Monday November 21, 2016

Forum to Move Forward

While much of campus had already checked out for Thanksgiving Break, the Boll Theater in Kennedy Union on the University of Dayton campus was lively on this chilly Monday evening. Given that today is the eve of Thanksgiving break, I am saddened that many students did not have the opportunity to attend tonight’s presentation on the 1st Amendment Rights and Artistic Expression: A forum on Rights, Speech and Censorship. The forum was assembled to engage in discourse regarding an anonymously displayed student art piece from the previous week.  

Although I did not observe the artwork personally, my understanding is that the piece included an American flag that had been painted darkly to appear burned. A piece of paper attached to the flag stated, “We will move forward.” I was first told the artist provided a space for comments to be made, but was later notified students began writing comments next to the artwork on their own. In either case, the amount of feedback was tremendous and thus arose the forum of the 1st amendment held tonight. Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Jason Pierce began the forum quite appropriately with, “Art provokes. And last week’s art exhibit certainly provoked a reaction on campus.”

Six UD faculty members were held on a panel to provide context on political, historical, and artistic fronts. They included professors in Political Science, Fine Arts, History, Law, Art Education, and Military history (specifically a veteran of the US army). Each presented helpful insight into the matter, which caused my roommate sitting next to me, a Political Science major, to lean over every five minutes and say, “Valid point, very valid point.”

I am not certain if the audience left with more questions or answers on the subject, but they certainly left with a better basis of understanding about artistic significance involving the US flag. As I sat listening to the discourse, I was overcome with a sense of pride as a member of UD. A community that welcomes constructive dialogue in the air of extremely difficult conversations is one to which I certainly want to belong. Despite any criticism, praise, or thoughts you may have regarding the student artwork, the University of Dayton is certainly moving forward. 

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