April 22, 2011
Erroll B. Davis Jr.
Chancellor, University System of Georgia
270 Washington Street, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (404-657-6979)
Dear Chancellor Davis:
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) unites leaders in the fields of civil rights and civil liberties, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, legal equality, academic freedom, due process, freedom of speech, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses. Our website, thefire.org, will give you a greater sense of our identity and activities.
FIRE is concerned about the threat to freedom of expression and academic freedom caused by the removal of a painting by art professor Stanley Bermudez due to its controversial content. Gainesville State College (GSC) President Martha T. Nesbitt removed the painting from a faculty art exhibit and has refused to renounce this censorship.
FIRE wrote President Nesbitt about these matters on March 7 and April 13, 2011. We provided the facts and outlined GSC’s First Amendment responsibilities, but she has not responded. (Copies of both letters are enclosed.)
FIRE asks that you assure the members of the GSC community that expression protected by the First Amendment is safe on campus. We respectfully request a response by Monday, May 9, 2011.
Vice President of Programs
Willis J. Potts Jr., Chair, Board of Regents, University System of Georgia
Kessel Stelling Jr., Regent, Board of Regents, University System of Georgia, and Chair, Chancellor Search Committee, University System of Georgia
Philip A. Wilheit Sr., Regent, Board of Regents, University System of Georgia
Martha T. Nesbitt, President, Gainesville State College
John O’Sullivan, University System of Georgia Faculty Council Advocate, Gainesville State College
Al Panu, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, Gainesville State College
John Amoss, Art Program Coordinator, Gainesville State College
Andrew Santander, Chair, Department of Visual and Performing Arts, Gainesville State College
Beth Sale, Director, Roy C. Moore Art Gallery, Gainesville State College