Penn State leaders have reversed the School of Visual Arts’ decision to censor the exhibit of Josh Stulman. The Daily Collegian reports that at a University Faculty Senate meeting yesterday, Penn State President Graham Spanier said, “That exhibit is going to go up. The offer has been extended and may be displayed this spring or not until the fall.”
After Charles Garoian, a professor in the School of Visual Arts, told Stulman that he could not display his exhibit because it “did not promote cultural diversity” or “opportunities for democratic dialogue,” Garoian and Bill Mahon, a spokesman for the university, claimed that they cancelled the exhibit because Stulman received money from the Penn State chapter of Hillel. The hall, they said, was reserved for unsponsored works. However, Professor David Bernstein at The Volokh Conspiracy obtained an e-mail from a Penn State administrator that read:
I certainly understand your concern, because there has been much confusion on this issue in the media. First, and most importantly, the “administration” does not condone censorship of artwork and had no role in this matter. Indeed, we have worked diligently with the art department to help find a way to ensure that the student has an opportunity to display his work.
The Collegian also reports that the Undergraduate Student Government passed a resolution that “recommended that the School of Visual Arts and university administration submit a public apology to Stulman on the grounds of a First Amendment rights violation.”
Administrators at Penn State quickly restored Stulman to his rights. We hope they will abandon the unconstitutional speech code that Garoian cited as his reason for censoring this exhibit.