Student gives controversial presentation in speech class

A Tech student gave a speech during class about sex toys on Oct. 28 and was met with mixed reviews. Another student recorded the video and posted the video onto YouTube, gaining over 60,000 views.

Erik Skottegard, 26, a chemical engineering major, gave a persuasive speech about sex toys in professor of communication James Stewart’s speech class.

Skottegard’s topic of choice for the speech conducted last week was sex toys. He talked about the pros of using them in place of normal sex: no chance of getting “preggers,” no transmission of STDs and just plain fun.

He said he chose this topic for comedic reasons.

“The point being ‘why not?’” Skottegard said. “I feel like this is the only chance I’m really going to get to do something really stupid. When I get out into the real world I’m going to have to start being realistic about proper topics.”

During the presentation, he held a large sex toy and used it as a pointer during his speech. This spectacle was too much for some of the people in the class to resist laughter.

“You only get to do that once, so why not live it up?” Skottegard said.

He said that he had a lot of fun giving the speech, and he was able to keep a straight face without laughing during the entire presentation.

“I’m not going to lie, that was the hardest part about it,” he said. “I was nervous.”

He also said he could have done more with the speech. He said he wasn’t satisfied with some of his points he made in the speech. Other things he wished he could change were “proper statistics” and more research on the topic.

“And I had some more one-liners I would’ve thrown in there, too,” he said. “I’m pretty proud of how I did overall, but there was definitely something I could have improved on.”

Kyle Brazier, engineering technology major, recorded the speech.

 “The speech was well constructed,” Stewart said. “I honestly didn’t know if he was trying to persuade or be funny.”

Stewart said Skottegard had contacted him before the speech and asked if the topic of choice would be acceptable.

“I believe in free-speech,” Stewart said, but he also said he felt bad for the ladies in the class. He said he was afraid they would be embarrassed.

“I had made a mistake because of the young ladies,” he said.

JaeMyeong Park, fellow classmate of Skottegard and junior economics major, said he wasn’t offended by the speech, but he was informed by the topic.

"It was so awesome,” Park said. “It is unthinkable to talk about sex toys in my country. And then I have never seen such a sex toy.”

He also said he watched the video and shared it.

Olivia Hendricks, an English and German student who also shared the same speech class, said the speech was “quite amusing.”

“I didn’t find it embarrassing,” Hendricks said. “I think he was brave for what he did, and it loosened up the class. But I can see a problem for future employers.”

She said this could ruin his chances of getting a job unless he got a job as a salesman.

Stewart said Skottegard did not alert him to the video being filmed.

According to the Tech Student Handbook’s Covert Taping Policy, “As a policy, covert taping (defined as audio or visual recording without the permission of all parties concerned) is prohibited at Tennessee Technological University,” and, “Students must obtain the instructor’s permission before taping lectures or instructional activities.”

Skottegard said he was sure he offended someone.

“Maybe not someone in the room because they were seeming to enjoy it, but somewhere some people are going to get offended by it no matter what,” Skottegard said.

A majority of the offended expressed their opinions in the YouTube video comments and the social media website Reddit. He said he has read the comments.

"I laugh at every single one of them,” he said. “Especially the ones on Reddit.”

A video of the speech was recorded and posted to YouTube, and it has obtained over 60,000 views. Skottegard admitted the video had gone somewhat viral on a local level.

“Once it starts hitting millions of views, I don’t know what I’ll do then,” he said. “I don’t know, but at this point it isn’t really in my hands.

Stewart advises any future students of his class, “All speeches should be in good taste, but keep your audience in mind.”

Stewart also said he will be making adjustments to my syllabus.  

Skottegard said he doesn’t think he has caught anything bad over this incident.

“I’m sure it will come,” he said. “I can own my dirt. I’m not complaining about it.”

Skottegard is expected to graduate in Spring 2015.