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E-Mail Apology at Penn State By: Ryan Pfister and Meaghan Haugh
Daily Collegian | Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Charles Garoian, director and professor of art education, sent an e-mail apology to student Josh Stulman yesterday -- a week since he decided to cancel Stulman's art exhibit, Portraits of Terror.

However, Stulman said the apology was not strong or specific enough.

Richard Durst, dean of the College of Arts and Architecture, also sent an e-mail apology to Stulman on Wednesday.

Stulman's 10-piece exhibit, which depicted conflict in Palestinian territories and drew inspiration from images featured in newspapers and on television, was initially scheduled to begin Sunday.

Garoian sent an e-mail message April 20 notifying Stulman that his exhibit would be canceled because it did not promote "cultural diversity" or "opportunity for democratic dialogue."

The decision to cancel the exhibit came after reviewing Penn State's Policy AD42: Statement on Nondiscrimination and Harassment and Penn State's Zero Tolerance Policy for Hate, Garoian also wrote.

Yesterday, Garoian wrote in an e-mail message to Stulman that he now believes that his initial decision to cancel the exhibit was wrong.

"I realize now that with the best of intentions, my actions, supported by the faculty of the School with whom I consulted, had the unintended effect of censoring your opinions and artistic outlook. I was wrong in canceling the exhibition and for that I apologize," he wrote.

Garoian did not return phones calls by press time yesterday.

Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon said it was not an official apology from the university, but rather made by faculty who had decided to cancel the exhibit.

"The university never canceled anything," Mahon said. "The university does support any kind of free speech."

Mahon said Stulman has had the opportunity since last Friday to put up his artwork with the help of faculty members.

He said the university had informed Garoian that AD42 does not apply to artwork or free speech.

Stulman said Garoian's apology was not enough because it did not apologize for citing him under AD42 or for using Penn State Hillel as a "scapegoat."

Garoian said in the e-mail message sent last Thursday that sponsored work was not permitted in School of Visual Arts space.

However, Stulman has said his exhibit Hodgepodge: Prints, Drawings, and Sketches, held this February, was sponsored by Hillel and displayed at the School of Visual Arts without conflict.

Stulman said Garoian also did not address the fact that his advertisements for the exhibit were defaced, one of which had a large swastika on it.

"That's a serious issue of anti-Semitism," he said.

Tuvia Abramson, director of Hillel, said he had received an e-mail message from Steve MacCarthy, director of university relations, thanking him for "helping to resolve the issue."

However, Abramson said he had not received a public apology to Hillel.

"If you hurt somebody publicly, you have to apologize publicly," he said.

Stulman said he plans to meet with Durst next week to discuss the time and place of when his exhibition will be displayed. Stulman said he had already reached an agreement with MacCarthy to show his work this fall with Hillel's sponsorship.

"I absolutely assure you that the College is committed to mounting the exhibition of that work at a time that is convenient for you," Durst wrote in his e-mail apology to Stulman.

Muslim Student Association Vice President Heather Barton wrote that it was legally wrong to cancel the exhibit, but she thought Garoian should not suffer "any enormous consequences."

"I personally feel very hurt and threatened by this exhibit, and I know that a lot of other Muslim and International students do too," she wrote. "I definitely feel that this exhibit [threw] gasoline on the already burning fire of hate and ignorance towards Muslims and peoples of Middle Eastern origin."

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