A student-led petition at the University of California, San Diego asking the theater department to stop offering a course titled “The Films of Woody Allen” was rejected by the school’s academic senate in February.
Allen’s daughter, Dylan Farrow, has written about how Allen sexually abused her as a child. Since Farrow spoke out about the abuse, multiple actors have cut ties with Allen. His films have been criticized for their portrayal of romantic relationships between older men and younger, sometimes underage, women.
According to the petition, the class has been taught at UCSD since the 1990s by the same professor. In the most recent quarter, less than a third of the seats in the class were full. An article by Inside Higher Ed mentions the course discusses the directing, cinematography and recurring themes in Allen’s films but does not say whether the class discusses the allegations against him.
Despite low enrollment and a continuing debate on the moral implications of teaching the course, UCSD’s academic senate denied the request on the premise of academic freedom and the First Amendment.
“We conclude that cancelling or removing this or any other course for the reason that it contains the study of controversial material, or even material widely regarded as morally problematic, would undermine both the value of free inquiry and the associated rights of faculty to engage in such inquiry,” the academic senate said in a statement Feb. 16.