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Politics

USF prof gets counseling letter over toilet talk

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Published:   |   Updated: November 1, 2013 at 10:16 AM

TAMPA — The University of South Florida has issued a letter of counseling to a professor who has, in turn, apologized for using imagery comparing a priest to a toilet during an academic conference.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights complained to USF after it learned from a participant that psychology Professor Timothy Weil had used the imagery during a presentation at a September meeting of the Florida Association for Behavior Analysis in Daytona Beach.

According to a participant's account and USF records, Weil displayed an equal sign (=) in the middle of a large screen and then added a picture of a priest holding a crucifix to the left of it, and a picture of a toilet to the right under the words, “It's All In How We Relate!”

He then asked the audience to comment on what the imagery meant, with someone from the audience responding, “They're both full of s---.”

This week, Julianne Serovich, dean of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, issued Weil a letter of counseling that “does not constitute discipline, but rather serves as a professional reminder to avoid conduct that if repeated could be a basis for disciplinary actions.”

In an email exchange with a participant, Weil explained that some members of the audience may have missed the point of the exercise, which was to show how through language, people are able to relate a wide variety of things, even those that seemingly have no link.

Serovich said the professor used poor judgment.

Weil expressed “sincere apologies to those who were offended by my presentation” in a letter to Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League.

Donohue said he accepted the apology and considered the matter closed.

jstockfisch@tampatrib.com

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