COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two members of the Ohio House of Representatives have written a letter to Kent State University President Dr. Todd Diacon admonishing the school for assigning what they call "adult-oriented material" to students under the age of 18.
The letter, signed by Reps. Reggie Stoltzfuz (R-Paris Township) and Don Jones (R-Freeport), takes issue with the textbook "Anime from Akira to Howl's Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation" offered in at least one of the school's College Writing I classes. A parent whose 17-year-old son is taking classes through one of KSU's branch campuses spoke with the legislators about her concerns over the book, and the representatives claim the publication portrays "graphic sexual violence."
"Quite frankly, it appears Kent State University is awarding college credit for studying porn," the letter read. "Pornographic material should never be required reading at Ohio’s taxpayer-funded colleges and universities."
In the book, author Susan J. Napier touches on how anime can portray "important social and cultural themes," according to a book summary posted online. KSU issued the following statement standing by the book's inclusion in the course's curriculum:
"We are aware of an objection raised about a reading and assignment in a Freshman Composition course.
"To engage students in the importance, power and beauty of writing, the composition faculty offers many sections of Freshman Composition, some with themes they believe will be particularly interesting to college-aged students. Not all sections have a theme, and students are free to choose a section as they see fit.
"A section of the composition course, titled College Writing I: Social Issues through Anime, teaches college-level writing through the prism of critical social issues prevalent in this internationally popular art form, such as mental health challenges, stereotypes, violence, and relations between men and women.
"The assigned text is related to the subject matter and prepares the class for dialogue about themed issues. Faculty have academic freedom to communicate ideas for discussion and learning to fulfill the course objectives.
"All students in the College Credit Plus program, as well as their legal guardian, must sign an acknowledgement that materials in a course may include mature adult themes before they enroll in a course.
"Please be assured that we take student complaints very seriously and encourage the use of our established policies, procedures, and student support avenues for resolution. Students should be aware of our policies for the resolution of student complaints on the Kent Campus and on our regional campuses and that our student ombuds office is available to help them navigate that process."
Both Stolzfuz and Jones went on to question why the book is being given to any students, let alone those who are not legal adults. The pair did not specify which professor offered the material.
"This isn’t about 'educational freedom' or censorship," the representatives wrote. "I’m not suggesting that minors – or, for that matter, any students – enrolled at Kent State be coddled in safe spaces or shielded from the truths, triumphs and tragedies of history. But I am saying students should never be forced to study pornography in order to pass a class."