By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — The University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Celebration Week looks to be costly and controversial.
The northwest Wisconsin public university reportedly will pay $100,000 for the various events held during the second week of October, including a gilded investiture ceremony for Stout’s chancellor and a keynote speech by a “Poarch Creek Two-Spirit Indigequeer soma-culture sex therapist.”
State Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), vice chairman of the Senate Universities and Technical Colleges Committee, is seeking answers.
“First, it has been shared with me that the costs for your investiture (scheduled for October 14, 2022) and Celebration Week Events are approximately $100,000,” Nass wrote in a letter to Chancellor Katherine Frank. Nass is requesting Frank provide expected total costs and sources of funding for the investiture and Celebration Week events — Oct. 10-14.
The investiture, a formal ceremony recognizing Frank as UW-Stout’s eighth chancellor, comes two and a half years after she took the post. In his letter, Nass writes that he assumes the decision to not hold the event sooner was made “due to the excessive Covid-19 policies on your campus.”
“As you certainly know, students at UW-STOUT lost out on opportunities for all sorts of experiences at your campus during the implementation of those unnecessarily heavy-handed restrictions,” Nass wrote. He added that it would seem only fair that the chancellor might share in the lost opportunities the university’s students suffered “by not having an investiture after such a lengthy period after your appointment.”
The schedule includes a “Recognition Day” on Thursday, Oct. 13, including a welcome reception for Investiture guests. On Friday, Oct. 14, after a walking tour of the South Campus highlighting the main academic and student life buildings, “Distinguished guests are cordially invited to attend a celebration… including an official welcome of Katherine P. Frank as the 8th Chancellor of UW-Stout.”
Frank did not return a call seeking comment. She was said to be in meetings all afternoon.
The pomp of the investiture comes as President Joe Biden looks to wipe out debt for millions of people with student loans — loans accrued in pursuit of degrees at increasingly expensive universities now being paid for by the vast majority of Americans without college debt.
Stout’s weeklong festivities include “Embracing Diversity Day.” The day’s announced keynote speaker is Dr. Roger Kuhn of San Francisco. The university describes Kuhn as a “Poarch Creek Two-Spirit Indigequeer soma-culture sex therapist and sexuality educator.”
According to Kuhn’s website, the good doctor is “ND born, NY reborn, CA all grown up – this is the tag line I have used on varying social media sites for a few years. I feel it captures many of my life stories while leaving plenty of space to fill in the details. “
So what led Kuhn to pursue a career in therapy and sexuality? That’s the burning question surely on everyone’s mind.
“I identify as Two-Spirit. For those who are unaware, Two-Spirit is a term that was created to describe Native American (USA) and First Nations (Canada) people who experience gender variance and/or sexual orientation variance,” he explains. “I identify as Two-Spirit and gay and have experienced both racism and homophobia on multiple occurrences in my life (even as recent as 2020).”
Kuhn’s “work explores the concepts of decolonizing and unsettling sexuality and focuses on the way culture impacts and informs our bodily experiences.”
Nass is requesting Frank provide him with the costs of Kuhn’s appearance, who’s paying for it, and a copy of any contracts or agreement with the sex therapist.
The senator also wants to know why Celebration Week and Embracing Diversity Day appear to only include “the most left-leaning perspectives on gender, sexuality and sexual orientation.”
“UW-STOUT is the only designated polytechnic university in the state, but apparently campus leaders feel the need to focus on making sure students, faculty and staff hear from a keynote speaker from San Francisco on soma-culture sex therapy,” Nass wrote in the letter to the chancellor.
Empower Wisconsin | Sept. 2, 2022