A week ago, Penn State University canceled a student’s art exhibit because of who was sponsoring it.
According to the Penn State Collegian, Josh Stulman’s art exhibit Portraits of Terror which was being sponsored by Penn State Hillel, a Jewish student group, was cancelled by Charles Garoian, the Director of Visual Arts. Stulman is a senior in painting and anthropology and is himself Jewish.
Garoian sent Stulman an email three days before the exhibit was going to be displayed, saying his work “did not promote cultural diversity,” according to the Collegian.
The email also said the decision was made after reviewing Penn State’s Policy AD42: Statement on Nondiscrimination and Harassment and the Zero Tolerance Policy for Hate, the Collegian reported.
Back in February, the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit against Penn State University for these harassment and tolerance policies which they contend are vague and overbroad speech codes that unnecessarily restrict free speech.
According to the Collegian, Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon said the reason the exhibit was cancelled was Hillel’s sponsorship. The Collegian also said that Stulman had previously exhibited Hodgepodge: Prints, Drawings and Sketches, with the sponsorship of Hillel.
Several days after the decision to cancel Stulman’s exhibit about Mid-East conflict was made, Penn State President Graham Spanier announced that Stulman could display the artwork this semester or next fall, according to the Collegian.
Stulman and University Relations director Steve MacCarthy agreed to display the exhibit fully with the sponsorship of Hillel next fall semester, but Hillel and Stulman are demanding an apology, reported the Collegian.
Hillel sent a letter to university administration this week asking for a formal and public apology, a process to protect underrepresented opinions from silencing, sensitivity training for the School of Visual Arts and an investigation into the actions of the School of Visual Arts the Collegian said.
The Collegian also reported that Tuvia Abramson, Hillel’s executive director, has asked for Penn State to provide resolution immediately because the semester ends in a week.
Julia A. Seymour is a staff writer for Accuracy in Academia.