Do you know who Sarah Jackson is? Not the Sarah Jackson you probably know personally, or have met at some point in time during your life. It is a terribly common name after all. No, I mean Sarah Jackson the porn star.

I don’t, and chances are, you don’t either. It seems she’s rather obscure, and to know who she is, you’d have to have a more intimate knowledge of these kinds of things. An intimate knowledge that a Tennessee teacher apparently possesses.

According to Reason, a student by the name of Keaton Wahlbon, was doing an assignment for Professor Bill Deane in his earth science class. One of the questions was “What is your lab instructor’s name? (if you don’t remember, make something good up).” And so Wahlbon told reason that since he could not remembering the name, made up a generic one to put down, and chose “Sarah Jackson.”

This resulted in Wahlbon receiving a zero on the assignment, with “inappropriate” written next to it.
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According to Reason, Wahlbon tried to fix the situation and explain himself.

Wahlbon emailed Deane, asking him to reverse the instructor’s decision. In his email, Wahlbon raised some very good points: specifically, that “Sarah Jackson” is a very common name, and the top Google search results for the name weren’t even inappropriate. (As a reminder, the question had even supplied the clearly-misleading instruction: “make something good up.”)

But it was of no use, and Deane came back with this:

“Dear Keaton,” he wrote. “I have no way of determining your intention. I can only consider the result. The result is that you gave the name of Sarah Jackson, who is a lingerie and nude model. That result meets with Title IX definition of sexual harassment. The grade of zero stands and will not be changed.”

Despite this revealing that Deane has far too much knowledge of nude models, it’s hardly his fault for having to push this punishment on Wahlbon so aggressively. Not doing so could mean some nasty consequences for the school.

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which is responsible for ensuring Title IX compliance, has given universities erroneous information about the definition of sexual harassment. Administrators at many campuses are now thoroughly convinced that they could lose federal funding for failing to investigate even the most absurd accusations. Just yesterday, I wrote about a student at Columbia University who was called before the Gender-Based Misconduct Office because one of his classmates objected to a remark he had made: he referred to himself as handsome.

So now we’ve got the problem of a system that says teachers must punish even the slightest hint of sexual harassment, intended or no. This will pan out to be an unmitigated disaster for students, especially male students, who even step so much as a toe out of line. This is especially scary when you consider that this proverbial line seems to move on the daily.

How many more students will receive failing grades, or even expulsions for innocuous words or actions that in reality harm no one?