Get Naked or Get Out: Students Compelled to Strip in California Art Class

By Published on May 12, 2015

A professor at the University of California, San Diego is under fire for his practice of forcing students in his theater class to strip naked if they didn’t want to fail.

Roberto Dominguez has been teaching Visual Arts 104A: Performing the Self for 11 years, and nudity has become a key part of it. The course involves students learning to perform as themselves and present visual art performances based on their own lives. The course is taught through students presenting eight different “gestures,” and it is the last one of these gestures that has caused some consternation.

“Create a gesture that traces, outlines or speaks about your ‘erotic self(s),’” reads the syllabus. In practice, students are required to perform this “gesture” while in the nude. Dominguez himself disrobes as well for the assignment.

While the naked performances have been happening for years, the practice only recently came to wider public attention after the mother of a girl in the class complained about it.

“It bothers me, I’m not sending her to school for this,” the unnamed mother told 10News in San Diego. “To blanket say you must be naked in order to pass my class … It makes me sick to my stomach.”

Dominguez, however, says that nudity is an essential part of what the course teaches, as the naked body is “a standard canvas” for performance art. Dominguez also has argued that the nudity is not a surprise, and is known to all students from the first day of class.

“If they are uncomfortable with this gesture they should not take the class,” Dominguez told 10News.

If they’re willing to get naked, students don’t have to do much else to score a pristine grade. According to UCSD’s Associated Students page, more than 90 percent of students receive an A in the class.

 

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