Professor asked to remove blow-up dolls and profane posters from office
Posters laced with profanity, blow-up dolls in business attire, and quirky décor filled Dr. David William’s office at the University of Saskatchewan — at least before complaints were made against the tenured professor.
The Edwards School of Business dean, Daphne Taras, sent Williams an email Wednesday stating he had one week to remove the decorations. Taras called the atmosphere in his office problematic and bizarre.
“It’s not a little bit. It’s a lot. The entire thing crosses a line from sort of edgy to creepy,” she said. “An office provided on public funds that is part of an employment setting should not be such that students, faculty or staff should be offended when they walk in.”
Williams, who’s taught at the university for 22 years, is known among students for having an alternative style of teaching. He uses photos with profanity in his lecture slides, for example.
The issue, however, is strictly with his office décor, which Williams said has so far only garnered positive reactions from students.
“ ‘That's awesome! That’s fantastic!’ ” Williams recalled students’ saying when they walk into his office. “I explain it and they sit down and they move an inflatable person around and we sit down and we talk.
“It kind of eases them and we start a conversation. Some people don't blink."
Williams referred to the inflatable business people as his ‘executive team.’ He said he places them on his chair when he’s out for lunch as a joke. The inflatable people make it appear as if someone is working.
"It's good because it reflects who I am. It personalizes my office,” he said.
He’s yet to remove the items from his office, but he has turned the posters around and moved the dolls so they are not viewable to the public. He is waiting to hear the outcome of a grievance.
Williams was so adamant that he should not be forced to change his office décor that he started an online petition. The petition gained just under 30 signatures in a few days before he closed it Friday as the university looks into the grievance.
“This is a silly waste of everyone’s time,” said Taras.