Laurentian psych prof can resume teaching course if profane language waiver dropped: university

Laurentian University says a psychology professor can resume teaching a first-year course, if he stops asking students to sign a waiver acknowledging that vulgar language could be a prominent part of the class.

Dr. Michael Persinger was notified in December that he would not be allowed to continue teaching the course and that the director of the psychology department would take over for the rest of the academic year.

“This is not about academic freedom,” Dr. Robert Kerr, vice-president academic and provost, said.

“A faculty member cannot ask students to sign a document as a condition of taking a course.”

“For all our classes, we have prerequisite that students must take … Once they have fulfilled the requirements, they are free to take the course. It is a university decision and not a decision for the faculty member.”

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Persinger told CBC News that he has asked students to sign the waiver for years and has never received a complaint.

Kerr says the waiver was brought to the attention of the department two months into the term and Persinger was informed that he could not teach the course if he required students to sign a document.

“This is the first I’ve heard of [the document],” Kerr said.

Persinger says he uses words that cause emotion to teach students how they affect the brain’s rational processes.

Persinger gained worldwide attention two decades ago as one of the co-developers of the God helmet. It’s a device that was used to study the effects of gentle stimulation of the temporal lobes of the brain. Some participants in Persinger’s studies are said to have reported mystical experiences.