Call me shallow, but I click on a story headlined "La Salle suspends professor who hired dancers." Yeah, those kind of dancers. The Philly Inquirer reports:
A La Salle University professor has been suspended after reports that a recent lecture offered more in the way of lap dances than learning, colleagues said Monday.
Jack Rappaport -- who taught statistics at the business school -- reportedly hired strippers to perform at a March 21 extra-credit seminar at a satellite campus in Plymouth Meeting, the Philadelphia City Paper reported on its website Friday.
So my first question was, is this a Catholic school? It sounded like it would be Roman Catholic, but it could also belong to another denomination or be unaffiliated. Heck, it could be public. I read to the end but didn't find my answer. Here's the ending, for what it's worth:
On the website RateMyProfessors.com, students described him as everything from "great instructor" to an "easy A," with one student remarking in a review from 2004:
"Extremely strange man. Loves gambling, horse racing, and strip joints. Talks about all of the above all the time."
In addition to his teaching load, Rappaport also served on the university's committee on academic integrity.
Having earned my degree in economics, there were many statistics classes where we used gambling to explain basic concepts. And a lot of econ courses might even discuss horse racing or strip joints. One of my favorite courses used Richard Posner's Sex and Reason. And yet nobody at my public university would have dared bring in strippers to class.
If the school were religiously affiliated, it would seem that this would be even more scandalous. And it turns out, as you probably already knew, that LaSalle University is a Catholic institution. This seems like an important point to not only mention but explore in further detail.
Thankfully, other outlets at least mentioned the fact, such as ABC's report subheaded "3 Women in Bikinis Allegedly Give Professor Lap Dance During Business Ethics Seminar" and this AP report. But others, such as this Fox report and this other Philly Inquirer story, didn't.
I rarely write up ghosts such as this, but the failure in these stories is one of the most common I see: not giving basic details about religious affiliation. Usually it happens when someone mentions that a particular person goes to church, but not which one. Or a story mentions a congregation by name, but not what religion or denomination it is. I'm preaching to the choir here, I'm sure, but that basic level of information goes a long way with readers who are religiously aware.
For a story about a professor hiring strippers for lap dances during class, failing to note the religious affiliation leads to failure fully to explore the story.