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No, a UC San Diego professor isn’t making students be naked for class

Where would the students have put their No. 2 pencils?


Dylan Love


Posted on May 12, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 8:49 pm CDT

Professor Ricardo Dominguez has been teaching the same course at UC San Diego for 11 years. And so far, he hasn’t received any complaints about the final exam—until now. Parents are outraged by rumors that students are required to be nude in order to pass his final exam. But Dominguez doesn’t see a problem with it, as he’s also naked while administering the test. 

The class Dominguez teaches is UC San Diego’s Visual Arts 104A, or “Performing the Self.” As you can probably guess from the course title, there’s some especially precious theater methodology on display, which culminates in a naked student demonstration of their “erotic selves” to earn their final grades. Dominguez calls it a “performance of self,” and it happens in the dark lit only by candles.

Now, parents are griping to media outlets that their children are being forced to shed their clothes to complete the course. “It bothers me, I’m not sending [my daughter] to school for this,” a concerned parent told ABC 10 News. “To blanket say you must be naked in order to pass my class… It makes me sick to my stomach.”

On YikYak, the anonymous location-based social network, UCSD students are also buzzing about the controversy. 

Making light.


One commenter pleaded that the media pay attention to what life is really like at UC San Diego. 


In response to the controversy, Dr. Jordan Crandall, the chair of the visual arts department, released the following statement. Apparently, students aren’t actually required to drop trou to pass the class. They’re just required to be metaphorically “naked”:

“The concerns of our students are our department’s first priority, and I’d like to offer some contextual information that will help answer questions regarding the pedagogy of VIS 104A.  
 Removing your clothes is not required in this class.   The course is not required for graduation.
 VIS 104A is an upper division class that Professor Dominguez has taught for 11 years.  It has a number of prompts for short performances called “gestures.” These include “Your Life: With 3 Objects and 3 Sounds” and “Confessional Self,” among others. Students are graded on the “Nude/Naked Self” gesture just like all the other gestures.  Students are aware from the start of the class that it is a requirement, and that they can do the gesture in any number of ways without actually having to remove their clothes. Dominguez explains this – as does our advising team if concerns are raised with them.  There are many ways to perform nudity or nakedness, summoning art history conventions of the nude or laying bare of one’s “traumatic” or most fragile and vulnerable self.  One can “be” nude while being covered.

Thanks, Dr. Crandall. That clarifies…well, not that much, actually. 

H/T 10News | Photo via Dr. Les Sachs/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: May 12, 2015, 12:48 pm CDT