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Professor questions choice of clothing, Cornell University student presents thesis in underwear

Over two dozen people stripped to bras or boxers, with about half the room remaining in states of undress for the entirety of Chai’s thesis. She also hosted an informal roundtable with students and teachers on methods of diversity and inclusion training for faculty.


A Cornell University student stripped during her senior thesis presentation. The student, Letitia Chai, gave her honours presentation wearing her underwears after her professor allegedly questioned her sartorial choice during the trial run of the presentation earlier that week. On Saturday, over two dozen people stripped to bras or boxers, with about half the room remaining in states of undress for the entirety of Chai’s thesis, the Cornell Sun reported.
“The first thing that the professor said to me was ‘is that really what you would wear?’” Chai told the daily. “I think that I was so taken aback that I didn’t really know how to respond.” Reportedly, the professor told Chai that her shorts were “too short” and that she was making a “statement” with her attire.
She also mentioned that the professor, Rebekah Maggor, who teaches the Wednesday section of PMA 3815 Acting in Public: Performance in Everyday Life had told her that she would attract “men’s attention” away from the content.
“I am not responsible for anyone’s attention because we are capable of thinking for ourselves and we have agency,” the 18-year-old student was quoted by the daily.
Soon after the professor went out to talk to Chai and then asked her student what her mother would think of her clothing choice. “My mom is a feminist, gender and sexuality studies professor. She’s fine with my shorts,” Chai answered.
When Maggor then asked Chai what she was going to do, she replied, “I’m going to give the best damn speech of my life.” Chai stripped down to her bra and underwear and walked back into the room, and presented her thesis in those clothing.
Later, taking to Facebook, she invited public to her final presentation, however, not taking any names of fellow students or professor. During the introduction of her thesis on Saturday, Chai walked into wearing the same clothes she had worn in class. “Strip, everybody!” a teary Chai said she stood in solidarity with people who have been asked to “question themselves” based on others’ perception of their appearances, stripping down to her underwear again in front of the room.


Her presentation was live-streamed on Facebook and has garnered a lot of attention online.

However, 11 of the 13 other students that were in class that day wrote a joint statement to the daily that they supported Chai’s protest but not her public account of the incident. “The majority of us are students of colour, from multi-ethnic backgrounds, who very much relate to Letitia’s frustration with systemic oppression that is part of the fabric of this country,” the statement read. “We do not want to discredit [Letitia’s] narrative.”
“[Maggor] is a gift to Cornell,” the statement read, stating that the students felt Chai’s post did not “adequately represent [Maggor’s] past and continued advocacy for women and minorities” and that Maggor had “apologized on more than one occasion,” the Cornell Sun added quoting the joint statement.



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Thought of the day

You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.