Each year, Purdue University’s annual Boiler Gold Rush event serves as a week-long introduction to campus for incoming freshmen, and a way for school’s newest students to forge long-lasting bonds while learning their way around.
But this year, the event ended with thousands of students bonding together in opposition to a comedian accused of sexually harassing a student leader in front of more than 7,000 of her peers.
“On Saturday night, a comedian performed as part of our BGR student orientation closing session,” Purdue officials said in a statement provided to IndyStar. “Accounts differ as to what exactly happened on stage, but some portions of the performance were clearly inappropriate and contrary to the university’s values of respect and support for all.”
The comedian referred to in the university statement is Andy Gross, a ventriloquist and illusionist known for his touring show and YouTube channel that has amassed millions of views.
“We will not work with this comedian again and are proud of our students who are standing up and voicing their concerns about the performance,” the university added.
Students in attendance, including freshman Andora Fess of San Francisco, said Gross’s show was unfunny and distasteful throughout, but took a troubling turn for the worse when he called a student up to the stage to serve as a volunteer.
“He brought up one of our Supers, which is a leader in our BGR orientation program, and he proceeded to harass her,” Fess explained. “He made her stand closer and closer to him and made a joke about that giving him a erection and making his pants seem to say ‘let me out,’ referring to his genitals.”
Fess said Gross then made the student stand back-to-back with him, despite her apparent discomfort. While standing back-to-back, Fess said Gross made the student touch his upper thigh, and made a joke about “at least getting a feel” after performing a magic trick.
“I was pretty angry and just in shock that this seemingly very famous person was treating women like this at a school, and he continue to make jokes at the expense of women … he made a Matt Lauer joke,” Fess said. “It was just very distasteful, and once he started doing that, people in the audience started to get up. He just kept making sexual jokes even as the crowd was leaving.”
Fess said after Gross finished, a representative from the university took the stage and said the performance does not represent Purdue and its values.
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Source: USA Today