This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
What's the best reason to support the statement "Gay marriage should be prohibited"?
That's a question University of Utah students at the school's English Language Institute were asked to answer in a course packet this semester.
The exercise, which provides a thesis statement and asks students to select the best of three supporting reasons, was made to teach argument skills to those learning English. But one student in a course at the institute, who anonymously tipped The Salt Lake Tribune, said the scenario asks students to answer the question with a "ridiculous, wrong, homophobic statement."
The three provided responses:
A. Gay marriage has never been allowed.
B. Gay marriage is disgusting.
C. Societies should promote traditional marriages as the ideal environment for children.
"C" supposedly is the correct answer. Other questions on the page discuss internet dating, highway speed limits, organic food and genetically modified crops.
U. spokeswoman Maria O'Mara said: "The scenarios in each exercise, which were created years ago by an instructor no longer employed by the university, are intended to help students hone their writing skills, not engage students in a debate about laws or values."
The Continuing Education course, Public Speaking 640, does not provide college credit, she said. The English Language Institute, which could not be reached for comment, says on its website that it aims to offer a "wonderful cultural and educational experience" for international students.
The student who tipped The Tribune was "shocked" at the question in her course packet that she says was updated this semester.
"It was so shocking to promote these kind of ideas to us as international students [at] an American institute," her email states.
The course packet, O'Mara said, "was due for content review."
"Since this specific question in no way furthers the intent of the course," she said in an email, "it will be eliminated from the curriculum in the future."
email@example.com Twitter: @CourtneyLTanner