Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Cornell student strips down to her underwear while presenting thesis

Cornell student strips down to her underwear while presenting thesis

The student, Letitia Chai, delivered her honors thesis defense in her underwear last week in protest over her professor's remark about the unprofessionalism of her denim shorts.

At least two dozen of the students also undressed in solidarity.

She then encouraged the audience to strip. "The only question that this has led me to ask is how much longer we need to put up with this nonsense?" I am a human being.

According to The Sun, 28 of the 44 people in the room stripped in support of Chai. After her presentation, Chai hosted an informal roundtable with students.

It was a demonstration against her Acting in Public professor Rebekah Maggor, who Chai claims told her earlier in the week that her shorts were too short during a trial run of her presentation. "As a professor, she is incredibly open to criticism and, following the incident, listened to what her students had to say regarding her role in what occurred".

"Is that really what you would wear?"

Maggor then asked what Leticia should do next. "She's fine with my shorts", Chai said she responded.

"She said I was making a statement by wearing my outfit".

"For your performances, dress appropriately for the persona you will present", the syllabus reads, "For example, how would you dress for a specific job interview?"

Maggor responded to the paper in an email.

Maggor informed Cornell Sunlight: "I do not inform my trainees just what to use or specify just what comprises ideal garments for them".

"I ask them to reflect on themselves and make their own decisions".

At the beginning of Chai's presentation on Saturday, she didn't specifically address her exchange with Maggor but spoke about "individuals like myself who have been asked to question ourselves, specifically our appearance for the comfort of others". After that incident, Chai wrote a Facebook post about what happened and invited readers to attend her presentation on May 5 wearing their favorite underwear.

According to a statement written by 11 of the other 13 students in Maggor's class that day, the situation may have gone down a bit differently than Chai wrote on Facebook. However, she has openly recognized this and apologized on more than one occasion. The students added that Chai's post did not "adequately represent [Maggor's] past and continued advocacy for women and minorities". "We do not want to discredit [Letitia's] narrative". "However, we feel it is important and our obligation to share our impression of Wednesday's events to provide a fair representation of the situation". She said she was going to give the best damn speech of her life. This makes it sound like she was approached as a possible victim of sexual harassment, rather than a perpetrator-which suggests that Title IX officials think a professor questioning a student's appearance is a more serious matter than a student disrobing in front of her classmates. Our professor regularly asks all of the students, male and female, such questions to clarify appropriate attire for public speaking.

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