so famous that she pushes out professors, lawyers or artists with that name from the top results. One result is now a newspaper article on this story.

    “Make something good up” seems a strange suggestion; stranger still is to google the results you get, and punish people for them without thought. Bill Deane needs a good talking to by someone who understands education. Or fairness.

  30. Jeff Chamberlain
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Why would answering that question with the name of a porn star be actionable, anyway?

    • nicky
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Pertnent point (basically already made by our host).
      How would filling in the name of a porn star -even a famous one- (can anyone sugģest a name here?) be construed as sexual harassment?
      ‘Curiouser’ and ‘rediculouser’….

  31. Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    What does the instructor expect when asking students to “make something good up”? Even if it was a famous nude model rather than a weirdly obscure one, that doesn’t come close to the definition of harassment. At the very least, harassment is evaluated differently when the alleged target (lab instructor) has higher status or power than the alleged perpetrator. There’s not any chance for creating a hostile environment here. Honestly, we deal with truly heinous stuff on a regular basis, this kind of grasping at straws just trivializes the whole issue.

  32. Anthony Paul
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Sexual harassment is often an employment law issue and it is the employer who is potentially liable. What appears to have happened here, and I’m guessing because it’s not at all clear to me what did happen, is that the student suggested this name for a female teaching assistant. I’m guessing that Deane is the supervising teacher and is trying to make sure that he, as the employer’s rep, cannot be charged with allowing the teaching assistant to be harassed. If all of that is correct, it is not necessarily Deane who needed to know who Sarah Jackson is, but the female teaching assistant or anyone else who might have pointed out the possible reference and considered it potentially suggestive and offensive. If all the above is actually more or less accurate (who knows?) this may be an attempt to ensure the school doesn’t eventually get sued by the teaching assistant or another female employee who will point to this incident as evidence of the school’s lack of concern re harassment of its female employees, or or an attempt to avoid losing Title IX funding predicated on the existence of certain standards, or to put it in a more positive light, an attempt to ensure that the teaching assistant’s working conditions are good and legally adequate, that is, the school responds quickly to possible harassment in the workplace. I think you need more information.

    • eric
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      You are probably right in saying that once someone lodged a complaint, (hypothetical) legal advisors for the Professor, then the Geology Department, then the University would have advised that they take zero legal risk and instead escalate the situation and put all the risk on the accused instead.

      But (a) that sort of extreme risk averse behavior communicates a terrible lesson to the students. (b) Its guaranteed to cost the university money and reputation whereas a suit is only hypothetical, so it arguably “saves” the university nothing, it costs them. (c) Its not clear who complained, if anyone. If the professor started this domino fall without any TA complaint, then frankly I think everyone is fully justified in lambasting him, because he can’t possibly be perceived as the victim.

      OTOH if the TA complained, then yeah, each person in the domino chain from that point forward can merely be accused of covering their own legal a** rather than putting good of the accused and (IMO) the student community first.

      Its a sad, sad commentary on the world that that behavior is seen as perfectly acceptable and even reasonable. It isn’t. The reasonable behavior is you take the slight legal risk and demonstrate through word and deed that the university respects the freedom of expression of its students.

    • somer
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      but then why put “make up something good”

  33. nicky
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Jamie Johnson, Bernice Brady, Hillary Bond, Annie Fox, Jessica Coyne, Hale Hasty, Menorah Beef, Nicky Noah, Bernie Stace, Maddy Taile.
    10 random female names I just made up now. I bet that one or two of them are probably porn stars or lingerie models, with the plethora of porn stars and lingerie models we have. Note that most of them are even much less ‘common/generic’ than ‘Sarah Jackson’.
    Mr Bean lives up to his name. I guess Monty Python would be proud to have him.

    • harrync
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      If Hale Hasty, Menorah Beef, and Maddy Taile aren’t the name of porn stars now, they will be soon.

  34. alexandra Moffat
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    No, not this reader. Ever. Also never heard of a test asking a silly question like that. Better really instructional queries like
    “What color was George Washington’s white horse?”
    Are teachers so underworked that they have spare time to pursue such idiocies?

  35. geckzilla
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    This is pretty stupid; never heard of Sarah Jackson before. I would have guessed there is some kind of previous history going on between the student and instructor, but the student didn’t even know his name! Come on. Even if he had written Jenna Jameson, I dunno how that can be considered harassment. I suppose the student needs to have some kind of mind-reading ability?

  36. Jonathan Dore
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    According to (which uses census data), there are 2,029 people in the US called Sarah Jackson. That doesn’t sound like that many — but try putting in your own name to compare. If it’s even faintly unusual, the numbers are tiny. There are only 9 people in the US with my name.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 4:20 am | Permalink

      Fascinating. There are “1 or fewer people in the US named Colin McLachlan” In Scotland I have met at least two others with my name.

      • Posted October 11, 2016 at 5:02 am | Permalink

        There are 47 people in the U.S. named “Anthony Allan” but 1 or fewer named “Ant Allan”.

        “Ant” surprises or puzzles most of my US clients; not surprisingly as there are fewer than 1,618 people in the U.S. with that as their first name.


  37. Thanny
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    This is why so many people these days call feminism cancer.

    Because academic feminism is where this nonsense comes from, along with all the rest of what you’ve been criticizing for a short while now – safe spaces, cultural appropriation, etc.

    Feminism never was about equality, but it was at least about half of the equality equation (more rights and privileges for women, but without taking on hardly any of the duties, responsibilities, and obligations of men) at one time. That’s no longer the case, and hasn’t been for a few decades now. So yes, feminism is now cancer.

    • nicky
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      I’m not so sure that feminism was *never* about equality, I think it used to be, but stand to be corrected.
      The over the top excesses of ‘third generation’ feminism and extreme PC (SWJ’s , snowflakes and ‘social scientists’) are indeed definitely not. The present ridiculous injustice to this student are a prime example.
      Moreover, the student got his other answers -admittedly unsuperably* ‘easy’- right. A 0 is hence completely out of order. The term ‘vindictive’ comes to mind.

      *trigger warning! Sarcasm!

      • charlize
        Posted October 10, 2016 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        I’m offended: you’re making light of trigger warnings which are very serious and important.

      • somer
        Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        I feel that most of it used to be about equality. Most of it now seems to be about identity politics.

  38. Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    A quick bit of Google sleuthing reveals that Sarah Jackson the model and actress (who appeared in the television show Rescue Me, among other things) is a completely different person from Sarah Jackson the obscure porn actress (who doesn’t show up in regular searches). So which Sarah Jackson was assumed in making the conclusion of sexual harassment? Just the model/television actress?

  39. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    “I know … I’ll go with the first name of my favorite jazz singer (Sarah Vaughan) and the last name of my favorite gospel singer (Mahalia Jackson) … What could go wrong with that?”

    It is a sinuous path indeed, from “Sarah Jackson” to sexual harassment.

    If the assignment were to come up with a p0rn name, I’d flunk anyone who couldn’t do better than “Sarah Jackson.”

  40. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Let me guess: the actual lab assistant’s name is “Linda Lovelace”?

    • nicky
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Exactly the kind of name I was looking for, thanks!

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      I was gonna make some joke about LL, too, then remembered that she’d had some traumatic transition post Deep Throat, and thought that picking on her might be real harassment. Too lazy to look it up, though.

  41. Geoff Toscano
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just checked the date. It’s not April 1st.

  42. Walt Jones
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of my Rorschach test. The shrink told me I was obsessed with sex and I replied, “What do you mean I’m obsessed? You’re the one with the dirty pictures!”

  43. Billy Bl.
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m outraged! I never got any gift questions or fall breaks.

  44. charlize
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    The only cure for this sort of thing is extreme and massive ridicule. Hope this tidbit reaches the comedy shows to be satirized e.g. Bill Maher.

  45. tubby
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    I don’t mind a little personal information about my instructors. Things like what sports they like/their team, favorite authors, favorite movie genera… but that’s not the movie genera I expect to hear about from an instructor! Too much information, William Deane! I hope you clear your browser history and cache if you’re looking at that on university property. Heck, your IT staff probably knows all about it.

  46. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    This is getting way out of hand. Will English writing students also have to google any potential character names the come up with for a fiction story assignment along with “pornstar” to make sure no one is using that name in porn? Is that even sufficient? Lots of people in the porn industry aren’t listed as stars but could just be extras or secondary characters. (So I’ve heard. 🙂 ) Would using their names also potentially lead to accusations of sexual harassment? How many common sounding names are NOT being used somewhere in porn? I suspect there are not very many.

  47. Newish Gnu
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Um, the name of a pornstar is not really the focus of my attention. I couldn’t tell you the name of any pornstar.

    I only know the formula: a pet’s name and the name of a street you lived on as a child. Which makes my porn name “Matthew Route 1”.

    • Walt Jones
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Troy Cherry

    • Flemur
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      “Satan Wilshire Boulevard” has a nice ring to it, doncha think?

    • John Taylor
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      Tiger Beaulac. That works.

  48. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    FFS! This is utter bullshit.**

    ‘Sarah Jackson’ strikes me as a pretty common sort of name. Googling ‘Sarah Jackson’ – the first page of ‘Sarah Jacksons’ includes a line of images of the lingerie model but every other entry on the page is of different Sarah Jacksons.

    Sarah Jackson is not even a well-known pornstar (I certainly never heard of her).

    If you go to e.g WARNING: NSFW!!!!

    and scroll down past the NSFW graphic pix to the ‘Complete List of Pornstars’ there are over 8000 names there. Does ‘Adrienne Manning’ or ‘Alex Taylor’ or ‘Anna Marie’ *sound* like a pornstar?

    (I had to do some googling to find a page with a list like that. And I didn’t count the names by hand, I saved the page to hard drive, loaded it into a HTML editor which numbers the lines, and there is – conveniently – one name per line in the HTML source. Easy.)

    That’s EIGHT THOUSAND names just on that one site that could get you into trouble. It was not a particularly stupid ‘gift’ question to ask but it was a monumentally stupid reaction. Even if the guy had put ‘Linda Lovelace’ – so freaking what? He’s entitled to presumption of innocence. It could just be a name that was floating around in his subconscious. What if he put ‘Marilyn Monroe’? Would that be offensive?

    Bah humbug.


    ** The university’s action, I mean, not this page.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      P.S. –

      “How did Professor Deane know that “Sarah Jackson” was a pornstar? I’ve never heard of her; have any readers?”

      Sarah Diamond… Sarah Jade… Sarah James… Sarah Jane… nope, not on that page.


    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 4:31 am | Permalink

      …scroll down past the NSFW graphic pix…

      Sorry, I failed the first test.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 11, 2016 at 4:35 am | Permalink



  49. Flemur
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    “The result is that you gave the name of Sarah Jackson, who is a lingerie and nude model.”

    Teacherette Bill Deane indulges in “slut shaming” and denigration of female sex work, which empowers women and provides them with greater opportunities for financial advancement..

    Since there is no way of determining his intention, I must assume he’s a serial killer of prostitutes and other empowered sex-workers, and that he is familiar with “Sarah Jackson” because she’s on his hit-list.

  50. Flemur
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Simpson says Wahlbon has not reached out to the office

    I rather dislike the phrase “reached out to” because “contacted” is more correct, doesn’t sound silly, and doesn’t imply needing help, as in “reached out to the life preserver”.

    And “struggling students” always brings to mind kids duct-taped to their desks so they can’t escape.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 3:08 am | Permalink

      I absolutely agree about the horrendous “reached out to”. Along with a swag of other PC jargon, it sets off all my bullshit detectors at once.


  51. Posted October 10, 2016 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Since “instructor Bill Deane” gave the test, I made the erroneous assumption that he was the lab assistant. That made me wonder: 1. How did Deane know that “Sarah Jackson” was a lingerie and nude model? 2. Did he already know it, or take the time to do research. 3. In either case, why would a male instructor find this particular female name to be offensive in any way for any reason? Why would he care?

    Whatever his reasoning, the test is stupid and the kerfuffle is stupid.

  52. Posted October 10, 2016 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    How is this not a violation of the sexual harassment provisions of Title IX by the TA and the professor against the student? They all but called the student a pervert while falsely claiming he violated Title IX (the perfect representation of gas lighting by the way) while retaliating against him by failing him and then the professor decided not to fully investigate the claim he should have known was a possible sexual harassment. It looks like the prof cultivates an environment where this type of targeting is ok.

    Sarah Jackson is just not a well-known porn star given that she does not show up on the front few pages of google. Nor does she have a wiki page. This other Sarah Jackson is getting demeaned by this TA for doing some lingerie modeling that is no more risque then a Victory Secret commercial. This is also a new level of slut shaming but more importantly to this story it does not remotely back up the bogus reason they used to harasse the student.

  53. Ken Phelps
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 1:50 am | Permalink

    Don’t waste your time here, folks. Get this idiot’s name out in the broader internet world where the mob with pitchforks lives. Massive public shaming is in order.

  54. Posted October 11, 2016 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    Wow, this tops it all.

    I have no way of determining your intention. I can only consider the result.

    So the next time somebody bumps into me in a crowd I can have them arrested for assault? Learn something new every day.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 3:20 am | Permalink

      “I can only consider the result”. But even then, the twerp interpreted “the result” in the most prejudicial way possible, did he not?

      *The result* was simply that the student wrote a very common name, shared by dozens of non-pornstar non-lingerie-model women. The practical consequences were precisely zero (other than what the idiot prof generated sua sponte).


    • Dominic
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      One might think innocent until proven guilty, but this is the reverse.

      • Posted October 11, 2016 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

        Precisely, only I wouldn’t know how one could prove innocence under these circumstances.

  55. Posted October 11, 2016 at 3:19 am | Permalink

    Assuming that someone would know the name of a specific porn star sounds like sexual harassment and the lecturer should be the one who is seen as non-PC.

  56. Bort
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    To Professor Keane:
    Mr. Wahlbon belongs to an ethnic minority. He received a zero on his test.

    As you so eloquently put it, “I have no way of determining your intention. I can only consider the result.”

    Discriminating against a minority group is a violation of the Constitution.

    Mr. Wahlbon is also a male. Once again, “I have no way of determining your intention. I can only consider the result.”

    Discriminating against a male is a violation of Title IX.

    I hope you will now see why you must resign in the wake of what I can only assume is your gross discrimination against Mr. Wahlbon.

    (Of course, I have absolutely no evidence that you discriminated against him, but that doesn’t matter. I am merely following your lead in assuming the worst.)

  57. GBJames
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    This sort of thing is a gift to right wing types. Drives me crazy.

  58. David Duncan
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    I guess there are several solutions to this.

    Students can move to other schools that aren’t so obsessive and donors can refrain from giving to offending schools. Just make sure such idiocy is well publicised.

  59. Dominic
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    He should have put Donald Trump. Ridiculous. What is wrong with being a nude porn model anyway? Who is this Bill Deane to moralise about other people’s life styles??? Perhaps Sarah Jackson has feelings too.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      I absolutely agree that there would have been nothing at all wrong with naming a well-known pornstar. The question was ‘make something up’ after all.

      But the idiotic thing is, ‘Sarah Jackson’ doesn’t even sound like a pornstar’s name anyway, and there are dozens of Sarah Jacksons, of which one may be a very obscure pornstar and the rest certainly aren’t.


  60. Gordon
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    “Simpson says Wahlbon has not reached out to the office”. I assume they mean “contacted” but the use of this phrase suggests he is on a hiding to nothing when he does make contact

  61. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Now the only possible answers to such a question would be “Dalston” and “Gibbet.”
    (I expect that Geol.Soc.Amer., AAPG and other such reprobates have equivalents. Probably the Drosophila Botherers have too.)

  62. Posted October 11, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    The only Sara Jackson I ever heard of is a fundraiser at Pepperdine University. Is there any way that WEIT readers can weigh in on Keaton’s behalf?

  63. Kevin
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Being dyslexic I read:

    Satan Jackson

    and even that is appropriate. The teacher or TA is a courageless baboon.

  64. Posted October 11, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    The problem with ridiculing situations like this, and I absolutely agree it’s ridiculous, is that for the types of people who support Donald Trump his words are being excused as falling into the same category. They either don’t see the difference, or pretend not to see the difference. Or they’ll just use this as an example of the type of over the top sensitivity that also fuels the criticism of what Trump said.

  65. Posted October 12, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Also, if you want to give out a “free point” on a test, *give a free point*, and don’t do silly games with your students.

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