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Campus-sponsored talk by 'genderqueer' porn star raises eyebrows at Williams College

Colleges and universities have been known to push the envelope when it comes to inviting controversial figures to campuses, and Williams College, a prestigious private institution in western Massachusetts, is the latest -- by inviting a porn star.

The speaker, Jiz Lee, is described in the college calendar advertising the event as "an award-winning genderqueer performer, author, artist and pleasure activist." Friday night, a sample of the performer's work is scheduled to be shown on campus followed by a discussion with students.

Some have been shocked by the graphic description of the porn stars talents.

"For me I think the biggest question right now is a matter of whether the event has academic merit or whether it has social merit," said Marina Bousa, a junior studying anthropology at the college in Williamstown, Mass.

"What I really love about Williams is it's really kind of an exciting place to be. Even though we're in the middle of nowhere, we have these really passionate students who care about what they think and are willing and eager to create events where they can express their views and learn about things that Williamstown doesn't necessarily always have to offer," Bousa said. "I can see why the event would be an exciting opportunity for that, but, on the other hand, I question its academic value."

College officials say they've received roughly a half-dozen calls from alumni and one parent expressing concern.

Critics of the porn star's visit have questioned the administration's judgment and funding of the event, but Williams College officials say the money is coming from a specific endowment received 20 years ago that focuses on education regarding human sexuality and orientation issues.

Founded in 1991 through a gift from Mike Dively, a 1961 graduate, the Dively Committee for Human Sexuality and Diversity is made up of faculty, staff and students who plan events each year. Bisexual activists, gay athletes, transgender performers and a wide variety of others have been welcomed to speak.

"Colleges have all kinds of events. We have hundreds and hundreds of events each year," explains Jim Kolesar, the assistant to the president for public affairs at Williams College. "Some of them are provocative and challenging. ... And to those who don't want to take advantage of the opportunity, they don't have to."

Event organizers say they're getting a lot of positive feedback regarding Lee's visit and other weekend events related to the Dively Committee's 20th anniversary.

"We have a small portion of our population that is concerned, but we also have a large population that's not," said Justin Adkins, the assistant director of the Multicultural Center. "We have about 20 alumni coming back for this weekend of Dively events, and they're very excited."

Proponents of Jiz Lee's visit argue the screening and discussion may push boundaries but does have value.

"I think that pornography is an issue, is a medium that deserves critical analysis, just like many other topics at Williams College, and I think this is a really good opportunity to engage in critical analysis," said Haley Eagon, a junior pursuing a double major in political science and women's, gender and sexuality studies.

Molly Line joined Fox News Channel as a Boston-based correspondent in January 2006.

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