Friday, February 03, 2012

The Case of the Censored Poet

The Illinois Wesleyan University AAUP chapter newsletter (pdf) features incisive analysis of a case last fall where a student poet had his microphone at the student center cut off mid-poem in order to avoid possibly offending people during Parents' Weekend. Here is a statement by several IWU faculty criticizing the decision:

We, the undersigned, wish to express our disapproval in the strongest possible form of the recent act of censorship of a student’s artistic performance by the Director of Student Activities, who may not have been aware of the serious academic freedom implications of his action. Censoring the free artistic expression of our students is among the most serious violations of the mission of this university and cannot be condoned. As the American Association of University Professors indicates explicitly in its statement on Academic Freedom and Artistic Expression,

"Faculty and students engaged in the creation and presentation of works of the visual and the performing arts are engaged in pursuing the mission of the university as much as are those who write, teach, and study in other academic disciplines. . . . Artistic expression in the classroom, studio, and workshop therefore merits the same assurance of academic freedom that is accorded to other scholarly and teaching activities. Since faculty and student artistic presentations to the public are integral to their teaching, learning, and scholarship, these presentations no less merit protection."

We insist that the Student Affairs Office issue clear guidelines that comport with the relevant academic freedom statements of the AAUP. Additionally we demand that the administration assure students and faculty of the university’s steadfast commitment to academic freedom and the university’s insistence that all members of the campus community conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the principles of academic freedom.

No comments: