Student: I Wrote Wrong Instructor Name, Got Accused of Sexual Harassment
University of Tennessee says it's investigating
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2016 2:54 PM CDT
Stock image.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – "Sarah Jackson" is apparently the name of a pornographic model. If you weren't previously aware of that, well, neither was Keaton Wahlbon, and his ignorance of that fact just got him into hot water at the University of Tennessee. Wahlbon is a student in Professor Bill Deane's earth science class, and on a recent quiz, there was a question reading: "What is your lab instructor's name? (if you don't remember, make something good up)." Wahlbon couldn't remember, so he wrote in "a random generic name," he tells Reason. But that name was Sarah Jackson, and when Wahlbon got his quiz back, he'd received a score of zero and his answer to that question was marked "inappropriate," TotalFratMove reports. After speaking to the teaching assistant who graded the quiz, who told him the grade would not be changed, Wahlbon emailed Deane—and the professor doubled down on the TA's decision.

Despite Wahlbon explaining that he had "zero intention of trying to be funny or rude" since he had no idea Sarah Jackson was the name of a porn star, Deane responded to him, "I have no way of determining your intention. I can only consider the result. The result is that you gave the name of Sarah Jackson, who is a lingerie and nude model. That result meets with Title IX definition of sexual harassment. The grade of zero stands and will not be changed." Wahlbon told Reason on Oct. 4 he planned to appeal to the head of the natural sciences department. But on Friday, a university spokesperson told the Knoxville News Sentinel that neither Wahlbon nor the teaching assistant had filed a complaint, and that the department actually brought up the issue after reading about the incident online. University officials are now investigating. (A Berkeley professor accused of sexual harassment is suing his accusers.)