When State Sen. Susan Wagle criticized Kansas University professor Dennis Dailey on the floor of the Kansas Senate, she refused to name the student she said was offended by purported pornographic materials used in Dailey's class.
Now Wagle says she's scheduled to appear today on the Fox News program "The O'Reilly Factor" to discuss her efforts to stop Dailey from showing explicit videos in a class on human sexuality.
And Wagle said she would be accompanied by Jessica Zahn, a student in Dailey's "Human Sexuality in Everyday Life" class.
Until now, Zahn had been Wagle's unidentified source on the happenings in Dailey's class.
Zahn, a Linwood senior majoring in political science, also has served as Wagle's student intern this legislative session. Zahn is married and lives in Lawrence. Attempts Monday to contact Zahn were unsuccessful.
Wagle said she hoped to play audiotapes of comments made by Dailey during recent classes. The tapes, she said, showed Dailey "continued to engage in sexually harassing behavior and talked about pedophilia in a socially unacceptable manner."
Asked to elaborate on the tapes' content, Wagle replied, "No, I'll save that" for tonight.
The one-hour program begins at 7 p.m. on Sunflower Broadband Channel 53. It's rebroadcast at 10 p.m.
"They said if something big happens -- like if they find Saddam (Hussein) -- I'll be bumped. Otherwise, I'm on," Wagle said.
Fighting the veto
Last month, the Wichita Republican introduced a budget amendment aimed at rescinding state support for departments within the state's universities that allow instructors to buy or show obscene videos in their classes on human sexuality.
Aimed at Dailey's class, the amendment survived votes in the Senate and House but was line-item vetoed April 21 by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
Wagle, a leader among conservative legislators, said she would consider leading an effort to override the governor's veto.
"Some different approaches are being looked at; I'm willing to negotiate," she said. "There's more than one way to shut down what goes on in that class."
|The one-hour "The O'Reilly Factor" program begins at 7 p.m. on Sunflower Broadband Channel 53. It's rebroadcast at 10 p.m."They said if something big happens -- like if they find Saddam (Hussein) -- I'll be bumped. Otherwise, I'm on," Sen. Susan Wagle said.|
Wagle said she was irked that even though Dailey was aware of legislators' concerns, he did not change his classroom behavior.
"The only thing that changed after the amendment passed the Legislature was professor Dailey expressed regret that he would no longer be able to have what is known by students as 'Porn Week,' which was to take place at the end of the semester," Wagle said. "He's continued to be extremely offensive."
Throughout the controversy, other students in Dailey's class have dismissed Wagle and Zahn's characterizations of Dailey's behavior as falsehoods, exaggerations or recklessly out of context.
"'Porn Week?' I've never heard of 'Porn Week.' What is she talking about?" said Jen Hein, a senior from Lawrence who organized student opposition to Wagle's amendment.
"I don't understand where all this is coming from and why this is happening to a great class that's taught by a great professor who's part of a great department," Hein said. "I don't get it. KU is an excellent university -- why are we being attacked?"
"The O'Reilly Factor" producers asked KU officials Monday for Hein's telephone number. But by 5 p.m. Monday, no one from the show had contacted her.
"Something tells me this isn't going to be very fair representation of what goes on in the class," Hein said. "I bet they make it look like it's fair, but, really, it won't be."
Dailey, 64, was not available for comment Monday. He has made few public comments about the controversy surrounding his class.
KU spokesman Todd Cohen said he was contacted Monday by the show's producers.
"They weren't interested in someone from the university being on the show; they just wanted a statement," Cohen said. "So we sent them the copies of the statement the Board of Regents made earlier and the governor's veto message."
Cohen said Wagle's criticisms were the subject of a regents investigation being conducted by the university's Office of the Provost.
"Until the investigation is completed, there isn't much we can say about it other than it will be completed in a timely manner and in accordance with Board of Regents criteria," Cohen said.
Peter Hart, a spokesman and commentator with the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, said he doubted commentator Bill O'Reilly would spend much time defending Dailey.
"These kinds of stories are standard fare on his show," Hart said. "There's an underlying theme on 'The O'Reilly Factor,' and it's that there is a moral degeneration going on in the public schools and in the academic world. That explains his interest in what's going on there."
Hart warned KU to expect an onslaught of angry e-mails from O'Reilly's viewers.
"He's not afraid to use his show as a vehicle to press for substantive change on issues he cares about," he said.
"The O'Reilly Factor" officials did not respond to a request seeking an interview.