Free speech organisation highlights the art is censored on college campuses

Art as this, to the University of Iowa is prohibited, removed, revised, and eventually censored for a variety of reasons.

(Serhat Tanyolacar)

Several colleges and universities have the last time is anything other than “safe places” for the freedom of expression, particularly in the form of the artwork.

To this end, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education claims censorship in higher education knows no borders, and the organization has to prove it. Both public and private schools, across the entire political spectrum, participated in censorship, FIRE, says, despite a majority of the legal precedence in favour of freedom of expression. And by the censoring work of art on college campuses, school officials can send unintended messages to the artist.

“Attempts to censor expression often only ensure that more people will ultimately see,” FIRE wrote in a report titled “One Man’s Vulgarity: Art Censorship on American Campuses.”

Here are some of the more serious incidents, as noted by the FIRE:

Salem State University

In 2016 election, allegedly “activated” a lot of students on campuses across the country, including a number of Massachusetts’ Salem State University, who were angry about an illustration by artist Garry Harley. Harley’s painting depicted the members of the Ku Klux Klan, and wanted to compare this to the Trump campaign to the historic efforts of the minority oppression. School officials responded by first covering the glass doors that lead to the illustration, then placing a “trigger warning” outside, for the temporary shut down of the exhibit. Salem State finally reopened the screen, but covered the KKK and the image with a black cover, so students wouldn’t accidentally see.

The piece with the title “the State of the Union” was eventually pushed to behind a black curtain in the exhibition, but the officials of the school at Salem State University is at risk.

(Garry Harley via Inside Higher Ed)

Pennsylvania State University

In 2006, the Pennsylvania State University cancelled is the work of a student whose 10-piece senior art exhibition, “portraits of Terror” aimed at Islamic extremism and criticizes the violence and the intolerance against Israel. Officials told to Joshua Stulman his exhibition was canceled because it was “not promote cultural diversity” or “opportunities for democratic dialogue.” A year later, Stulman filed a lawsuit against Penn State for the violation of his rights to freedom of speech and expression. The suit was ultimately settled.

A Penn State student art display titled “portraits of Terror” was banned before it ever went on the campus.

(Joshua Stulman)

Brandeis University

After the Penn State incident, a student at Brandeis University, had an art display with the title “Voice of Palestine”, that a girl, lying in a pool of blood. The screen is removed after four days, however, because it was one-sided.” School officials later apologized by saying that she “committed a serious error.”

A student at Brandeis University had its art display with the title “Voice of Palestine” removed from the library before the school officials and apologized.

(Samah al-Azza via Boston Globe)

The university of Iowa

University of Iowa officials removed the work of art in 2014 of an assistant professor, Serhat Tanyolacar, that he said was intended to bring awareness to racist violence. But the Ku Klux Klan hood covered by newspapers with stories about Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Black Lives Matter was initially seen as “divisive” and ” intolerant.” It was removed because it “immediately caused black students and community members to feel terrorized and to fear for their safety,” according to an e-mail from President Sally Mason to the students.

A piece with the title “In the Shoes” was banned from the campus, because the students feel “terrorized.”

(Serhat Tanyolacar)

Polk State College

The same professor, teaching part-time in Florida’s Polk State College, could not have his work this year in a faculty art exhibit, because it was allegedly too controversial. Tanyolacar piece featured Trump and other political figures to engage in sexual activity. The administration of Polk State deemed the piece, “Death of Innocence” as “too controversial to display” because the school hosts the middle school.

A part-time professor work of art entitled, “Death of Innocence” is forbidden to be controversial. The recommended President Trump and other politicians committing sexual acts.

(Serhat Tanyolacar)

Gainesville State College

In another piece with KKK members, this time as part of the Confederate flag, a professor at Gainesville State college in Georgia had his work censored without his consent or prior knowledge, because the college president said that it “can be seen as aggressive, hostile” with “a graphic representation of a lynching.”

A professor’s work of art titled “Heritage?” had been removed without his consent, because it was considered “hostile aggressive.”

(Stanley Bermudez / Gainesville Times)

University of New Hampshire

A display at the University of New Hampshire was removed hours after you click, because it was seen as “hate speech” and in “profane/vulgar language.” The controversial exhibition was meant to draw attention to Sexual Awareness Month in April 2017, but instead had to be revised. After the FIRE is off to UNH, the university revised its speech codes and now has the highest rating of the freedom of expression organization.

A display intended to highlight Sexual Awareness Month was removed with “hate speech”. It was later revised.

(Connie DiSanto / Huffington Post)

Arcadia University

A vulgar anti-Trump art display with the title “Waste Show,” produced by the video collective Termite TV and created by Professor Alan Powell and a group of alumni and students, came under fire after a student anonymously submitted a Title IX complaint. While the case was eventually dropped, the art on display was moved to the basement of the school library. The featured tweets, speeches, and recordings of Trump in addition to audio and video of Nazi-propaganda, as a miniature male organ referred to as Trump.

An Arcadia professor collective project “Waste Show” was the subject of an anonymous Title IX investigation that was later withdrawn.

(Alan Powell, Termite TV)

Southwestern College

In 2010, a Southwestern College student artwork with three female professors was rejected because it was too “controversial” for the school’s Women’s History Month art display. The three professors were suspended and forbidden to protest against the college’s unconstitutional free speech zone. The student said: “The events…were and are still a part of the women in the history…That is a blow to many of the faces of the people.”

A Southwestern College student art work depicting three female professors who were suspended and excluded from campus for the protest against the free speech zone was rejected for the school’s Women’s History Month art display.

( via

Read the full report from the FIRE here.

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

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