University of California Santa Cruz professor Ryan Coonerty — also a former Democratic mayor of Santa Cruz, California — is drawing attention after assigning students an essay featuring "Donald Rump" — a clear play on the president's name.
Coonerty teaches a course called "Problems in Constitutional Law: Free Expression."
According to Campus Reform, the essay accounts for 30 percent of students' final grades.
What are the details?
The essay prompt features "Donald Rump," who is described as being "known to target women, minorities, and the disabled."
The students are required to analyze a hypothetical scenario in which a student-run group — titled "Students for Offensive Speech" — invites a "controversial reality TV star" ("Rump," in this case) to the campus for a speech.
The outlet reported that Coonerty's writing prompt reads that the fictitious character's show "will feature music with offensive lyrics, strippers, and anti-immigrant speakers."
"Rump's show undoubtedly include [sic] offensive material and has been known to target women, minorities, and the disabled," the prompt continues.
"It is rumored that he will be handing out the names, photos, and addresses of student leaders and faculty who are outspoken in their support for transgender, Muslim, and undocumented communities," the prompt adds.
Coonerty instructs students to analyze the hypothetical situation and notes that members of the local community plan to protest the fictitious event. Students are expected to take on the role of the college's general counsel in order to advise school leadership on how best to handle the situation.
Did Coonerty publicly comment on the assignment?
In a statement to the outlet, Coonerty said, "The paper assignment is meant to be a fun fact pattern for the students to apply what they've learned about campus speech codes, incitement, hate speech, and obscenity."
"As a course on free expression, I encourage debate and all viewpoints," Coonerty continued. "The students start by reading The Coddling of the American Mind and many articles about the free speech crisis on campus (as well as arguments that there is not a crisis)."
"We spent last class arguing about the constitutionality of banning video games and pornography,” Coonerty's statement concluded. “It is probably worth noting that even though I'm a Democratic politician in my day job, my course is very popular with conservative students on campus because I try to argue all sides."