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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Committee report leaves questions unanswered

Published: October 6, 2006
Section: Opinions

When the Voices of Palestine exhibit, composed of paintings done by Palestinian children, was pulled from public view last semester, many were outraged. Students protested, and faculty members signed a petition against the move.

Instead of reinstating the exhibit, or apologizing for its actions, the uproar eventually provoked the administration to create the Committee on Exhibitions and Public Expression on Campus, which would determine what exactly the university did wrong by removing the exhibit, and find ways to prevent such unfortunate controversies in the future.

That committee, after four months, has completed its work. Its findings are now available online on the Provosts website. Anyone cognizant of the importance of free expression to our schools cherished tradition of public, open discussion will not be surprised by the findings.

The Committee writes that the removal of the artwork was a serious error. We completely agree, not only on academic grounds, but also in regards to our universitys reputation, considering the media attention the artwork removal afforded our institution.

Unfortunately, the Committees findings fall short of providing real solutions to the problem of protecting free speech on campus. The Committee fails to identify how students rights to free expression can be protected in the future. Rather, the findings propose the creation of a powerless grievance committee, which would facilitate discussions regarding particular free speech infringements.

Worse, in regards to a public community discussion regarding the artwork removal, or free speech in general, the committee does not think it advisable. We hope the irony of this decision is not lost on the Committee.

Though we believe that the administration considered the artwork removal a mistake, we have seen no action to remedy its error besides the hiring of a public relations expert. Instead of a public apology from the administration for its actions, students and faculty were expected to be comforted by the findings of this faculty committee.
This editorial board will not be satisfied until provisions are created that truly protect a students right to free, open expression.